Barzan Area and Gali Balnda

Country/territory: Iraq

IBA Criteria met: A1, A3 (2014)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 114,822 ha

Nature Iraq
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2014 very high not assessed not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
This area is made up of two sub-areas, Barzan and Gali Balnda (on Barzan’s western side). Three sub-sites were visited during the survey efforts for these areas. Barzan consists of mountains and valleys covered by oak woodland that is, and has traditionally been, protected by the Barzan tribe. The most important rivers within the Barzan Area are the Rezan River and the Greater (Big) Zab River. The Rezan is fairly large (approx. 20-30 m wide) and fast flowing. It flows from Turkey through Musaka village, eventually joining the Greater Zab. The Barzan area also includes Shirin Mountain, which is important for montane species.

Key biodiversity
Additional Important Bird Observations: During the surveys, a total of 91 species were observed (in the sub-area, Gali Balnda, a total 35 species were observed). In addition to those listed in the table above, European Roller Coracias garrulus (Near Threatened) was recorded breeding but at sub-IBA threshold numbers; the site also held a breeding population of Yellow-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus a Eurasian High-Montane biome-restricted species. Eastern Cinereous Bunting Emberiza semenowi is Near Threatened. Other Important Fauna: Data were collected from 2007 through 2010, with some additional work focused on Wild Goats (Vulnerable) in 2011. This species is thriving in Barzan, which has been a tribal protected site for many decades. The forestry police of Mergasur thought that the population of Wild Goats is around 1000, with some estimates much higher than this. In August 2010 and in 2011, an outbreak of goat plague or peste des petits ruminants (PPR) led to the death of over 200 animals. In 2012 a local from Barzan succesfully photographed a Eurasian Lynx Lynx lynx and in the same year another local photographed a Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus. The globally Endangered Persian Leopard Panthera pardus saxicolor was also reported by locals who have seen and heard the animal in and around the Rezan River valley. Two Otters (likely Eurasian Otter Lutra lutra; Near Threatened), were sighted with flashlights at night in the summer of 2011. In the Zrara area, the team camera trapped Brown Bear Ursus arctos, Golden Jackal Canis aureus, Indian Creasted Porcupine Hystrix indica and Red Fox Vulpes vulpes. Zagrosian Lizard Timon princeps kurdistanicus was observed. Many locusts were seen near the river in summer 2010, consuming large quantities of plant material. Fish: Information was collected from 2007 through 2009 and eight species were observed. Significant species, as defined by Coad (2010) were: Alburnoides sp., Alburnus mossulensis, Cyprinion macrostomum, Garra rufa, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix, Luciobarbus esocinus and Paracobitis sp. Barbus lacerta and Mastacembelus mastacembelus were also observed and though of no economic importance their conservation status in Iraq is unknown. During a 2012 survey with Jörg Freyhof from the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Germany Oxynoemacheilus bergianus, a new species for Iraq, was observed. Additional Plant & Habitat Information: This site contains a good population of Pistacia eurycarpa, P. khinjuk, and Crataegus azarolus, which are important economically and culturally. Also there is a vineyard of Vitis vinifera, which is important as a genetic resource.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Barzan Area and Gali Balnda. Downloaded from on 27/03/2023.