The site lies at 1,500-1,700 m and includes the valley containing Benavi village and the adjacent mountain ridge. The slopes are rocky and grassy, with a rich herb flora and isolated Quercus scrub and trees. The local economy depends mainly on sheep grazing.
A representative assemblage of breeding species characteristic of the northern uplands; see box for key species. Other breeding species include Coracias garrulus, Lullula arborea, Motacilla cinerea, Parus lugubris, Sitta neumayer, Lanius minor, L. nubicus and Serinus pusillus, probably Caprimulgus europaeus and possibly Neophron percnopterus. Over 40 species are known or presumed to breed.
Non-bird biodiversity: Flora: there are Anemone assemblages, including A. blanda. The general area is very important for harbouring wild relatives of important cereal crop species.
Additional Important Bird Observations: During the surveys, 68 species were observed. In addition to those in the table above the site held breeding populations of three Irano-Turanian, and one Eurasian Steppe and Desert biome-restricted species.
Other Important Fauna: There were local reports of a Brown Bear Ursus arctos attacking a resident who lost his arm, but this could not be verified. Persian Squirrel Sciurus anomalus and the endemic Zagrosian Lizard Timon princeps kurdistanicus were observed in this area, but surveys for non-bird fauna occurred only in 2008 and 2009 as part of the rapid assessment. The area is likely rich in important species, but additional surveys are needed. A stream is present at the site but no fish observations were conducted.
Additional Plant & Habitat Information: This site contains a good population of pistachio, Pistacia eurycarpa, which is economically and culturally important. There is also a vineyard of Vitis vinifera, which is important as a genetic resource and there are some grasses present that are important genetic resources, including Aegilops columnaris, Aegilops crassa, and Pennisetum orientale.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
No conservation measures are known to have been taken. In the 1970s there was a threat to the habitat from cutting of trees and shrubs for firewood as well as from the very heavy grazing which was occurring locally. Overall, these trends are likely to have intensified in subsequent years. No conservation measures are known to have been proposed.
Because this area is near the border with Turkey, it is an area of high military activity. There are pastures and agricultural land but the team could not get information on agricultural practices at the site, though the area is affected by grazing. Locals told us that there were not cleared minefields nearby, so for this reason and because of the instability of the border, human intrusion is considered a high threat as was road construction in the area. Hunting was considered a medium threat at the site. Other threats exists (eg. Local development, resource extraction, pollution, etc.) but currently their impact is considered generally though but more assessment is needed.
Habitat and land use
The main habitat types in Benavi are mountain forest vegetation (primarily oak forests) and mountain riverine forest. The slopes are rocky with interspersed grasses and rich herb flora. The site is located in the Zagros range, where the geology is of sandstone, clay and sandy gravels, and the soil type is sandy clay. The local economy depends mainly on sheep grazing and some agriculture. Agriculture includes field crops and some walnut Juglans regia orchards, which are scattered around the valley.
Sararu is located in the northern part of the delineated area and has similar habitats, geology and soil types. The highest peak in the Sararu area stands about 1950 m and there is also a valley containing a large number of orchards (walnut, cherry and pomegranate) and vineyards. It is a popular area for visitors and regional tourists. The small Bedohe stream passes through the valley outside the delineation and is formed by springs from Sere Beroj and Sere Korupey Mountains which run north-south just outside the delineation to the south. The villages of Ure, Bedohe and Maye are nearby, with the nearest human settlement about 30 m outside the delineation.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Benavi and Sararu. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 15/04/2021.