Country/territory: Turkmenistan

IBA criteria met: A4i, A4iii (2007)
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Area: 1,421 ha

IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) Threat (pressure) Condition (state) Action (response)
2018 not assessed near favourable not assessed
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Site description (baseline)
The IBA is a closed waterbody with sandy gently sloping banks, situated 5 km to the north-west of Ashgabat in the Ruhabat district of Akhal region. The IBA includes a water reservoir and adjoining shores. The reservoir was built in 1963 in the brackish Gurtli depression and obtains its water from the Karakumdarya river which is subject to seasonal flow regulation. The waterbody is 5 km long, 3.75 km wide and 4.36 m deep on average. The maximum depth is 7m and the water surface area is 80,000 hectares, with a shoreline length of 25 km. The shores are sandy, gently sloping, without any steep cliffs. There are plantations of deciduous and coniferous trees in places. In sheltered areas thickets of reed and tamarisk can be found. There is a recreation zone on the shore, attracting more than 200,000 people a year. There are beaches, a boathouse, a recreation department of a hunters and fishing society, rest houses and sport-health complexes. Hunting on the waterbody is banned and only amateur fishing is allowed. Fish fry are released from time to time to enrich the waterbody (100,000 fry were released in 2005). The climate is a dry hot summer and rather mild winter. Precipitation is lowest in July-August, highest in March-April. There is almost no snow. The average air temperature is 0.8C in January, +30.5C in July. The frost-free period is 232 days a year.

Key biodiversity
The avifauna includes more 177 species, 43% are waterbirds. The most numerous are Passeriformes, Charadriidae, Anseriformes, Falconiformes and Lariidae. Fulica atra, Anas platyrhynchos, A. clypeata, A. crecca, A. querquedula, A. acuta, A.penelope and others, and some shorebirds and gulls are the most numerous during migration. The IBA is located on the flyway passing along the Kopetdag foothills. The spring movement of waterbirds is dynamic, with birds stopping to rest and feed. Migration begins in the middle of February and finishes at the end of March. The autumn migration is protracted with noticable peaks. Depending on weather conditions it begins at the end of September and finishes at the end of November. Species included in the Red Data Book of Turkmenistan (1999) recorded on the IBA: Plataea leucorodia, Pandion haliaetus, Falco peregrinus, Circaetus gallicus, Burhinus oedicnemus and resident Aquila chrysaetos and Bubo bubo.

Non-bird biodiversity: There are more than 90 species of mammal, 32 of them are Rodents, 21 - Chiroptera, 22 – Carnivora, 7 – Insectivora, 2 – Artiodactyla and 1 - Lagomorpha. Common mammals are Rhombomys opimus, Meriones libycus, Spermophilopsis leptodactylus and Nesokia indica. Common reptiles are Natrix tesellata and Central Asian agama. Shore vegetation consists of thickets of reed (Phragmites australis) and Tamarix. Potamogeton pectinatus dominates the shallows and Myriophyllum the lake. There is a sparse cover of ephemerals on the fixed sandy shore (Calligonum, Salsola richteri, Epherda, Astragalus, Stipagrostis karelinii and others).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Gurtli. Downloaded from on 05/06/2023.