The site lies in the north-west Alborz (Elburz) Mountains c.50 km south of Astara and includes the entire watershed of the Lisar river from its source near the crest of the Alborz in the west to the Caspian shore in the east (c.30 km), and also part of the much drier western slope of the Alborz. There is a freshwater lake (Nur Gol or Neur Gol, 38°00'N 48°33'E) of c.200 ha with extensive sedge marshes in a depression at 2,300 m on the western slope of the divide. The lake drains north into a tributary of the Aras river and provides some breeding habitat for waterbirds, but is frozen for about half the year. There are many villages and farming areas at low elevations in the main valley, but the upper regions of the reserve remain sparsely populated and relatively undisturbed. The site includes the full range of Caspian forest types from lowland Alnus in the coastal zone to the tree limit, as well as alpine meadows on the Caspian slope of the divide, montane steppe on the dry western slopes and rocky crags near the summit (3,197 m). Land ownership is public.
See box for key species. The area supports a good variety of breeding species of Caspian forest and the high Alborz, including Pernis apivorus, Aquila pomarina, Phasianus colchicus, Oenanthe xanthoprymna and Phylloscopus trochiloides nitidus. Pandion haliaetus and Haliaeetus albicilla are resident in the coastal zone and presumably breed in the reserve. Ciconia nigra has been recorded at Nur Gol in summer and may breed. Tetraogallus caspius occurs on the high crags. Other breeding species include Falco tinnunculus, Alectoris chukar, Oriolus oriolus and Garrulus glandarius, and winter visitors include Rallus aquaticus, Emberiza citrinella and E. schoeniclus. At least 111 species have been recorded in the reserve.
Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Canis lupus (V), Ursus arctos (rare), Lynx lynx (rare), Panthera pardus (rare), Capra hircus aegagrus (rare) and Ovis ammon (rare).
Data-sheet compiled by Dr D. A. Scott, reviewed by Dept of Environment.
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lisar Protected Area. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/05/2022.