Andranik Ghulijanyan, Vahe Abovyan, Benik Zakaryan,
Hayk Ghulijanyan and Luiza Gevorgyan
The Republic of Armenia – Arevik National Park
“Arevik” National Park is located in the south-eastern part of the Republic of Armenia, in Syunik Province and the distance from the capital city Yerevan is 375km. The area of the park is bordering Nakhijevan Autonomous Republic in the west, Islamic Republic of Iran in the south and Nagorno Karabakh Republic in the east. The total area of the park is 34402 ha. Mean elevation of the area is 2200m above the sea level. The highest peak is Baghats mount (3256m) and the lowest depression is Arax riverside (375 m).
Figure 2.1. The boundaries of “Arevik” National Park
Social -economic conditions
“Arveik” national park is surrounded by Meghri and Agarak towns as well as Alvanq, Gudemnis, Lehvaz, Litshq, Karchevan, Kuris, Nrnadzor, Shvanidzor, Vardanidzor, Tashtun, Vahravar, Aygedzor, Tkhkut and Kaler rural communities.
According to the National Statistical Service of the Republic of Armenia the total population of Meghri region as of January 1, 2013 constituted 11.4 thousand people, out of which urban population constituted 9.6 thousand people.
Fruit and grape production is predominating in agricultural industry of the region.
Meghri town is situated on the left bank of Arax River and on left and right banks of Meghri River with 376 km distance from the capital and 610m mean elevation above sea level. The town is separated form Iran by Arax River. The town's economy is based on the food industry, and contains bread-baking factory, canneries and a winery.
The second largest town of the region is Agarak with is bordering with Iran. This town has a strategic significance and the distance form the highway connecting Armenia and Iran is only 1km.
According to the National Statistical Service of the Republic of Armenia the total population of Agarak town as of January 1, 2013 constituted 4.5 thousand people, out of which urban population constituted 9.6 thousand people.
Agarak is prominent with its copper molybdenum combine.
The main rivers of the area are Arax, Meghri, Nrnadzor, Shvanidzor and a few shallow-water rivers.
Arax is one of the major rivers of Armenia flowing through the lowest point at the borderline. The total length of Arax River is about 1072 km. In the adjacent plain the width of the river reaches 30-130m, while the depth is 3-4,5m. The waters of the river are turbid during almost the entire year. Arax is a swift-flowing river (1.5 m /s). It flows through the territories of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iran. At the downstream the river passes through the Caspian Plain where it joins with Kura River and pours itself into the Caspian Sea. The river yearly diverts approximately 3 billion cubic meters of water into the Caspian Sea. The main river of Armenia is the second silt-bearing river in the world after Nile. According to estimations of specialists Arax annually carries more than one million carriages of silt.
The second largest river of the region is Meghri River which originates from the watershed of the Meghri mountain ridge at the altitude of 3250m. Meghri River is the right tributary of Arax River and flows solely in the territory of the province stretching in the direction of the meridian. The length of the river is 36km and the catchments area is 340 km2. The river is swift-flowing with a high stream gradient. The river is feeding on snowmelt and storm waters and partially on groundwaters. The average annual flow rate is 3.34 m3/s, while the annual average flow volume is 102 million m3.
Freshets start during the first decade of March earlier as compared to other rivers of Armenia reaching its peak level in May. At the end of spring it is affluent with ravine stream. In the beginning of autumn when the rainfall events are at the minimum, river flow severely reduces. Autumn freshets are rare. In the winter water flow is less as compared to autumn. In the adjacent areas river waters are used for irrigation of vineyards and orchards and drinking purposes.
Major Basins of the Region – Surficial Hydrology
“Arveik” national park includes basins of small tributaries with ephemeral flow of Aghstev, Malev, Nrnadzor, Shavigh, Karavget and Tonraget pouring into Meghri, Kartshevan and Arax rivers.
Climatic conditions, precipitation, evapotranspiration, temperature of Meghri River
The climate of the river Meghri is highly variable with mild winters and hot summers in the lowlands and cold, semi-humid mountainous and long lasting winter periods in the highlands. The analysis of mean monthly precipitation data at different elevations shows that more than 75% of the annual overall flow originates at 2000m elevations. The areas at elevations lower than 1000m are characterized with scarce precipitation and low flow.
Table 2.1 Estimated mean monthly precipitation versus elevation (mm)
0 – 1000
1000 – 2000
2000 – 3000
3000 – 3800
Source: Armenian State Hydrometeorological and Monitoring Service
Data on mean temperature of Meghri river basin received from meteorological stations also varies at different elevations.
Table 2.2. Mean monthly temperature (C°)
Elevation, Meghraget river basin (m)
Source: Armenian State Hydrometeorological and Monitoring Service
Evapotranspiration in the area of Meghri river basin is high and ranges between 1200-1600mm. In the lowlands on altitudes up to 1000m the evapotranspiration exceeds the amount of precipitation about 5 times (table). This is conditioned by dry arid climate of lowlands.
Table 2.3. Mean monthly evapotranspiration
The estimation is performed on the basis of Hargreaves equation, UNFAO, 1998
Meghri river basin topography is unique. On short territories the elevational variations range between 400-3500m. Most of the river basin area is situated at 3000m and higher elevations. The maximum elevations of other river basins are significantly lower. Since elevation is an important factor for formation of precipitations, constant abundant flow of Meghri River during the entire year and the low flow or the absence of flow of other rivers can be explained by its elevation. Topographic and morphological characteristics of the basin are presented below.
Table 2.4. Topographic and morphological characteristics of river basins of the pilot area
Basin area (km2)
Mean elevation of the basin
River length (km)
Basin inclination (m/m)
Source: Armenian State Hydrometeorological and Monitoring Service
Meghri river basin is one of Armenia's basins with unique geomorphological characteristics since the area is rich in granite and intrusive rock masses of Paleogene (tertiary period). Meghri river basin is almost entirely formed of these intrusive rocks and is rugged by inclined flows and narrow valleys. The fault of the layers is predominantly of north-western and south-eastern direction.
In the very eastern part of Meghri river basin, in the upper areas of Astazurget and Nyuvad rivers, a variety of sedimentary and volcanic formations of Jurassic period separated by a fault zone are present including carbonates (dolomites, lime stones, tuff, conglomerates and etc). On the western borders there is a small area of volcanic rocks of Jurassic period including porphyries, diabases and pyroclastic rocks.
Surface water resources: Almost all rivers flowing through Meghri river basin are formed in Syunik province and within the boundaries of the RA and are flowing into Arax River. The area includes Meghri River with its tributaries and Kartshevan, Shernaglukh, Karavget, Malev, Shvanidzor, Shavigh, Nrnadzor and Tonraget rivers. The total area is 664km2 where the Meghri River basin constitutes 336km2. Besides Meghri and Kartshevan rivers all other rivers have ephemeral flow (Table).
Table 2.5. Mean monthly flow of the main rivers (m3/s)
According to the Second National Communication on Climate Change the mean flow of Meghri River was 93.8 mln m³ during 1961-1990, while in 1991-2006 it was decreased by 12.9 mln m³ or 13.8% resulting from climate change.
The rivers mainly feed on snowmelt and which stops at autumn, winter and summer months. The branching of Meghri River is of third-grade with many feeding tributaries, but the rest of the tributaries are mainly first and second order tributaries of linear form. River beds are deeply dug into the rocks which are usually intrusive hills. The river beds are formed of large pebbles and river shingles.
Winter snow cover is the main flow forming source of Meghri river basin. 70% of Meghri river flow occurs in April, May, June and July during snowmelt. Baseflow of Meghri River is constant during autumn and winter and is 1 m3/sec. The baseflow feeds on snowmelt water which penetrates into the soil, riverbeds and bank rocks and then returns to the river.
Figure 2.2. Arax river
Figure 2.3. Upper stream of Meghri river
In the upper stream of Meghri River at 3200m elevation there are 2 lakes, namely, Tsakqar (surface area of 5 ha, and 8m mean depth) and Kapuyt (surface area of 3ha and և 6m mean depth).
Relief and Geology
Relief of Syunik province is characterized by complicated geological structure and conditions. It is mainly of folded-detrital and volcanic nature and is located in Virahayots-Kapan and Armenian zones. Intrusions of different heights and patterns play an important role in relief formation. In general, Syunik’s relief has been shaped by tectonic structures, modern tectonic movements and by deep and dense erosional ruggedness of the rivers.
Affected by the newest tectonic processes, Syunik is divided into a number of territories which underlies the pattern of hydrographic network. By Arax, Tsav, Vorotan and Vokhchi riversides Syunik is split into separate mountain massifs, ridges, volcani plateaus (highlands) and inter-mountain hollows os Kapan, Kajaran-Geghi, Vorotan, Arax and others. The landscapes of highland, medium and lowland elevations are clearly distinct. The following geomorphological structures can be identified:
Folded-detrital ridges with characteristic types of erosions and alpine forms of relief.
Volcanic mountains with their typical volcanic mountain shields, volcanic cones, vast volcanic plateaus (highlands).
Pliocene-anthropogenic with sedimentary-accumulative forms of relief.
Geological conditions of the pilot area have been formed by numerous volcanic-sedimentary, volcanic and intrusive rocks. From litological viewpoint, Syunik is divided into 3 large regions:
Northern (Karabakh volcanic highland).
Central (Kapan, Vokhchi and Airi-Sisian areas between the rivers).
Karabakh volcanic highland is spread along the left bank of Vorotan river. It consists mainly of andesite-basalt, laparite-dacite and sufrabreccial rocks erupted in many centuries which are covered mostly by grasslands, meadow grasslands and alpine landscapes.
Central Zangezour is dominated by volcanic rocks: porphyrites, sands and stones, conglomerates, sedimentary accumulations, diatomite clays and limestone rocks covered by forests, after-forest grasslands, meadow grasslands and alpine landscapes.
In southern Zangezour, the dominating rocks are granites, granodiorites, gabbrodiorites, sienites, monconites. The after-forest dry grasslands, after-forest meadow grasslands and alpine landscapes are distributed here.
Figure 2.4. Landscape of “Arevik” National Park
Armenian plateau forms a portion of Tavros-Caucasian seismically active region which is the second component of Alpine-Himalayan seismic belt in the world. It is a newly formed creasy belt with ragged faults of different ages, types and directions.
The oldest testimony of earthquakes in Armenian plateau dates back to the reign of the king Argishti I of Urartu in the form of cuneiform inscription which refers to the earthquake of 773 BC. The most powerful and destructive earthquake occurred on December 7, 1988 in Spitak. The earthquake included almost 30% of Armenia’s territory and took away 25000 lives.
Figure 2.5.Tectonic Activity-Earthquakes Map (National Atlas of Armenia, 2007)
The climate of the pilot area is diverse and the reason to that diversity is mountainous relief and its high ruggedness. The climate is seriously affected by elevations, location of mountain ridges and isolation of inter-mountain valleys and depressions.
The area of “Arevik” national park is situated within 4 agro-climatic zones.
1. Dry sub-alpine zone is formed on elevations 400-700 m above sea level. The winters are mild with unstable snow-cover. Summers are long (May to September) hot, dry, with predominance of sunny days. Mean temperature during July-August reaches 23-26° C, while the absolute maximum temperature is 40° C. Monthly rainfall is 30-50 mm. The annual precipitation is not exceeding 300mm. The main cultures cultivated in the zone are grapes, peaches, apricots, pomegranates, fig, apples, thermophilous vegetables and etc.
2. Moderately warm zone is formed on elevations between 700-1000m and 1400m above sea level. Winters are moderately cold with stable snow-cover. Springs are moderately humid and long with 50-100mm monthly rainfall. During the daytime relative humidity rarely descends 30%. Mean air temperature during July and August is 18-20°C, while the maximum temperature is 34°C. The annual quantity of precipitation is 600-700 mm. The main crops are tobacco, grain, corn, potatoes, etc.
3. Moderately humid zone is formed on elevations between 1400-2000m above sea level. Winters are long with stable snow-cover. Springs are long, cold and humid. Monthly average rainfall is 60-100mm. summers are warm and relatively humid. Mean air temperature during July and August is 18° C, while the maximum temperature is 32°C: The monthly quantity of precipitation is 30mm and the annual 600mm. The main crops are grain, corn, potatoes, vegetables, stone fruit crops and seed cultures.
4. The border of the cold zone is situated on elevations between 2000-2500 meters above the sea level. Winters are severe, long-term (4-5 months) with a thick snow cover. Springs are cold and long, summers are short, cold and humid. The average temperature in August is 15°C, while the maximum temperature is 35°C:
Wind regime, direction and velocity are conditioned by relief. In valleys, they mainly blow upwards and downwards along the slopes.
Flora and fauna
The area is a typical mountainous area where the biological and landscape diversities are formed under the influence of unique climatic conditions.
The territory of the park is a natural complex of different ecosystems including semi desert, mountain forest, mountain and meadow steppe, subalpine and alpine landscapes /vegetational zones/.
Small areas in the territory of National park in the lower altitudes are occupied by semi-desert sensu lato vegetation. This vegetation is very complex, mosaic, and includes phryganoids (Artemisia fragrans dominate), vegetation of stony slopes with stones of different colors (so called “pestrotsvet”), and tragant formations. In the same mountain belt open arid forests are rather wide distributed. Amygdalus nairica, Amygdalus fenzliana, Quercus araxina, Rhamnus pallasii, Pistacia mutica, Punica granatum are domants in these communities. In tragant communities Astragalus aureus, Astragalus euoplus, Acantholimon glumaceum, Acantholimon fedorovii, Atraphaxis spinosa are dominants. Rather big areas are occupied by typical shibliak vegetation (Paliurus spina-cjristi is a dominant, companions – Acer ibericum, Cotinus coggygria, Colutes orientalis, Colutea cilicica, Jasminum fruticans, etc.).
Juniper open forests are widespread in lower and middle mountain belts in the territory of National park. Juniperus polycarpos and Juniperus oblonga are dominants in these communities. Many rare and endangered plant species are growing in this habitat (for example, Tulipa sosnovslyi, Erysimum lilacinum, Nonea rosea etc.).
Broad leaf forests in the territory of National park are the main type of vegetation; they are growing from 900 to 2400 above sea level. On the altitude 900-1300(1400) m above sea level oak forests with Quercus iberica are widespread. The ubdergrowth in these communities is very rich, and includesAcer campestre, Fraxinus excelsior, F. oxycarpa, Carpinus orientalis, Corylus avellana, Cornus mas, Swida australis, Rhamnus cathartica, Viburnum lantana, Euonymus latifolia, Lonicera iberica, etc. On the higher altitudes (1300-1900 m above sea level) oak (Quercus macranthera) and oak-hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) forests are widespread. Acer hyrcanica, Acer campestre, Ulmus elliptica, Corylus avellana, Mespilus germanica Pyrus Zangezoura, Pyrus hyrcana, Pyrus syriaca, Viburnum lantana, Lonicera caucasica, Ribes biebersteinii are the components. On the altitudes 1900-2400 m above sea level Quercus macranthera forms so called “park forests”, where trees are very big but stay on rather big distance from each other. Between oaks very rare are some shrubs (Viburnum lantana, Sorbus sp.), and very rich grass cover (mainly grasses and forbs common in sub-alpine meadows) is developed. There are many rare and endangered plant species growing in forest communities (Tulipa florenskyi, Tulipa sosnovskyi, Iris grossheimii, Erysimum lilacinum, Nectaroscordum tripedale, etc.).
Mountain steppes occupy rather small areas in the territory of National park, and represented mainly by steppes with Festuca valesiaca domination. These communities are more close to semi-desert and shibliak vegetation, there are many plant species which are components of steppe vegetation, but they are more widely distributed in other types of vegetation (Cousinia lomakinii, Cnicus benedictus, Kohlrauschia prolifera, etc.). Rather often Paliurus spina-christi is growing among steppe communities which could be a step in succession (transition) from steppe to shibliak.
Sub-alpinemeadows are good represented on the altitudes 2200-2700 m above sea-level. Mainly Bromopsis variegatus, Bromopsis erectus, Dactylis glomerata, Hordeum violaceum are dominants in these communities. On Zangezour range there are very interesting sub-alpine meadows where endemic of South Transcaucasia Bromopsis Zangezoura is a dominant. Very often among sub-alpine vegetation steppe species are growing (Helichrysum plicatum, Antyllis boissieri, Centaurea sp., etc.), which make them more similar to meadow-steppes of North Armenia.
Fauna: mammals - Ellobius lutescens, Ovis orientalis gmelinii
The most higher places (higher than 2700 m above sea level) are occupied by alpine meadows and carpets, Taraxacum stevenii, Campanula tridentata, Sibbaldia parviflora, Veronica gentianoides, Nardus stricta, Festuca varia are dominants of these communities. Alpine meadows are distributed not on the large areas, but are very rich floristically and differs from meadows of other parts of Armenia by Iranian species abundance.
Petrophyte vegetation is very rich in the National park, and occupies rather big areas. Rocks, cliffs, stony slopes, screes and rock streams have very variable vegetation depending on the mountain belt. Majority of rare and endangered species of the National park are growing on these habitats (Scilla mischtschenoana, Vavilovia formosa, Scrophularia takhtajanii, Tulipa sosnovskyi, Nectaroscordum tripedale, Peltariopsis grossheimii, Physoptychis caspica, etc.).
A lot of wild legumes occur here. Only on the territory of the NP in Armenia grows Argyrolobium trigonelloides (EN), which in general is distributed only in S Transcaucasia and Iran, Astragalus ordubadensis (CR), an endemic of s Transcaucasia, Colutea komarovii (CR), a small, glaucous shrub with small brownish-red flowers, which is distributed only in S Transcaucasia and in Iran.
The terrirory of Arevik NP comprises a series of wild fruit trees and shrubs: pomme-granate shrubs (Punica granatum), fig-trees (Ficus carica), wild almond speies (Amygdalus fenzliana, A. nairica), wild pistachio (Pistacia mutica), several wild plum and cherry species (Cerasus avium, C. mahaleb, C. incana, C. microcarpa, Prunus divaricata), more than 20 species of wild pear-trees (Pyrus caucasica, P. elata, P.hyrcana, P. meghrica, P. Zangezoura, etc.), blackberries (Rubus armeniacus, R. cartalinicus, R. sanctus, etc.).
Here grow a lot of very ornamental wild iris (Iris caucasica, I. grossheimii, I. pseudocaucasica, etc.) and tulip (Tulipa confusa, T. florenkyi, T. sonowskyi) species, 3 gladiolus species (Gladiolus atropatana, G. italicus, G. szovitsii). Iris grossheimi isan endemic of Southern Transcaucasia, a very decorative iris with rounded brownish-purple petals. In forest areas and on wet meadows grow more than 20 different orchid species. Cephalanthera kurdica with pink flowers and Orchis stevenii (EN) with grayish-pink flowers occur in Armenia only in Meghri floristic region, on the territory of Arevik NP.
Forests occupy 21335 hectares /62%/. Forests are distributed at altitudes of 500-2500m ASL are characterized by high-level zonality. Only 19.4% is located at an altitude of 1200m ASL, while 46.3% is located between 1200-1800m and 34.3% is located at an altitude of 1800m and higher. 0.2% of forests are located on 10º slopes, 10.6% are located on 20º slopes, 44.8% on 21-30º while 44.4% of forests are located on 31 º and higher slopes.
Predominating tree species in the NP area is oak. Oak stands occupy 15151.4 hectares which is almost 71% of the total forest-covered area, juniper stands occupy 6021.8 hectares (28.3%), hornbeam stands occupy 0.5% of the total forest-covered area and other tree species together, including pine, Greek walnut, wild apple and others occupy only 0.2% of the total forest-covered area.
The area of National park is located in southeastern forested marzes, and the forests are vulnerable along the lower boundary of their areas (starting from 600 m). In addition to the worsening conditions for forest growth, the intensive infiltration of semi-desert plant species into forest areas is expected that will result in the loss of forest areas. The expected temperature rise and decline in precipitation will have a negative impact on the seeds regeneration in forest and a small expansion of forest ecosystems is possible at the expense of meadow ecosystems (2550 and over).
On the territory of Arevik national park grow 1462 species of higher plants belonging to 530 genera and 97 families. It means that 40% of the whole number of the species of Armenian flora is represented here. There is a very high endemism level here. In of Arevik NP grow 18 endemic species of Armenia from 11 genera and 7 families.
92 species from 67 genera and 33 families are included into the Red Data book of Armenia (2010): 19 under category CR, 60 under category EN, 13 under category VU. Seven species are assessed as belonged to category NT.
Park’s fauna is characterized by extraordinary richness and remarkable peculiarity of invertebrate fauna. The ANP plays most important role in conservation of rare and endangered invertebrate species. Fauna of vertebrate animals is represented by 270 species. There are 10 species of animals included in IUCN Red Data List. The park area is an important area for conservation of globally threatened Persian leopard (EN), European marbled polecat, Bezoar goat and Armenian mouflon (VU), Turkish hamster, Vesper bat, stripped hyena, Eurasian otter (NT), and "Arax myotis (DD). There are 17 species of animals included in the Red Data book of Armenia.
Currently the establishment of “park of peace and friendship” on the common border of “Dizmar” protected area of Islamic Republic of Iran and “Arevik” National Park of the Republic of Armenia, as well as separation and mapping activities of ecological corridors and migration routes are underway which will allow unimpeded movement of wildlife species and are important for the establishment of communication between populations.
Figure 2.6.Bezoar goats in “Arevik” National Park
The adherence to Bern convention on “Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats” of the Republic of Armenia was designated within the “National Strategy and Action Plan on the Development of Specially Protected Areas in the Republic of Armenia” and was confirmed by the Republic of Armenia in February 26, 2008 by the N-053-4 decree of RA National Assembly.
The Emerald Network is an ecological network made up of “areas of special conservation interest”, set up by the Council of Europe in 1989 and launched in 1996, as part of its work under the Bern Convention.
The Emerald Network and Natura 2000 are fully compatible with each other and contribute to develop a coherent approach to the protection of natural habitats in the European continent.
The 27 European States implementing Natura 2000 cover an area of 4.325.675 km².
The 21 Council of Europe member states currently implementing the Emerald Network cover an area of 7.649.605 km².
Twelve "Areas of Special Conservation Interest" (ASCI) - that occupy 291329,9 ha territory and form around 10 percent of the total area - were selected relevant to the project requirements and described to be involved in “Emerald network” (sites) in the Republic of Armenia.
One of the main objectives of the program was the international evaluation of any protected area in Armenia. Such an area was selected by the Ministry of Nature Protection of RA, which is “Khosrov forest” state reserve that is included in “Emerald network” and satisfies the European standards of biological and landscape diversity.
For that purpose, the application from Armenia on “Khosrov forest” state reserve for the award of European Diploma was submitted to the Convention Secretariat by “Environmental Project Implementation Unit” State Institution in November, 2011. The application and the report on “Khosrov forest” state reserve was accepted during the meeting of group of specialists on European Diploma for protected areas for the award of European Diploma.
The group of specialists on European Diploma for protected areas gave their approval to the report and made a decision to submit the summary of the group of specialists on awarding the European Diploma to “Khosrov forest” state reserve to the Convention Bureau. Armenian “Khosrov Forest“State Reserve is the first protected area and the Emerald network site awarded European Diploma in Caucasus.
Table 2.6. The final Emerald sites database was reviewed. The total area of the 12 Emerald Network sites in Armenia is currently 291329.0 ha and it forms around 9.8 percent of the total area.
0000010-"Dilijan" National Park, "Ijevan" State Sanctuary-AM
0000011-"Gnishik" Protected landscape -AM
0000012 Ararat salt marshes-AM
Figure 2.7. Boundaries of Emerald Network sites in Armenia
The study area is “Arevik” national park which is located in the south-eastern part of the Republic of Armenia, in Syunik Province. The flora and fauna of the pilot area is unique with many species enlisted in the Red data book of Armenia and IUCN list. The data that was collected up to this point is the following:
Topographic Maps of the “Arevik” national park, which were digitized
Meteorological Data of the study area (Temperature and Rainfall)
Natural conditions of the area
The topographic maps of the region were scanned and georeferenced in ArcMap using the Pulkovo 1942 N Projection system.
Megri Forest Enterprise Management Plan, 2009
Second National Communication on Climate Change. RA Ministry of Nature Protection, 2010
Clarification of boundaries, mapping of migration corridors and basic study of extended areas of “Arevik” National Park, RA Ministry of Nature Protection, 2013
Armenian State Hydrometeorological and Monitoring Service. Annual Bulletin, 2011
“Adaptation to Climate Change Impacts in Mountain Forest Ecosystems of Armenia” UNDP, 2010, Project