Golestan

©UNESCO/Golestan Biosphere Reserve
Golestan Biosphere Reserve

The Golestan Biosphere Reserve is located in the north of Iran and forms part of the Caucaso-Iranian highlands, situated between the sub-humid and semi-arid Caspian regions. The area includes temperate rain forest, cold winter and semi-deserts, and mixed mountain and highland systems. A wide variety of habitats and a rich biodiversity can be found in the reserve.

Designation date: 1976
Administrative authorities:  Golestan directorate of Department of Environment, Department of Natural Resources.
Surface area (terrestrial and marine):  155,804 ha
Core area(s):  80,077 ha
Buffer area(s):  30,272 ha
Transition area(s):  45,455 ha

Location
Latitude: 37°16’43”N – 37°31’35”N
Longitude: 55°43’25”E – 56°17’38”E
Midpoint:  37°24’10”N – 56°00’30”E

Ecological Characteristics

©Wikimedia Commons/Mehdy Zehtab
Boar family in Golestan Biosphere Reserve

The Golestan Biosphere Reserve is a mountainous region located in the east of Alborz. The landscape varies from dry and rocky mountains, valleys, foothills, mountainous forests, and mountainous steppes to flat and dry plains in the east. The mountainous area is divided into northern and southern halves by a valley through which flows the Madar Su River.

Although the reserve is located in the western part of the Hyrcanian forests, its climate is strongly influenced by the humidity and western winds of the Caspian Sea. Mountain rainfall increases the humidity of the area.

The reserve has a wide variety of habitats, producing a unique diversity of fauna and flora, including 150 species of birds, 54 species of reptiles and amphibians, 8 species of huge carnivores such as the leopard (Panthera pardus) and brown bear (Ursus arctos), and more than 1,366 species of plant of which 30 are endemic.

 

Socio-Economic Characteristics

©UNESCO/Golestan Biosphere Reserve
Golestan Biosphere Reserve

None of the local communities live within the core zone, which is uninhabited except for the Environmental Monitoring Station controlled by reserve officers. The buffer zone is home to Ghoush-Cheshmeh, Chisht Khoja Lour, and Kondeskouh peoples, as well as reserve staff and executive officers. The transition zone includes 43 villages spread across seven areas.

The Golestan Biosphere Reserve offers a broad ethnic diversity including Turk, Persian and Kurdish inhabitants. Their main activities consist of agriculture, animal husbandry, horticulture, industry, silk production and tourism. Adverse effects on the transition area result from traffic, overgrazing of rangelands and deforestation.

Culturally significant sites in the reserve include the tomb of a Sultan, who was a Sufi mystic respected among local communities, especially Turkmens. A part of the historic Wall of Gorgan can also be found within the reserve. Three resorts and two wildlife museums attract (mainly Iranian) tourists and visitors who come for educational, scientific and recreational purposes.

 


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