The Hyrcanian forests, which stretch from the south of Azerbaijan to about 850 kilometers eastward to the provinces of Gilan, Mazandaran, and Golestan, are eyewitness to some of the world’s most ancient forests. Hyrcanian Mixed Forests have actually survived for about 50 million years. Hyrcanian forest UNESCO site is one of the most beautiful and important tourist destinations in Iran because of its Flora and Fauna, its lore, and its national park.
These beautiful, hilly forests, tucked between the Caspian Sea and the Elburz mountains, are home to many rare and endangered animals like wolves, brown bears, golden jackals and mysterious Persian leopards with a title derived from ‘The Wolf’s Land.’ Furthermore, this ecoregion can be regarded as the “mother” of European woods, as many plants spread across the continent from these woods.
The Hyrcanian Forests make a green arc of lush and beautiful mixed broad-leaved forests which stretch from the Talish Mountain ranges in Azerbaijan to the Alborz Mountains all the way to Golestan city in Iran.
temperate broad-leaf forests make up most of the natural vegetation of Hyrcanian forest. Oriental Beech trees make up 32.7 percent of the Hyrcanian forest’s area as well. There is a paucity of conifer tree species in the area; including European yew, Junipers, Mediterranean Cypress, and Chinese Arborvitae.
Chestnut-leaved Oak, European Box, Black Alder, Caucasian Alder, Caspian Poplar, and Caucasian Wingnut originally covered the Caspian Sea coastal lowlands, but these forests have been nearly totally converted to urban and agricultural areas during the recent decades.
Alborz mountain range was once the habitat of the Caspian tiger, also called the Persian tiger, a great beast which is now extinct. The Caucasus leopard, lynx, brown bear, wild boar, wolf, golden jackal, jungle cat, badger, and otter are among the other large mammals that live in Hyrcanian forests and Alborz heights.
This ecoregion serves as a critical stopover point for birds travelling between Russia and Africa too, making it a vital habitat for a variety of bird species. Greylag goose, white-fronted goose, Little bustard, glossy ibis, Eurasian spoonbill, night heron, red-breasted goose, peregrine falcon, Dalmatian pelican, Western cattle egret, squacco heron, greater flamingo, white-headed duck, and Caspian snowcock are some of the notable birds found here.
According to Ramezan-Ali Qaemi, the manager of the World Heritage in Golestan, in an interview published on November 28, Hyrcanian forests may be as old as 50 million years. What’s even more surprising, is that in comparison to forests in other parts of Europe and Asia, a significant portion of Hyrcanian natural environment has survived.
Despite this, about a third of the Hyrcanian forests have been removed since 1950, primarily for commercial logging, livestock farming, and agriculture. Forest management plans are in place in about half of the Hyrcanian forests, and designated protected areas cover 2% of the total area. Alborz-e-Markazi, Iran’s largest protected area in the ecoregion, covers 3,988 km2, whereas Girkan National Park, Azerbaijan’s largest, covers 380 km2.
The forest contains the most valuable and important natural environment for in-situ biological diversity conservation, particularly those containing threatened species of exceptional worldwide significance from a scientific or conservation standpoint. Hyrcanian forest also features remarkable natural phenomena or places of outstanding natural beauty and artistic value.
Golestan National Park is Iran’s first and oldest national park (second being the Kavir national park) as well as one of the oldest in the world. This park, which spans over 90,000 hectares and is shared by the provinces of Khorasan, Semnan, and Golestan, is located on the common border between these cities.
Golestan National Park is one of the country’s main wildlife refuges. It was designated as a nature preserve in 1957, and after several name changes, it was designated as one of the world’s fifty natural ecological reserves by UNESCO in 1975, and it was designated as a natural heritage of Iran in 2008.
This park’s environment contains 1350 plant species and 302 animal species, making it one of the most diverse in the world. The park is home to one-eighth of the country’s plant species, one-third of its bird species, and more than half of its mammal species.