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Azerbaijan Conservation

Young Researcher Identifies New Potential IBAs…

With the support of the Azerbaijan Ornithological Society (AOS; BirdLife in Azerbaijan), a young Azeri researcher Arzu Mammadov has spent the past three years surveying the birds of the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan, in the southwest part of Azerbaijan. As well as recording many species of conservation concern and identifying a number of new candidate Important Bird Areas (IBAs), he has also involved the local community and institutions in his work, becoming Chairman of the regional AOS branch.

The research project, funded by the Azerbaijan Academy of Sciences and AOS, aimed to identify potential IBAs, develop the research on existing IBAs and increase the protection of local biodiversity. Prior to this study, 217 bird species were known from the region and four IBAs had been identified. Arzu and his team have now increased the list of species to 241 and identified three new potential IBAs.The results of this successful work have already been shared with the local authorities and will now be translated into English and entered in BirdLife International’s World Bird Database. Provided that the newly proposed sites meet BirdLife’s criteria, they will then be confirmed as IBAs and listed as such in the Data Zone on the BirdLife website.

The existing and candidate IBAs of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic hold 18 globally threatened species and 24 species of European conservation concern. Arzu and his team used some of these species as ecological indicators to assess the status of the sites in which they occur, using BirdLife’s global IBA monitoring framework.

The assessment revealed that the condition of four sites (Ilandag, Negramdag, Toglugaya and Garagaya) was deteriorating because of intensive livestock grazing, cultivation, grass burning and other types of habitat degradation. However, the status of the other sites (Ordubad, Shahbuz and Araz water reservoir) was assessed as improving.

Arzu and the local AOS branch will continue to work with the local institutions to try to improve the condition of deteriorating sites and restore their biodiversity values.

4th July 2014