• caspian hyrcanian forests
  • caspian hyrcanian forests
  • caspian hyrcanian forests


About Us

The Caspian Hyrcanian Mixed Forest Ecoregion is located in northern Iran along the southern coast of the Caspian Sea and northern slopes of the Alborz Mountains. These ancient broadleaf and mixed lowland and montane forests covering 1.8 million hectares form unique and diverse communities and house many endemic and threatened tree, mammal and bird species. The area is listed by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) as a Global 200 Ecoregion, and by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA).
In addition to its key role for biodiversity, the high precipitation, fertile soils, temperate climate and beautiful scenery of the Caspian Hyrcanian Forests support many important ecosystem services for the 7.3 million people who live in the region. These include watershed services and climate regulation, tourism and agricultural opportunities. The Caspian Hyrcanian forests are also Iran’s main source of commercial timber. Among those who depend directly on the forest resources, animal husbandry is the second most important source of income for local families. Traditional husbandry systems involve the herding of livestock between lowlands, mid-altitude forests and upland forest and alpine pastures as the seasons change, meaning that the entire forest, rangeland and alpine landscape is used over the year. There is also strong traditional knowledge of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) such as tamarind, pomegranate and other wild fruits and vegetables. In addition, many plants are used either for consumption or medicinal use. Beekeeping is also carried out but with low productivity.

The most significant threats are as follows:

    Illicit felling for timber and firewood
      Unsustainable agriculture practices
    Overgrazing and damage to forest floor
      Uncoordinated economic development
      Climate change
The project aims to conserve biodiversity in key landscapes within the Caspian Hyrcanian forest ecosystems by a) strengthening the national and local policy framework governing land use in the Caspian Hyrcanian forests, b) enhancing the rights and roles of the local communities in their management, and c) demonstrating ways and means of improving management (including land use planning, zoning, compliance monitoring and enforcement). The project will work at three levels: (i) strategic policy and regulatory interventions targeted at 800,000ha across the whole 1.8 million ha forest; (ii) integrated management for multi-purpose forestry demonstrated in 4 pilot basins totalling 120,000 ha; (iii) community-based management demonstrated in 30,000 ha within two of the pilot landscapes. Capacity building will be a key theme at all three levels.

Project Pilots are:

1. Farirud-Zilakirud (Basin No. 22&23), Gilan Province

2. Dohezar-Sehezar (Basin No. 33&34), Mazandaran Province

3. Baliran (Basin No. 53), Mazandaran Province

4. Chehelchay (Basin No. 92), Golestan Province


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