Amudarya State Nature Reserve

Date of Submission: 16/03/2009
Criteria: (x)
Category: Natural
Submitted by:
Ministry of Nature Protection of Turkmenistan
State, Province or Region:
Turkmenistan; Lebap Velayat (Regional administrative unit); Birata, Seidi and Farab etraps (Local administrative unit).
Ref.: 5436

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The Amudarya State Nature Reserve was established in 1982 and covers a total of 48 500 ha. It is split into three separate sites in the middle reaches of the Amudarya River: Nargiz (45 100 ha), Gabaklinskiy (1 200 ha) and Gereldinskiy (2 200 ha); in which the valley flood plain tugais, idge-hillocks and barkhan sands, and salt pans of the Turan lowlands are well represented. The temtory of the Reserve includes part of the Amudarya River. In the tugai thickets, wild liquorice grows. Eulophia turkestanica and Ophioglossum bucharinmt, two species of Orchidaceae are occasionally found. The Amudarya spiny sturgeon, the small Amu-Dar and large Amu-Dar shovelnose sturgeons and the pike asp can be found. The wild boar, Bukhara deer and 104 nesting bird species occur including the Amudarya pheasant (Phasianus colchicus ssp.) and hypocolius (Hjpocolius ampelinuss). In the seepage zone near the Karakum Canal the 103 000 ha. Up to 55 000 waterfowl winter. The north-eastern and eastern borders of the Reserve (62km) run along Turkmenistan's and Uzbekistan's border (mid-stream line of the Amurdarya river).

The Nargiz unit is an Important Bird Area. The bird community contains many species typical of wet woodlands, including riparian forest. Threatened species here are Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus and European Roller Coracias garrulus. Other species here include Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo, Turkestan Tit Parus bokharensis, White-winged Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucopterus, Eurasian Thick-knee Burhinus oedicnemus, Eurasian Eagle-owl Bubo bubo. The migratory flyway along the Amudarya valley passes through the IBA. Of the species that use it, 59 are waterbirds. Migratory and wintering species are Pallas's Fish-eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus, White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla, Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca, Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus, Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca; passage migrants include Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus, Osprey Pandion haliaetus, Common Crane Grus grus, Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia, Black Stork Ciconia nigra. The avifauna consists of 21 resident species, 48 breeding migrants, 41 wintering and migratory species and 103 passage migrants.

Potential threats are the expansion of agricultural fields at the expense of the gallery river forests, overgrazing, fires, poaching and over-fishing. Degradation of soil cover is observed on the left bank, because of the proximity of human settlements and frequent livestock movements in the area.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

Amudarya State Nature Reserve was established in 1982 for the purpose of conservation and restoration of tugai (riparian forest) which is typical for Central Asia's extensive river floodplains. The river gallery forests ("tugay") in some places are difficult to traverse, like real jungles. The river gallery forests hold 86 plant species, the most numerous of which are two species of poplar Populus pruinosa and P. euphratica, Russian olive Elaeagnus orientalis, Salix songarica, tamarisk, common salt-tree Halimodendron halodendron, licorice root Glycyrriza glabra and reeds, among others.  The Amudarya Reserve is the only reserve in the country where relict tugai ecosystems are conserved. The Bukhara deer (Cervus elaphus bactrianus) and the tree Populus pruinosa are included in the Red List of IUCN. More than 250 species of birds have been recorded, among them 105 have bred. This rich avian diversity is due to the Reserve's location on the seasonal flyways of migratory birds. Among ungulates there are wild boar (Sus scrofa) in the tugai and sand (or goitred) gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa) in the desert part of the Reserve. The nominated site contains the best representation of the tugai flood plain ecosystem in Central Asia and has a typical composition of native plant and animal species. A considerable part of the river valley habitat has been modified by human activities, and scientists have categorized the tugai as "a living landscape".

Criterion (x):

The outstanding species of the Amurdary State Nature Reserve is Bukhara Red Deer Cervus elaphus bactrianus (IUCN Red List status: VU), while among rare fish species are endemics such as False Shovelnose Sturgeon Pseudoscaphirhynchus kaufmanni (IUCN Red List status: EN) and Small Amu-Dar Shovelnose Sturgeon Pseudoscaphirhynchus hermanni (IUCN Red List status: (CR). The site is important for the globally threatened migrating Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus) and also Lesser white-fronted goose (Anser erythropus). Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca) White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala) and breeding Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug).

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The Amudarya State Nature Reserve represents an almost fully conserved natural ecosystem (riperian river forest) with nearly the full set of its original components. Only the Turanian Tiger (Panthera tigris ssp. virgata) is extinct. In the past insufficient part of the territory was exposed for fundamental changes, but was rehabilitating after introduction of a well functioning protection regime.

Comparison with other similar properties

Elsewhere the extensive flood plains and forests (tugai) of the plains of Central Asia are only represented along the Syrdarya River in Kazakhstan but smaller and without formal protection. In addition the Kyzyl-Kum Reserve in Uzbekistan and the Tigrovaya Balka State Nature Reserve in Tajikistan have similar ecosystems but the latter with smaller mammal populations.