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Arasbaran Biosphere Reserve, Islamic Republic of Iran

The Arasbaran biosphere reserve is situated in the north of Iran at the border with Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus Iranian Highlands. The reserve encompasses mountains, high alpine meadows, semi-arid steppes, rangelands and forests, rivers and springs.

Arasbaran is the territory of one of the oldest tribes of the country, namely the Qaradagh or Arasbaran tribe. Economic activities in the biosphere reserve consist mainly of agriculture, animal husbandry, horticulture, apiculture, handicrafts and tourism, while business activities can be found in urbanized areas.

Designation date: 1976


Regional network:  

Ecosystem-based network: 




    Surface : 80,646.59 ha

    • Core area(s): 9,478.69 ha
    • Buffer zone(s): 62,451.20 ha
    • Transition zone(s): 8,716.70 ha

    Location: 38°55’57”N – 46°50’47”E

    Administrative Authorities

    Department of Environment
    Azadi Street
    Tabriz, 5163974131

    Tel.: +98 411-3356133

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    Ecological Characteristics

    Arasbaran is a high mountainous region with an elevation ranging from 256 m to 2,896 m above sea level. The area encompasses part of the Caucasus mountains with diverse natural landscapes including highlands, steep valleys, high and steep mountain sides, forest lands, and agricultural, mountainous and river rangelands. The Arasbaran vegetation is of particular importance among the vegetation of the country because of the uniqueness.

    In general, there are 48 mammal species, 215 bird species, 29 creeper species, 5 amphibian species and 17 fish species occupying different habitats of the reserve. Over 1,000 plant species can be found in the reserve that survived the the ice age and can be considered living fossils of the past.


    Socio-Economic Characteristics

    The Qaradagh or Arasbaran tribe is one of the oldest tribes of the country. There are six distinct tribes with a total population of 3,130 members. There are also 66 villages with a total population of 11,192, making a total population of 14,322 inhabitants living in the protected area. The main activities consist of agriculture, gardening, bee and honey production, and livestock production.

    The biosphere reserve is home to diverse forms of cultural heritage from past eras. One of the most important examples is Babak Khurramdin’s fortress, which dates back to 201-223 Hijri years (816 C.E. - 837 C.E). The biosphere reserve also presents significant potential for archaeological investigations throughout the area.


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    Last updated: February 2019