Management plan



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DRAFT

MANAGEMENT PLAN

Of


EREBUNI State Reserve

2007
BACKGROUND
Erebuni State Reserve (hereafter – Reserve) was established in 1981 with the objective of conserving wild cereals, particularly genetic resources of more than hundred varieties of wild wheat and their natural habitat.

The Reserve is located on the slopes of near-Araks folded mountain-ridge, in south-eastern Yerevan and occupies an area of 89 ha.

Despite its small sizes, the Reserve is notable for rich biodiversity. It boasts 292 species of vascular plants, representing 196 genera from 46 families (Voskanyan et al. 1988). Among them the number of crop wild relatives exceeds 40.

The developmental objective of the present management plan was creation of an official document to ensure natural evolution, conservation as well as regulating activities related to sustainable use of natural resources, as prescribed by law.

The new RA law “On Specially Protected Areas of Nature” (dated 16.12.2006 RC-211-N) for the first times in the history of specially protected areas stipulates in a separate article provisions of a management plan. According to the eighth article of this document, it is the authority of the Government of RA to approve the management plans of Specially Protected Areas of Nature (hereafter SPAN) of national and international importance1 (8-th article).

Since the official format of the management plans for SPAN is still to be approved, the present document was developed following guidelines for the management plan outlined in the 6-th paragraph of the RA law on Specially Protected Areas of Nature, as well as international guidelines and handbooks for the development of management plans for specially protected areas.

The present management plan was developed within the framework of UNEP/GEF funded project on “In situ conservation of crop wild relatives through enhanced information management and field application”.

CONTENT

PART I

Description
1.1 GENERAL INFORMATION ................................................................................. 1.1.1 Site location..................................................................................................... 1.1.2 Land tenure...................................................................................................... 1.1.3 Boundaries ...................................................................................................... 1.1.4 Conservation Status ...................................................................................... 1.1.5 Administrative/managerial infrastructure......................................................

1.1.6 Map coverage....................................................................................................
1.2 ENVIRONMENT..................................................................................................

1.2.1 Physical..........................................................................................................

1.2.1.1 Climate.........................................................................................................

1.2.1.2 Hydrology and hydrogeology........................................................................

1.2.1.3 Geology and geomorphology........................................................................

1.2.1.4 Soils.................................................................................................................

1.2.2. Biodiversity.....................................................................................................

1.2.2.1 Flora..............................................................................................................

1.2.2.2 Fauna............................................................................................................

1.2.2.3 Natural communities.....................................................................................

1.2.2.4 Landscapes..................................................................................................

1.2.2.5 Zonation........................................................................................................



1.2.3 Cultural.............................................................................................................

1.2.3.1 Land use in the past (before protected area designation).............................

1.2.3.2 Present practices of land use (history of conservation

– starting from protected area designation)..............................................................

1.2.3.3 Current public interests.................................................................................

1.2.4 Mutual relationships..........................................................................................

1.2.4.1 Interesting information about the site.............................................................

1.2.4.2 Human-induced threats..................................................................................

1.2.4.3 Natural threats..............................................................................................



1.2.5 Bibliography......................................................................................................
PART II

Evaluation
2.1 CONSERVATION STATUS AND HISTORY...........................................................

      1. Legal framework...............................................................................................

      2. Description of boundaries................................................................................


2.2 EVALUATION OF FEATURES..........................................................................

2.2.1 Size and location...............................................................................................

2.2.2 Biodiversity........................................................................................................

2.2.3 Uniqueness.......................................................................................................

2.2.4 Vulnerability......................................................................................................

2.2.5 History of the site..............................................................................................

2.2.6 Improvement perspectives................................................................................
2.3 FACTORS INFLUENCING MANAGEMENT......................................................

2.3.1 Internal human-induced factors......................................................................

2.3.2 External natural factors.....................................................................................

2.3.3 Obligations........................................................................................................

2.3.4 Legal constraints...............................................................................................

2.3.5 Management constraints..................................................................................

2.3.6 Impact assessment..........................................................................................
PART III

Goals and Objectives
3.1 LONG-TERM MANAGEMENT GOALS............................................................
3.2 FACTORS AFFECTING LONG-TERM MANAGEMENT GOALS....................
3.3 DEFINING OPERATIONAL OBJECTIVES........................................................
3.4 MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVES...........................................................................

3.4.1 Habitat management.......................................................................................

3.4.2 Species management.....................................................................................

3.4.3 Use management.............................................................................................

3.4.4 Accessibility management...............................................................................

3.4.5 Education.........................................................................................................

3.4.6 Research..........................................................................................................
PART IV

Action plan
Annex 1 Structure of Reserve-park complex State Non-commercial Organization (2007)

Annex 2 List and richness of higher plant families occurring at Erebuni State Reserve and adjacent areas

Annex 3 Vascular plant flora of Erebuni State Reserve

Annex 4 Charter of Erebuni State Reserve

Annex 5 List of fauna of Erebuni State Reserve
PART I

Description
1.1 GENERAL INFORMATION

Erebuni State Reserve (hereafter – the Reserve) is a globally unique protected area, specifically established for the conservation of wild relatives of cereal crops. Its floristic composition is characterized by the presence of wild wheats (Triticum), Vavilov’s rye (Secale vavilovii), wild barley (Hordeum), Amblyopirum muticum, goatgrasses (Aegilops), along with their rich interspecific diversity.


1.1.1 Site location

The Reserve is located in the southern Sub Caucasus, on the territory of the Republic of Armenia, in the north-east of Armenian highland. The Reserve occupies an area of 89 ha and crosses administrative borders of Hatsavan and Voghchaberd communities of Kotayk marz, and Erebuni community of Yerevan city, at the elevation ranging from 1189 to 1414 m.


The following are the extreme points of the Reserve: Northernmost (44,6158; 40,1519); Southernmost (44,6202; 40,1441); Easternmost (44,6228; 40,1475), Westernmost (44,6028; 40,1471).

1.1.2 Land tenure

According to the Land codex of RA, lands of reserves fall under the category of specially protected areas – defined as lands of conservation interest.

Land of the Reserve is a state property assigned for indefinite period to Reserve-park complex State Non-commercial Organization of the Ministry of Nature Protection for free use.
The area adjacent to the Reserve is agricultural land mainly, used as pastures or under cultivation. They belong to the rural communities of Mushavan, Voghchaberd and Hatsavan villages and are private or community properties.
1.1.3 Boundaries

Erebuni State Reserve was established following decree of the council of ministers of Armenian SSR N324 dated May 27, 1981, where boundaries of the site were described using administrative divisions and names of administrative subunits of Soviet times. The decree stipulates that the Reserve, covering 89 ha is located on the border of Abovyan and Artashat regions, between Shorbulakh and Geghadir villages. The southern border is marked by ruins and debris, the south-western border is delineated by Erebuni forestry, whereas north-eastern border is marked by Geghadir forestry.

Image 1: Borders of Erebuni reserve and adjacent communities.
According to present administrative divisions and new names of administrative subunits and settlements, the Reserve is located on the border of Kotayk marz and Yerevan city, more specifically, on the border of Mushavan district of Erebuni community of Yerevan city, and Hatsavan and Voghchaberd villages (image 1) The nearest settlements of the Reserve are Voghchaberd, Geghadir and Hatsavan villages of Kotayk marzes, Bardzrashen village of Ararat marz and Mushavan district (former Shorbulagh village) of Erebuni community in Yerevan city.


1.1.4 Conservation Status

Erebuni State Reserve is a site of environmental and conservation interest, where natural ecosystems, incorporating wild wheats and their close relatives, evolve without direct human intervention.

According to the charter of the Reserve, the following activities are prohibited in the area:

a) use of water resources or any other activity disturbing water balance,

b) construction and operation of economic and residential buildings, construction of roads, pipelines, electricity supply lines and other communication lines – except for constructions that are required for the operation of the Reserve,

c) hunting, fishing or disturbing natural habitats of animals,

d) introducing new species of animals and plants, as well as any activities directed towards increasing or reducing the number of species,

e) collection of specimens for herbaria/museums, except for the materials, required for conducting scientific research in the area,

f) use of chemicals, including fertilizers and pesticides,

g) geological prospecting conducted by test mining’s, surface opening, blasting or any other technique disturbing natural environment,

h) ore processing, damaging soil-cover, any other mining activity,

i) tree-cutting, collection of plants, flowers and seeds, grazing, hey mowing, other activities disturbing vegetation-cover,

j) transportation with automated vehicles and parking outside the permitted road network, or in areas not specially allocated for that purposes,

k) any other activity disturbing the ecosystem and its components, or potentially threatening conservation of the objects representing scientific or cultural value.


2. Entrance to the Reserve is permitted for the following activities:

a) scientific research or official visits related to the operation of the site,

b) controlled tourism.
1.1.5 Administrative/managerial infrastructure

The body responsible for the overall management of the Reserve is the founder, i.e. Government of the Republic of Armenia, its authorized body, represented by the Ministry of Nature Protection of RA, and the executive body under its jurisdiction, namely Reserve-Park Complex State Non-commercial Organization (hereafter SNCO) with its director. The Reserve-Park Complex SNCO was established in 2002, as a result of Reserve-Park Complex State organization restructuring.


The Reserve-Park Complex SNCO is a not-for-profit scientific research, conservation and scientific-educational organization with a legal entity status. Apart from Erebuni state reserve is responsible for the management of 2 reservations (Sev Lich and Vordan Karmir), 4 arboreta (Ijevan, “Sochut’ of Stepanavan, “Soranner” of Berd, Vanadzor) and Jrvezh forest-park (Annex 1). In all the mentioned areas (with the total coverage of 1060 ha) the SNCO is responsible for the conservation, protection, restoration, regeneration, accounting, monitoring and scientific research of the natural ecosystems, landscape and biological diversities, living collections of trees and shrubs of arboreta and forest park.
At present 74 employees work at SNCO (Annex 1). Of them the scientific personnel is represented by 3 researchers, responsible for scientific activities in all SPAN listed above, including Erebuni reserve.
Protection of the Reserve is carried out by responsible guard service personnel of the SNCO. Three people are currently assigned: one supervisor and two inspectors.
The administrative building of Reserve-park Complex SNCO is located on the territory of Jrvezh rural community, in Jrvezh forest-park. There is no separate administrative personnel and administrative building for Erebuni State Reserve.
The Bioresource Management Agency of the staff of the Ministry of Nature Protection of RA contributes to the management of the Reserve by ensuring:

  • Availability of appropriate legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity,

  • Organizing research of the flora and fauna,

  • Development of conservation, research and site improvement plans/programs and submitting them for state financing

  • Establishment of a baseline and keeping cadastre of the Reserve,

  • Coordination and control over activities of the SNCO.


1.1.6 Map coverage

No detailed maps were available in the past. Within the framework of UNEP/GEF funded project on “In situ conservation of Crop Wild Relatives Through Enhanced Information Management and Field application”’, as a part of activities directed towards development of a management plan for Erebuni State Reserve, the following maps were produced: boundaries of the Reserve with borders of administrative divisions overlaid (1:25,000 scale: Image 1), elevation map (1:10,000 scale: Image 2), geological map (1:10,000 scale: Image 3), hydrogeological (1:10,000 scale: Image 4), a map of landslides in the vicinity of the Reserve (1:25,000 scale: Image 5), map of soils (1:50,000 scale: Image 6), topography map (1:10,000 scale; Image 7). Three-dimensional image was created (Image 8) by using a digital model of elevations, to analyze and present morphometric characteristics of the site. Slope (Image 9) and aspect (Image 10) maps were also developed.


Border delineation of the Reserve was scheduled for 2007 within the framework as a state-funded project on “Revision, border delineation and mapping of SPAs”.


1.2 ENVIRONMENT
1.2.1 Physical
1.2.1.1 Climate

The area of the reserve is characterized by domination of two agro-climatic zones: dry sharp continental and dry continental, and is characterized by extreme fluctuations of annual and daily temperature and humidity.


Winters are cold, with permanent snow cover establishing from December and lasting for almost 3 months (from December till February). According to long-term observations, the mean temperature of the first decade in December is 1,6oC, whereas that of the second and third decades is -0, 3 and -2,3oC, respectively. The average temperature of the three decades in January fluctuate between -4,3oC and -6,5oC. In February this index is in the range of -5,5oC and -1,5oC.
Summer is long, dry and hot. Mean temeperature of June varries between 20oC and 24oC, whlie that of July is 24oC to 26oC and higher. The mean temperature in August reaches 27oC.
Mean annual precipitation is 317mm. Maximum precipitation in spring is 129mm, in winter this index falls to 70mm. Precipitation is minimal in July (15mm), August (11mm) and September (12mm).
Direction of winds is mainly from north-east to south-west.
The depth of soil freezing is usually 10-12cm, but sometimes can reach 20cm. The water fraction can stay in liquid-drop phaze in the soil for 9-11 months.

1.2.1.2 Hydrology and hydrogeology

The are no permanent river flows on the territory of the Reserve. The gullies are dry. The only seasonal river flow, the Shor-jur (Shorbulagh) river, was observed in April 2007 in the gorge that marks the northern border of the Reserve. Neither there are springs reported on the area of the Reserve (Image 4).
In terms of hydrogeology, the site is characterized by the absence of groundwater tables or their deep location. The groudwaters are at up to 10 m depth. Temporary groundwater flaws can be caused by infiltration of precipitation or technogene waters. There is no literature data on special studies conducted directly at the site of the Reserve, however, quite detailed research was conducted in the area, adjacent to the Reserve, which has served as a site for disposal of chemical wastes. Given geological and topographic similarities of both sites, this data can be extrapolated for the area of Erebuni reserve. As the “variegated” saline and gypsum layers are impermeable to water, the precipitation that infiltrates through upper, thin layer is removed rapidly through surfaces of these rocks. For this reason, on the days following precipitation only technogene water emergences remain, which run through ”covering” and modified formations and discharge into the Shor-jur rivulet.
As shown on the hydrogeological map (Image 4), ground waters are mainly at the 10-20m depth. Ground waters in the gully along the northern border of the Reserve are located on the depth of less than 5m.
1.2.1.3 Geology and geomorphology

The Reserve is located at the middle flow basin of Garni river, on the borders of expansion of the so-called “variegated” thick layer groups of Shoraghpyur. The group of layers is comprised of conglomerates of upper Oligocene to lower Miocene age, sandy-clay sediments, gypsum and saline clays. In the area of interest the layer is comprised of sandy rocks, siltstones and clays that enclose gypsum accumulations.


The described group of layers is followed by younger igneous-sedimentary rocks of younger, Pliocene age. They are in turn followed by igneous formations of Pliocene-Pleistocene age, represented by andesinite basalt lava flows and tuff accumulations.
At the site of interest the basalt rocks are exposed on the northern border, whereas the black consolidated tuffs in the south-eastern part (Image 3).
The geological profile ends with upper tertiary and contemporary river alluvium and accumulations of debris from weathering products.
The relief of the site is extremely diverse. External factors that affect its formation are deep erosion of rivers, surface weathering and leaching (mild to medium strength) by temporary water flows, as well as gravitation processes of the slopes (landslides).
In terms of geomorphologic classification the site is characterized as medium mountain plateau.
The extreme points of the site are: highest at 1414m, which is on the eastern border of the Reserve, lowest at 1189 m. The most common is 1265 elevation, the mean altitude being 1285m, with a standard deviation of 46, 6 m. This high variation of elevations has affected the flora, structure and composition of plant communities and landscape type.
The slope of the site is from north-east to south-west. Statistical indices of elevations indicate nonsmooth but gentle horizontal ruggedness of terrain.
The degree of ruggedness and density of gully network is significant; however gullies are not that deep.
A number of external factors are affected by slopes, among them flow of surface waters, weathering of rocks, leaching and removal of rocks and soil. Spatial distribution of slopes is presented on Image 9.
Aspect has a profound impact on vegetation, as factors like illumination and temperature depend on this factor. For this reason statistical and spatial analysis of the slope aspect was performed (Image 10).
The site extends from east to west and is about 1550 m long. The width in the middle part is about 600-700.
1.2.1.4 Soils

The soil of the Reserve is characterized as paleohydromorphic alloyed relict salty-alkaline sodium-sulfate-chloride weak clay soil (Image 6) type.


Present soil-cover is comprised of clay soils of various strength and their origin is associated with elementary clays of Miocene age formed in a lake basin. Because of site elevation, there are no groudwaters in the soil of the area.
Soils are characterized by various degrees of erosion and stoniness. They are affected by complex topography, aspect, and the most important – slopes of the site. The thickness of soil cover varies, on the steep slopes it doesn’t exceed 15-20 cm.
Thick clay soils usually cover gentle slopes of up to 12-15o, or relatively plain areas. Soils here are not eroded or slightly eroded. Before protected area designation about 29 ha of this plain sites was planted by wild almond trees. Similar soil cover is typical for gently slopes. These soils are slightly eroded with medium surface stoniness. In this area, also, about 2 was has planted by trees. The remaining 58,8 ha (which constitutes 65,88% ) of the total area, are mainly relatively undisturbed natural lands. In the past they were used as pastures . Part of these soils is also mildly eroded clays with medium surface stoniness. The steepness of slopes is mild to medium.
The slopes with medium steepness (15-30o) are characterized by mildly eroded clay soil cover of medium thickness, with medium to weak stoniness. They cover 13 ha, or 15 % of the total area.
The steepest slopes (25-30%) are severely eroded, with gentle surface stoniness. Such areas cover more than 24 ha (27 %), of the total area, which are undisturbed natural lands and before designation of a protected area they were used as pasturelands.
1.2.2. Biodiversity

The first and only inventory of biodiversity at the Reserve was conducted 20 years ago, immediately after its foundation (Voskanyan V. et al. 1983-1988; Avagyan V. and Voskanyan V., 1987) exclusively covering vascular plants occurring at the site.

1.2.2.1 Flora

The flora of the higher plants of the Reserve is represented by 292 species of 196 genera from 46 families (see Annex 3).


Dominating families are Asteraceae (57 species), Fabaceae (32 species), Poaceae (30 species), Brassicaceae (26 species). Monocots are represented by 44 species and comprise 15% of the flora. Herbaceous plants dominate in the Reserve (93,2 %, 272 species). Of them 146 (53,7 %) are annuals and biennials. Shrubs and semishrubs (represented by 20 species) area also important in the vegetative cover of the Reserve. Temperature and soil humidity of the area during first half of the vegetation are favorable for development of annual cereals and ephemeral species (wild species of wheat, goatgrasses, barley, etc,). Absence of dense community and lumpiness of soil decreases or altogether eliminates competition in the rhizosphere and assimilation zones.
Single plants or small groups of wild wheats and goatgrasses(Triticum araraticum, T. boeoticum, Aegilops cylindrica, A. tauschii, etc.) can be encountered all along the Reserve, including undisturbed landscapes. The latter areas are mainly dominated by perennial plants.
Dense stands of wild wheats and Aegilopses (Triticum araraticum, T. boeoticum) (Image 11) are mainly associated with areas, where soil lumpiness is minimal or absent. T. urartu grows in small groups, in association with two other whaet species. The vegetation here is mainly comprised of ephemerous and ephemeroid species, mainly annual or perennial, with short vegetation phase (Image 12). The green matter (remnants of plants) degrades and mineralises during the same or the next vegetation period. Similar favorable growth conditions are created for wheats in the areas, planted by trees. Here shrubs of wild almong (Amygdalus fenzliana) are still preseved in patches (Image 13).
Apart from three species of wild wheat, the reserve is also home to wild rye (Secale vavilovii) , and several species of barley (Hordeum), goatgrasses (Image 14) and other Poaceae.
Among species listed in the Red Data Book of Armenia the Reserve is home to Vavilov’s rye (Secale vavilovii), Triticum araraticum, wild einkorn wheat (Triticum boeoticum), Triticum urartu, Gladiolus atroviolaceus, Actinolema macrolema, Iris elegantissima, Merendera trigyna, etc. (see Annex 3). The Reserve is also rich in endemic plant species of Armenia (Image 15).
1.2.2.2 Fauna

Unlike the flora, fauna of the Reserve is largely unstudied. Available information is scarce and vague.

Within the framework of the project, field studies were organized in 2007 to investigate the fauna of the Reserve.

Generally, landscape and climate are favorable for dry mountain steppe and semidesert xerophyte fauna. Here, relict red clay deserts extend from Jrvezh to Sovetashen (South-Eastern border of Yerevan city) with their unique fauna (Yablokov-Khndzoryan, 1961).



Invertebrates

The major groups of invertebrates occurring in the Reserve are Mollusks, Scorpions and Insects.

 Mollusks (Mollusca ) are represented by 22 species of 15 genera from 13 families. There are two endemic species of mollusks. Noteworthy in this group is Helicella derbentina–very common on grasses and shrubs, which is an intermediate host of helminthes, parasites of livestock (Image16).

Three species of scorpions (Scorpiones) out of 2 genera are known in Armenia. Of them two species of one genus occur in this are. The yellow scorpion (Buttus caucasicus)  can reach 2000m elevations.

The group of insects is notable for the species richness (more than 750 species), diversity of taxonomic (10 orders, 73 families, 348 genera) and ecological groups. They are common in soil clefts, under stones, manure-rich soils, manure, nests of rodents, plants, remnants of plants and animals. There are species, which on certain development stages live in water environments (dragon-fly, waterleaf, etc.).

 The insects inhabiting this area are typical of semidesert and desert vegetation. The site is home to 6 rare species, 4 endemic species, and there are 73 species of insects that in Armenia occur in this area only. In terms of dietary preferences, insets here are quite diverse. All major groups are represented: carnivores, scavengers, herbivores, omnivores. Among omnivores there are species associated with certain type of vegetation, or certain plant species. In this group the insects that eat leaf, seeds of wheat species and can damage the spike (Image 17) are noteworthy (see Annex 5). In the end of August and in autumn huge populations of grasshoppers and crickets appear at the margines of wild and cultivated wheat fields (Image 18) .    



Vertebrates

The following classes of vertebrates are known to occur in the area: amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.  

 Amphibians are represented by one order, with 4 families and 5 species. In this group Pelobates syriacus is included in the Red Data Book of Armenia.

Reptiles: There are 24 species of reptiles in the area from 20 genera, 9 families and 3 orders. Three species of reptiles occurring in the Reserve are listed in the Red Data book of Armenia. Among other snakes, this site is home to Macrovipera lebetina.

Birds: The fauna of birds is represented by 56 species out of 40 genera, 22 families and 9 orders. Ten of these species are listed in the Red Data Book of Armenia, 6 species are rare (Adamyan, 1999) .

 Unlike other vertebrates, birds are dynamic and they are recorded in particular area with certain degree of certainty. Among groups occurring in the area, the following can be distinguished: nesting on the ground (species of Oenanthе, Emb. Hortulana  Emberizia buchanani ), nesting in halls (Merops apiaster, Coractas garullus, Oenanthe isabellina), nesting in shrubs ((Hippolais pallida, H. languida), nesting in rock clefts and rock piles (Falco naumanni, Sturnus roseus, Petronia petronia), nesting in plantations, etc.

Mammals (Mammalia) are less dynamic than birds. Fourteen species of mammals were recorded in the area, from 11 genera of 6 families and 3 orders. The broad ear hedgehog (Hemiechinus auritus), inhabiting semideserts and listed in the Red Data Book of Armenia also occurs here. Wolf and fox are common for the mountain steppes. In search for food they enter semidesert zone, rich in rodents, birds, other animals. A typical representative of semidesert and desert is jerboa (Dipodidae). Huge number of holes in the area indicates that their population is quite large. This should be attributed to availability of food: wild wheats and legumes. Other Rodents occurring in the area and potentially harmful for cereals are Sylvaemus uralensis, Microtus socialis, Microtus arvalis, Cricetulus migratorius, Meriones persicus, Meriones tristrami (tristram’s jird) Meriones vinogradovi), etc.

The fauna of invertebrates and vertebrates is mainly comprised of species common for desert and semidesert, which is explained by nature and climate similarities of dry mountain steppe and semideserts.   

The faunistic spectra mainly includes Mediterranean, Irano-Turanian, Caucasian, Eastern-Palearctic elements and six endemic species. Thirteen species were identified feeding on wheat on different stages of its development. Note should be made on the importance of rodents and birds in disseminating seeds of wheat.

 Also noteworthy are some species of mollusks, Orthoptera and Homoptera. According to literature data, they can transfer fungal and other diseases of wheats.  

The list of animals that occur in the Reserve is presented in Annex 5.
1.2.2.3 Communities

In spite of its small size (89 ha), the Reserve is notable for the diversity of plant communities. The variability of plant associations and groups is attributed to various elevations, differences in aspects and human factor.


Several main groups of biotopes and ecotopes can be identified, with classification based on the status of plant communities and degree of vegetation development.
First group are relatively old, undisturbed natural plant communities, typical for the site and well adapted to zonal ecological conditions. The sites here are characterized by the lumpiness of soil and different extent of plant-cover. In these communities wild relatives of wheats are represented by single plants or small plant groups.
Unlike the first group, the lowlands are relatively plain or with gentle slopes. Before the conservation history this area was cultivated with wild almond (Image 19). The introduced tree and shrub species are now gradually forced out and the area is subject to succession. In this area wild wheats and goatgrasses form massive stands (Voskanyan V.E., Harutunyan A.S., 1988)
1.2.2.4 Landscape

The Reserve is located on the border of dry mountain-steppe and sagebrush- semi desert zones.

Dry mountain-steppe vegetation is represented by small groups of tragacanth gazes and perennial cereals (Image 20). Edificators, dominant species and projection coverage varies with aspect.
The major edificator of semidesert vegetation is Artemisia fragrans.
In both zones dry shrubs, semishrubs (Thymus kotschyanus, Teucrium polium), ephemers and ephemeroides (Actinolema macrolema, Gladiolus atroviolaceus, Allium atroviolaceum) are present.
1.2.2.5 Zonation

The buffer zone of the Reserve was defined in the decree of the Council of Ministers of Armenian SSR, N295 on “Outlining buffer zone of Erebuni Sate Reserve” dated May 18, 1984. According to this document, 1km wide band surrounding the Reserve was allocated from Armenian SSR State forestry lands to serve as a buffer zone. Although the charter of the Reserve (Government decree of RA N827 dated July 3, 2003) also stipulates allocation of a buffer zone as 100 m wide band, however, up to now this buffer zone is not delineated and in fact it doesn’t exist.


1.2.3 Cultural

Armenia is one of the oldest cultural centers of civilization. Armenian highland was inhabited since Pleistocene, whereas agriculture has started to develop in the area from Eolithic age. During excavations in the monuments dated VI-III centuries BC (Shengavit) mixtures of barley and wheat were found. Pure wheat was discovered during excavations from sites aged 1 thousand year BC (Karmir Blur, etc.).


Wheat in Armenia has been a major food crop for ages. Many landraces were bred as a result of century-old selection by local farmers.
Unfortunately, many landraces were lost in recent years, replaced by introduced high-yielding cultivars. The fate of many wheat landraces is unknown.
Conservation of this area, harboring such a rich and valuable genetic resource is an issue of global importance.

1.2.3.1 Land use in past (before protected area designation)

Before protected area designation, the most part of the area was under Mushavan (Shorbulakh) community, and a smaller area was assigned to Geghadir village. According to the reports of the Mushavan population, starting from 1948 the area was used by the collective farmers of Mushavan, as a part of executing decree of the Council of Ministers of USSR “On the rational use of community lands”. When the land was transferred to Erebuni and Geghadir forestries, the area of Erebuni forestry was aforestated with the domination of Amygdalus fenzliana shrubs. For a long time the area was used as a pastureland, however, with low productivity. This area is also an important supplier of edible and medicinal plants, which were collected from the area from ancient times.
Before 1980’s part of the land adjacent to the Reserve were used as pastures. The remaining land was planted with non-irrigated wheat. After land privatization the cultivated land reduced in acreage, because of landslides that affected the area.

1.2.3.2 Present practices of land use (history of conservation – starting from the

designation of protected area)

Land of the Reserve is a state property assigned from 2002 to Reserve-park complex State Non-commercial Organization of the Ministry of Nature Protection for free use, to ensure implementation of obligation stipulated by the charter of the Reserve.


According to the RA law on specially protected areas (2006), the following forms of uses are permitted in the Reserve:

a) Scientific research, accounting, inventory, monitoring of natural ecosystems, biodiversity, landscape elements, nature heritages,

b) Organizing ecotourism along routes specified in the management plan of the Reserve

c) Organizing internship of students of relevant specialties

d)Mowing and beekeeping by authorized bodies, to meet needs of the personnel, carried out in specially allocated places, on the areas of no scientific or practical value.
1.2.3.3. Current public interests

Unique genetic diversity of the plant species occurring in the Reserve is of prime scientific and economical importance.


Crop wild relatives (CWR) are those representatives of native flora that are genetically and evolutionally close to cultivated varieties and can serve as donors of characteristics absent or weakly expressed in their related cultigens. Therefore, conservation and sustainable use of the CWRs is a global issue, as they can provide solution to ensuring food security, improving agricultural production, increasing yield, reducing poverty and contribute to environmental conservation. Study of their ecological and biological characteristics in their native environment (in situ) can contribute valuable information for their further application in breeding, hybridization, practical genetics.
Given the importance that this site has for humankind, it was reasonable to choose Strict Reserve as the management Category. The stakeholders with their respective interests in the site are scientists, conservation experts, breeders, farmers and agricultural workers.
It should be noted, however, that designating the area as a Strict Reserve has evoked protests of the local communities, as this prohibited the traditional uses of the biological resources (collection of wild edible plants, cattle grazing and hey harvest) in the area.
1.2.4. Mutual relationships

The settlements surrounding the Reserve are Voghchaberd, Geghadir and Hatsavan villages of Kotayk marz, Bardzrashen village of Ararat marz and Mushavan district of Erebuni community of Yerevan city. The Reserve has common borders with Mushavan community (2,6 km common border on north-west, west and south), Voghchaberd (1 km border in north-east, east and south-east) and Hatsavan, bordering the Reserve from south-east (350m of common border) (Image 1). The shortest distance of the Reserve from Geghadir village is 1 km, whereas Bardzrasen is on 500 m distance from the Reserve.


The total number of population in the 3 nearest settlements is 3503, of them 1781 in Mushavan, 1120 in Voghchaberd and 602 in Hatsavan.
The main occupation of the population in the villages is agriculture and cattle breading (about 80 % of population). The livestock counts 1570 heads, of them 470 in Mushavan, 300 in Voghchaberd, 300 in Hatsavan.
Pastures for the cattle are the lands surrounding the villages and adjacent to the Reserve. The paths leading to pastures in some places approach the boarder of the Reserve (Image 21).
With exception for a bakery, there are no large production units in the villages. Therefore, there is no adverse impact of industrial activity on the Reserve.

Each village has a school.

Lands adjacent to the Reserve are of agricultural use, namely arable lands, heylands and pastures.

Mushavan summerhouses are located in a close proximity to the Reserve, however because of landslides, most of them are abandoned (Image 22).

1.2.4.1 Interesting information about the site

It was reported that designating the site as a protected area has evoked protests of the local population of Mushavan village. The latters even attempted to take back the lands, motivating that the wild wheats have hardly survived in the area, as it was under agricultural cultivation for a long time. On the other hand, they argued, for Armenia with scarce soil resources it is not reasonable to take 89 ha out of agricultural circulation. Several articles appeared in periodicals on this issue.

1.2.4.2 Human-induced threats

Surveys conducted in the settlements surrounding the Reserve have shown that the population is largely unaware of the Reserve and the conservation, economical and scientific importance of the site. Only population of Mushavan and to some degree of Voghchaberd had basic knowledge about the area, which doesn’t include, however, the mission of establishing the Reserve and its value for humankind. To the low awareness and absence of fences and boundary signages should be attributed frequent violation of the regime of the Reserve, particularly grazing and collection of edible and medicinal plants (sorrel, purslane, mallow, sagebrush, capers, thyme, etc.).


In the areas adjacent to the Reserve only nitrogen fertilizers are used in negligible quantities. Other fertilizers and pesticides are not used, as they are expensive. Neither there are harmful gas emissions, as there is no industrial production in the area. It can be concluded, therefore, that there is no threat of land pollution. The major threat identified for the site is the deposit of chemical wastes located near southern border of the Reserve. According to the results of monitoring, no discharges have been recorded recently; however no information is available on the chemical composition of wastes and agency in charge.
Eastern and northern parts of the area, including buffer zone, are used as pastures for cattle (Image 23).

1.2.4.3 Natural threats


Landslides

The whole area of Voghchaberd and part of Mushavan are in the zone of landslides. This creates difficulties for construction and agricultural activities, however, no landslides were detected in the area of the Reserve itself (Image 5).


Factors contributing to the development of landslides in the vicinity of Yerevan city (including area of the Reserve) are expansion of thick layers of clay rocks, active seismic faults, as well as human activity. Among tectonic faults causing landslides is Jrvezh fault, which crosses Erebuni district in the north, further extending to Vardashen-Jrvezh-Geghashen. The second fault extends to former upper Jrashen and Mushavan settlements. Adjacent to these faults are Verin Jrashen, Shoraghbjur and Voghchaberd landslides (Image 24). The fault, adjacent to Hatsavan landslide passes through the northern edge of Vardashen village and laterally extends along Shoragpjur river-bed.
Voghchaberd, Southern Hatsavan, Hatsavan-Bardzrashen, North-eastern Bardzrashen and Eastern Hatsavan landslides are external geological processes, identified in the vicinity of the Reserve that can have profound impact on its relief (Table 1).

Table 1


Major landslides identified in the vicinity of Erebuni Reserve

Characteristics of landslides

Names of the landslides, according to location


Voghchaberd

Southern Hatsavan

Hatsavan-Bardzrashen

North-eastern Bardzrashen

Eastern Hatsavan

Total surface, ha

370

1,1

1,5

1,2

0.5

Of them, threatening settlements, ha

370

1,1

1,5

1,2

0.5

Depth coverage, m

-

7

5

7

5

Availability of ground waters

+

-

-

+

+

Slope, degree

25-30

20-25

20-25

30-35

30-35

Seismic activity of the site, points

5-6

7-8

6-7

7-8

7-8

Population at threat

1500

590

-

-

-

Including at landslide area, %

65

20

-

-

-

A small landslide element was identified In the close proximity of the Reserve recetly, which became active few years ago. The area of chemical waste disposal is located right above it. This element is body is located 5 km south of Geghadir community.


Mudflows
According to 1:500,000 scale zonation of the mudflow threat, the area is characterized as first: no dangerous and second: slightly dangerous on a four point magnitude.
More detailed (1:10,000 scale) scrutiny of mudflow danger indicates that in Shrobulakh gorge surface leaches are very likely (Image 25). However, due to limited extend of weathered slopes, the amount of collected coarse particles is not that much, which reduces the treat of mudflows.
Seismic and tectonic characteristics of the area
The site is located near Garni-Yelpin active tectonic break-up and Voghchaberd and Aramus break-ups at its north –western wings. They are crossed by Azat-Sevan active tectonic break-up in the north-east (Image 24). Also presented on the map are epicenters of the most severe earthquakes.
According to RA state regulations for seismic stability engineering, the site is classified into second and third zone of seismic regioning, where maximum expected horizontal ground acceleration are 0,3 g and 0,4 g. The magnitude of possible earthquakes in the first zone is 8-9 points, whereas in the second zone it is above 9 points.
According to recent data, the most likely parameters of earthquake are ’, 0 13’, M= 6,0 , H = 10 km, and its epicenter is expected on the cross of Garni-Yelpin and Aramus break-ups.


1.2.5 Bibliography

  1. Takhtadjyan, A.L., Fedorov, An. A,. 1972. Flora of Yerevan. Leningrad, Nauka (in Russian)

  2. Atlas of Armenian SSR, 1961. Academy of Sciences of Armenian SSR, Yerevan-Moscow (in Russian)

  3. Nature Conservancy Concil. 1988. Site management plan for nature conservation. A working guide. Interpretive Sevices Branch, Peterborough, UK. 40p.

  4. Heywood, V.N. & Dulloo, M.E.. 2005 .In situ conservation of wild plant species. IPGRI (International Plant Genetic Resources Institute) Technical Bulletin No11.

  5. Manual of Ramsar Convention bureau How to develop a management plan

  6. Wheat and its wild relatives in Armenia . Institute of Botany of the RA National Academy of Sciences , Lusabats publishing-house, Yerevan (in Armenian)

  7. Barseghyan, A. 2000. Nature of Armenia: collection of articles. 1-2 Yerevan (in Armenian)

  8. Biodiversity of Armenia, 1999, First national report, Yerevan

  9. Yedilyan, R.A., Petrosyan,G.P., Rozova, N.N. 1976. Soils of Armenian SSR, Yerevan, Ajastan publishing-house (in Russian).

  10. Avakyan, V.A., Voskanyan V.E. 1987. Study of plant resources of Erebuni Reserve. Collection of scientific papers. Genetic resources of crops and their wild relatives in Subcaucasus, Yerevan (in Russian)

  11. Voskanyan, V.E. , Harutunyan, A.S. 1988. Floristic composition of Erebuni Reserve of Armenian SSR. V. XLI, N6. (in Russian)

  12. Ghandilyan, P.A.. 1980. Identification guide of wheat, goatgrasses and barley. Yerevan (in Russian) .

  13. Voskanyan, V. E. 2006. Resources of cereals at Erebuni State Reserve and adjacent areas. Agroscience 3-4, Yerevan (in Armenian)

  14. Agroclimatic reference-book of Armenian SSR. 1961.Hydrometeorological Publications, Leningrad (in Russian)

  15. Climate reference-book of USSR. 1966. Issue 16, Hydrometeorological Publications, Leningrad (in Russian)

  16. Geology of Armenian SSR. 1962. v. 1 Geomorphology. Publication of the Academy of Sciences of Armenian SSR, Yerevan (in Russian) .

  17. Ghandilyan P.A., Avakyan, V. A. 2001. Erebuni State Reserve, Yerevan (in Russian)

  18. Avagyan A. et al, 1999. Sceintific, operational and informational support for a long-term project on protecting territory of the Republic of Armenia from external processes. Yerevan, Manuscript-Report, p. 42-55 (in Russian)

  19. Atlas of Agriculture of Armenian SSR, 1984, Moscow-Yerevan (in Russian)

  20. Maps on seismic microzonation of Yerevan, 1991. HayinjNakhagits (Armenian Engineering Projects) Manuscrpit, Resources of the Ministray of urban development (in Armenian)

  21. Yadoyan R.B. 2005. Actions to ensure security of the chemical deposits. Mauscipt, Library of the Institute of Geology, Yerevan (in Armenian)

  22. Construction regulations of the Republic of Armenia, II-6.02-2006 (in Armenian)

  23. Bojnagryan V. Contemporary relief-formation map of Yerevan and its vicinity (scale:1:25,000)

  24. Ter-Minasyan, R., Karamyan A. 2007. Assessing the threat of spring river floods Geographical science in Armenia: present and future. Yerevan (in Armenian)






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