Armenia and the Caucasus

The Caucasus region boasts a wide variety of flora and fauna from both Asia and Europe, and is home to numerous species of plants and animals found nowhere recognized by the international donor community and the Caucasian governments with the signing of the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD). There are about 500 vertebrate animals’ species (99 are in Red Book of Armenia) and 3500 vascular plants’ species (387 in Red Book of Armenia).

The density of higher flora species per square kilometre of more than 100 species is one of the highest in the world. Tigran’s elder is the only globally threatened plant included in the IUCN Red List.

Western Barbastelle, Geoffroy's Bat, Schaub's Bat, Mediterranean Horseshoe Bat, Lesser Horseshoe Bat, Mehely's Horseshoe Bat, Common Otter, Bezoar Goat, Armenian Mouflon, Birch Mouse, Dahl's Jird, Corn Crake, Imperial Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Marbled Duck, Darevsky's Viper, Common Tortoise are among the globally threatened vertebrate animals’ species found in Armenia.

The Caucasian Leopard, Armenian Mouflon, Bezoar Goat, Brown Bear, Caucasian Black Grouse, Caspian Snowcock, Cinereous Vulture found in Armenia are identified as focal species for the ecoregion.

A wide array of ecosystems is concentrated into a relatively small area in Armenia, contributing to the uniquely high biodiversity. Major ecosystems include forests, freshwater, high mountains, dry mountain shrublands, steppe, semi-desert, and wetland communities.

However, Caucasian ecosystems and wildlife are under serious threat from a number of pressures arising from economic crisis and unregulated human impact started after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early nineties. Illegal logging, poaching, uncontrolled livestock grazing, agriculture and infrastructure development have led to the degradation of biodiversity, leaving less than 12% of the region’s nature in its original state and having a serious detrimental impact on wildlife.

Armenia occupies only 6.7% of the Caucasus territory but shelters more than 3,500 species of wild-growing vascular plants, or over half the wealth of the Caucasus Ecoregion’s flora (about 6,000 species total).

Major Threats to Biodiversity in Armenia

The major threats to biodiversity in Armenia are tied to three broad socio-economic, political and institutional root causes. These include: mining, illegal logging, poaching, overgrazing and overfishing, infrastructure development (pipelines, road construction, hydropower plant construction, etc), and pollution of rivers and wetlands.

These threats lead to habitat degradation, decline of species populations, and disruption of ecological processes - all contributing to an overall loss of biodiversity.

Furthermore, the natural environment cannot be disassociated from human activity - the most fragile ecosystems in Armenia are also the most fragile economic areas. Supporting rural livelihood is a critical component of what we do, as well as raising awareness around environmental issues.

WWF-Armenia strives to mitigate the impact of these threats in order to restore, preserve and reinforce the beautiful and natural heritage of all Armenians.
© WWF Armenia

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