Establishment of Lake Arpi National Park
“Ecoregional Conservation Programme in the Southern Caucasus Region: Establishment of Protected Areas in Armenia’s Javakhq (Ashotsk) Region”
The Javakhq-Shirak plateau in Armenia is part of a large high mountain plateau of volcanic origin shared by Armenia, Georgia and Turkey. The Javakhq-Shirak ecosystem with its mountain steppes, sub-alpine grasslands as well as lakes and wetlands is unique to the Caucasus ecoregion and was selected as priority conservation area “Javakhq-Shirak” in the “Ecoregional Conservation Plan for the Caucasus”. The ecosystem is recognized as a globally important staging and breeding ground for migratory and resident bird species, of which several are listed as endangered in the IUCN Red Data Book. Preserving this unique ecosystem calls for a coordinated approach to nature conservation and management across national boundaries, accompanied by sustainable development measures for local people.
On the Armenian side of Javakhq-Shirak plateau small streams and rivers originating from the surrounding mountain slopes drain into Lake Arpi and some smaller lakes and wetlands around and below Lake Arpi. More than 140 bird species have been recorded in the area of which 80-85 are also nesting there. Of those 80-85 are 7 species of global conservation concern, including the Dalmatian pelican (Pelicanus crispus) and the Corn crake (Crex crex) which are nesting there. The endemic Armenian gull (Larus armeniacus) is breeding on the islands in Lake Arpi.
Javakhq-Shirak area is characterized by a continental climate with severe winters and deep snow from November/December until March. The harsh climate not only limits accessibility to the area but also its suitability for agriculture production. There are about 3,300 people in 16 communities living in Amasia region in the project area around the lakes and wetlands and about 8,300 people in 24 communities in the wider area relevant for the project (Amasia and Ashotsk regions). People in the project area mostly depend on subsistence agriculture and livestock.
While the mountain grasslands above the lake towards the country borders are relatively intact, Lake Arpi itself and some of the surrounding grass- and wetlands have been altered and degraded by human use. Intensive grazing by cows and also sheep is a major problem for the grass- and wetlands around the villages and lakes. Several wetlands have been drained and are intensively used for haymaking. The hydrological systems of Lake Arpi and wetlands below have been altered through a dam which was built between 1946 and 1950. Due to the dam the lake surface increased almost four times and its average depth two times. The lake surface fluctuates unnaturally throughout the year. The outflow of the lake – Akhurian River – was channelled cutting off the wetlands of the same name. Ardenis pond on the other side suffers from eutrophication due to livestock watering and defecating in the lake.
Funding Organization / Donor:
German Government (KfW German Development Bank)
Association of WWF-Germany, WWF-Armenia, and WWF-Caucasus Programme Office
Duration: 2007 – 2011
Overall project objective is to conserve the unique biodiversity of the Javakheti-Shirak plateau in Armenia on the border to Georgia and Turkey at the same time as enhancing sustainable rural development in the northern Shirak region through establishment of the Lake Arpi National Park and implementation of a support zone programme, targeting around 20 villages.
- Establishment of the 21,179 hectare Lake Arpi National Park
- Development and partial implementation of a support zone programme for 15 communities to improve local livelihoods;
- Integrated spatial land use planning;
- Improved water management of the Lake Arpi, Akhuryan River and associated wetlands, and local water springs;
- Establishment and functioning of a Regional Advisory Council to improve the dialogue between local communities, local non-governmental organisations, regional and national authorities;
- Field inventories, surveys and assessments, with GIS data entry;
- Tourism development activities (visitor centre, billboards, information points, camp sites, etc.);
- Participatory management planning;
- National park infrastructure development;
- National park staff training;
- Facilitation of transboundary cooperation between Armenia and Gerogia.
- The project management structure is established and operationalised;
- Inventories, surveys and assessments, including the hydrological model are developed;
- Lake Arpi National Park is established and operational including protection and rehabilitation of wetlands;
- A support zone program is developed and implemented based on a land use planning approach;
- Transboundary coordination is facilitated between Armenia and Georgia.
Tel: (+374 10) 54 61 56 (ext. 14)