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Ecological problems in Nagorno-Karabakh

The absence of information about the current ecological situation in the occupied lands creates great obstacles. Armenians hide the real ecological state of these areas and, therefore, it is possible to express only general views on the matter. It’s well-known that all the natural elements of the region closely interact with each other and changes in one of the elements will transfer to others. The districts Kelbadjar, Lachyn, Qubadly, Zengilan, Djebrayil, Fizuli and Aghdam surrounding the occupied Nagorny Karabakh are currently out of control and are not cultivated therefore causing great ecological disaster.

Almost all of the rivers that originate in Armenia enter the Kur and Araz rivers of Azerbaijan and the Caspian Sea. The rivers Okhchu, Zengi, Araz, Agstafa , that have been flowing from our countries for years, pollute waters of the rivers of Azerbaijan. The wastes of the Gafan copper fields thrown into rivers joining the Bokhchuchay and the utilized waters of Armenia enter Azerbaijan by the rivers. It’s also known that the radioactive wastes utilized at the station are buried in the occupied lands of Azerbaijan.

Heavy military technique, moving across the occupied lands, large quantity of exploded canisters and buried mines caused a great damage to the soils and plants of these regions. No one is concerned with the environmental protection in these neglected regions: forests are cut and brought to the neighbor countries, the rare plants and animals are terminated. The destruction of the canals that originate in the occupied lands struck a hard blow on the agriculture of the foothill regions in Azerbaijan. As can be seen, the occupation caused damage to the nature of Azerbaijan along with the loss of people.

Armenians, aware of their temporal staying in these lands, use the natural reserves, minerals of the regions barbarously. Mineral waters, different technical materials and reserves are widely assimilated by Armenians.

As the illegal regime of Nagorny Karabakh is not responsible for the environmental protection in the occupied lands before any international organization the ecological state is deteriorating in the said region. Therefore, after the lands are released from the occupation it’s necessary to demand the repayment of the great damage caused by the occupants for the improvement of the ecological situation.

The reserves which are under occupation are shown below. The reserve regime has been eliminated there: (according to the first report of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources.

The Beshitchay state reserve

The Beshitchay state reserve was established in the Zangelan district by the decree of the Azerbaijani government of July 4, 1974. It is located in the south-west in the Beshitchay valley. The reserve aims to protect the landscape complex, especially the rare plane tree forests. It covers the area of 107 hectares and extends to 15 kilometers and in some places to 150-200 meters. The reserve is surrounded by the forests of Armenia. Sparse woods account for 14% of 79.4% of the total are of woodlands, while the area free of forests-for 6.5%. The area covered with forests is mainly mountainous and it reaches a height of 600-800 meters. The climatic conditions are favorable for restoration and development of the plane forests. The annual number of sun hours totals 2200-2500, the average annual temperature is 1° in January and 25° in July.

The annual level of precipitations totals 600 mm, the snow cover reaches the level of 10-30 cm in some places-70-80 cm. The relative humidity makes up 60-70%.

The Beshitchay river extends to 44 kilometers and covers the area of 354 km2. It originates from the Zangezur mountains and flows into the Araz.

The plane forests account for 100 hectares of the total area of the state reserve of Beshitchay. There are also the mixed plane-tree woodlands which comprise the Greek walnut-tree, mulberry, willow tree, poplar, haw, dog-rose, brimstone, Jerusalem thorn, etc. The average age of the plane trees of the reserve equals 165 years, the average height is 35 meters and the average diameter totals 1 meter, there are also such trees the age of which equals 1200-1500 years, height-50 meters, diameter-4 meters. The tree reserves of the forest are 190 m3 of the total 16200 m3, and the annual growth of forests reaches 1.22 m3 out of the total 1 hectare. A number of researchers regard them as the survivals of ancient forests. According to A.A.Grossheym, some of them consider the forests to be the remnants of the natural plane tree forests widely spread in the river valleys of the south-western Transcaucasia.

The plane-trees are multiplied by seeds and young growth in the Beshitchay forests. The plane trees that were generated from young growth accounted for 80%, while those from seeds only for 20%. One of the greatest plane-trees of the reserve is 1200 years of age, 53 meters in height and 4 meters in diameter. Over 185 young growths appeared from its root bole. These young growths also resemble the giant trees as the eldest of them are 100-150 years of age with 40 meters in height.

Our people always highly appreciated the plane-trees and considered them to be the shah trees of the plant kingdom.

Likewise birch tree is the symbol of the plant kingdom of Russia, the plane-tree is also considered the symbol of the plant kingdom of Azerbaijan and its people regards this tree with favor. We are fully right to do that. The plane-tree is as magnificent as our pride and as ancient as our history. They are the charms and the pride of our nature.

Unfortunately, our wealth has been ruined by Armenian occupants since 1993; the forests are inflicted reprisals and are used in furniture production.

The Garagol State Reserve

The Garagol state reserve was established by the order of November 17, 1987 of the Ministries’ Council of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Garagol state reserve is located at a height of 2658 meters above sea level on the border of Lachyn and Gorush districts. The reserve covers the area of 240 hectares. It includes the Garagol lake water area and the area of 64 hectares 100 in width along the shore of the lake.

The Garagol is surrounded by the Damirdash and small Ishighly mountain (3452) in the north-west on the north of the great Ishyghly mountain (3548 meters) in the source of the Agoglan river, which is the branch if the Hakari river, in the south part of the Karabakh volcanic mountains at a height of 2658 meters above sea level and by the moraine bloc in the east and Djanqutaran mountain in the north. The lake is a relict water source resembling the crater of an extinct volcano. Stratigraphically, the Garagol region lies among the pliosen aged rocks.

The lake extends to 1950 meters, its maximum width is 1250 meters and the length of its coastline is 5500 meters, the depth-7.8 meters and the area of the basin is 13 km2. The water volume in the lake is 10 million m3. The limpidity of the lake water is 4.6 meters. The ground of the lake nearing the shore is composed of stones of different size. The size of the stones declines in the direction to the center and the central part of the lake ground is composed of small sediments.

It is covered with ice beginning from the second half of October to late April. The thickness of ice reaches 50 sm at a distance of 20-25 meters from the shore to the center. The reserve accounts for 102 plant and animal species that fall into 68 types and 27 families.

As the lake was isolated from other water sources and its water was very pure and healing, the people of Azerbaijan regarded is as the holy place.

The establishment of cattle farms on the Armenian side of the lake in 1964, the utilization of its water for the irrigating of the sawing areas of the Goruz region through the construction of powerful pumping stations caused the pollution of the lake and the decline in its water level. The protests of Lachyn inhabitants against such attitude of Armenians restricted their activity. The intensive utilization of the water of the uncontrolled lake may currently lead to the unpreventable negative consequences.

The state game reserve of Lachyn

The state game reserve of Lachyn was established in the Lachyn district in November of 1961. The game reserve aimed to protect the animals and birds populating this region.

The game reserve is inhabited by roe deer, mountain goat, wild boar, bear, and such birds as Turaj, partridge and others. The game reserve covers an area of 21.4 hectares that makes up 0.25% of the territory of the Republic and 8.8% of all reserves of the country. Woodlands account for 34.5% or 7369 hectares, Alpine meadows-for 6.8% or 1448, Sub-alpine meadows-for 34.8% or 7400 hectares, pastures-for 20% or 4257 hectares, rocks-for 4% or 862 hectares and specially designed lands -for 34 hectares.

It has the landscape typical of that of the middle and high mountain areas.

The highest alp Gyrkhgyz (2825 meters) is sharply indented by the deep valleys of the Salva, Pidjanis, Qorchu and other rivers. The cold climate of dry winters is typical of the game reserve. According to the types of the plants the region is divided into the zone of Iberian oak mountain forests (1000-1700 meters), high mountain forests of oriental oak (1700-2200 meters), sub-alpine (2200-2500 meters) and alpine (2500- 2800 meters) meadows. The forests mainly consist of hornbeam, lime-tree, birch and other trees, the forests of the hornbeam dominance are quite rear (8.1%), the mountain forests of oak, hornbeam and birch also occupy small area due to the pasturing that is widely spread there.

It is also characterized with the predominance of the relatively humid mezofil meadows of the dry slopes of Subalpine zone and different meadows of the Alpine zone and weakly developed Alpite herb carpet.

The primitive, scarce, mountain-meadow, typical, carbon, brown, rot-carbon mountain-meadow, typical and brown mountain-meadow soils are spread in the reserve.

The mountain and meadow zones as well as the mountain zones are subject to a greater influence by the industrial activity of people compared with forests.

At the same time, favorable conditions exist for the settlement of a number of animal and bird species in the region. They settle here in quite sufficient number.

According to the checking of 1989, the number of mountain goats settled in the region totaled 96, boar-360, roe deer-320, bear-110, wolf, badger and other animals also settled there and the number of settled peasants equaled 200, partridge-1500.

The enumeration of March 1991 showed that the number of animals and birds was reduced by Armenians (as is known, one part of the reserve is located on the territory of Nagorny Karabakh and Armenians use the conflict for hunting animals and birds. Thus the number of animals and birds is stated in the table below.

Names of animals and birds 1989 1991 Reduction
1 Boar 360 270 90
2 Roe deer 320 265 55
3 Bear 110 55 55
4 Mountain goat 96 76 20
5 Pheasant 200 200
6 Partridge 1500 1100 400

The most valuable red oak is found in the Hadjysamly forest of the reserve. French people constructed a road by destroying of the Gyrkhgyz mountain in Khankendi for utilization of the said oak in the times of Tsarist government. Yet they were not able to transport materials due to the establishment of the Soviet Union. The materials received from the tree were used for the production of valuable furniture and in storage of cognac. The tree is found only in the said reserve in the territory of Azerbaijan.

The said trees and other forests are terminated by Armenians barbarously.

The Qubadly reserve

The state game reserve of Gubadly was established on the territory of the Qubadly and Lachyn districts under the jurisdiction of the state reserve of Beshitchay in June of 1996. The reserve covers the south part of the Lachyn region and the north part of Qubadly and is composed of the mountain-steppe region. The reserve aims to protect the animal kingdom of the region, especially the roe deer, wild boar, pheasant and other animals and birds. The reserve covers an area of 20 thousand hectares and accounts for 8.2% of the country’s game reserves. The reserve is characterized by forest, bush and forest-steppe areas.

The region covers the areas above the lower mountain ones. The temperate climate with dry winter is typical of the reserve. The average annual temperature of the region reaches 12-13° the level of precipitation equals 550-600 mm, the evaporation-750-800 mm. The average temperature equals 0.6° in January and 23° in July.

The area mainly comprises red oak and hornbeam. At the same time, the juniper, haw, dog-rose and blackberry are also widely spread in the region.

The ecological factors of the region created conditions for the normal existence of animals and birds. The enumeration conducted before the occupation of the region showed that the reserve accounts for 101 wild boars, 21 brown bear, 35 roe deer, 420 hares, 25 wolves, 310 jackal, 75 badgers. The partridge is the most widely spread among the birds of the region. Pheasants, turaj, quail and dove are the permanent inhabitants of the reserve.

The reserve has been under Armenian occupation for nearly nine years and Armenians use the wealth barbarously.

The Arazboyu game reserve

The Arazboyu game reserve was established on the bank of the Araz river on the Iran border in the Zangilan district under the jurisdiction of the Beshitchay state reserve in 1993. It is 50 kilometers in length, 50-100 meters in width (in some places it reaches 200-400 meters, and it covers an area of 5 thousand hectares).

The game reserve aims to protect the flora and fauna existing in the region. It is characterized by a climate with warm summers and temperate winters. The average annual temperature equals 20-25° (1° in January and 35-38° in June-July). It is also notable for fertile clayey soils. The region comprises trees which need large quantities of water. The climate and fertile soil create normal conditions for the growth and development of plants.

According to the enumeration of animals, the reserve accounts for nearly 300 wild boars, 7 gray bears,

350 foxes, 300 jackals, 15 wolves, 70 badgers, 12 roe deer. Turaj, pheasants, partridges, quail and greenhead ducks are the permanent inhabitants of the reserve.

The Dashalty game reserve

The Dashalty game reserve was established for the protection of rare natural complexes of Shusha and Askeran in 1998. It covers an area of 450 hectares. The reserve which was occupied in 1992 was completely destroyed.

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