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world's largest lake - the Caspian Sea is situated within the vast
continental depression settled over bordering areas of a single
Azerbaijan has a total of nearly 250 lakes. Most of them are small, while Hadjigabul, Sarysu, Masazyr, Djandargol and others are relatively large. The lakes of the middle and high mountain areas (Goygol and Maralgol of the Kurekchay Basin, Major and Minor Alagoller of the Shamkir River Basin) are extremely aesthetically pleasing. The lakes of Azerbaijan have erosion-glacial, erosion-river, tectonic and abrasive origins. There is a number of standing and salt relict lakes in the Absheron peninsula. In the summer, most of the lakes dry up and become saline. Mountain lakes are used for the purposes of cattle watering, irrigation, fishing (Hadjikabul, Sarysu, Aggol and others), while the salt water lakes of the Absheron peninsula are used for the production of chemical agents as well as for medical treatment. The lakes of the upland stream of rivers: the Bababat group of lakes, Ganlygol (the Nakhchivan River Basin), Goygol (the Shemkir River Basin) and others have turned into water reservoirs. They supply additional volumes of water to rivers in the summertime.
State Natural Reserves
Name: Basut-Chay State Reserve
Year of foundation: 1974
Area (hectare): 107
Location: Within the territory of Zangilan administrative district, Basut-Chay valley.
Description: The Basut-Chay State Reserve was established for the protection of a unique plan-tree grove. In October 1980, the area of the reserve was reduced by 10 hectares. It is consisting of Quercus iberica and Caucasian hornbeam, while on the hilly plateau of the left bank, forest of Celtic caucasica and Indian Juniper (Juniperus polycarpos), Pistacia and others are developed. Platan trees have an average age of 170 years; however, there are some real giant trees, which are up to 1,200-1,500 years old. The height of these trees is 50 m with diameter of up to 4 m. The main protected object is the unique plane-tree grove, which is the biggest in the world. Five settlements were located around the reserve, inhabitants of which traditionally considered this plane-tree grove as their private plots.
Name: Gara-Yaz State Reserve
Year of foundation: 1978
Area (hectare): 9,658
Location: Within the territory of Gazakh administrative district, on the bank of the River Kura in the Agstafa forestry.
Description: The Gara-Yaz State Reserve for the protection and restoration of the Kura tugay forests. The Gara-Yaz reserve is in the western part of Azerbaijan. Its territory covers the flood lands of the River Kura and the Gara-Yaz Lowland on the left bank of the River Kura. In the region where the reserve is situated, the tugay forest and steppe lowland landscapes are typical. In the past, a continuous line of tugay forest extended along the middle and lower reaches of the River Kura, which was surrounded by forest to an extent of 600 km. The territory of the reserve is part of the quaternary accumulative lowland, sloping slightly to the River Kura. Here the climate is that of moderate warm semi-desert and arid steppe, for which a warm and dry summer and moderate winter are typical. The main protected objects are the biggest tract of tugay forests of the middle reaches of the River Kura and the rare and endangered ecosystems of tugay. Along the river, shrubbery of willow, hawthorn, barberry, elaeagnus and others grow.
Name: Gara-Gel State Reserve
Year of foundation: 1987
Area (hectare): 240
Location: Within the territory of Lachin administrative district, on the border with Goruss district of Armenian Republic.
THE ECOLOGICAL SITUATION
The rapid development of all spheres of economics and human activity has led to an increasingly negative impact on the environment, including the inefficient usage of natural resources. As can be seen in many other countries, Azerbaijan is interested in finding solutions to the problems regarding environmental protection and rational utilization of natural resources. In support of Azerbaijan's environmental protection goals, a number of important laws, legal documents and state programs, all of which conform to European law requirements, have been developed and approved in order to improve the ecological situation in the country.
These measures have been undertaken within the framework of the corresponding state programs to solve the urgent ecological problems at the very foundation of development principles.
The Republic of Azerbaijan has a very rich flora. There are more than 4,500 species of higher plants here. The flora of Azerbaijan is much richer in the number of species than the flora of the other republics of the South Caucasus. Sixty-six per cent of the species growing in the whole Caucasus can be found in Azerbaijan.
The richness of Azerbaijan's flora and the variety of its vegetation results from the variety and richness of its physical-geographic and natural-historic conditions and from its compound history influenced by the remote floristic regions.
Relict genera of the tertiary period can be frequently found in all the zones of Azerbaijan, especially in Talysh. They are the iron tree (Parrotia persica), the Lenkoran acacia (Albizzia julibrissin), the basket oak (Quercus castaneifolia), the Caucasian persimmon (Diospyrus lotus), the evergreen shrub of Ruscus hyrcana, the box tree (Buxus hyrcana), etc. There are 240 endemic species of plants in Azerbaijan.
In the flora of Azerbaijan there are representatives of all the types of floristic areas, e.g. ancient wood, boreal, plain, xerophytic, desert, Caucasian and accidental. The representatives of the ancient wood type are most widely spread in the region of Talysh, and the boreal type is spread in the high mountains of the Minor and Great Caucasus and a little in the lower areas. Meanwhile, the xerophytic, Caucasian, plain and desert types are spread on the lowlands, foothills, the Steppe Plateau and, most of all, on the Kura-Araz lowland. The accidental type of floristic areas is represented inconsiderably. In the Kura-Araz, Near Caspian and other lowlands there are many lakes, pools and bogs rich in vegetation.