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Protected Areas of Armenia

The Khosrov Reserve

As far back as the 4-th century, approximately 1700 years ago, the Armenian king Khosrov II Kotack declared the southern slopes of the Gueghama mountains a restricted area. He "planted a forest" and made it a hunting-ground for the palace.

Over the centuries the Khosrov Reserve has been mentioned in the history of Armenia as a hunting-ground for the nobility and animals were brought and bred in the Reserve from various regions, especially Persia. In 1958 the Khosrov forest, consisting of 8 separate lots, was officially declared a reserve and its borders were widened to create a single parcel of land (in 1992).

The Khosrov Forest Reserve is situated south-east of Yerevan, at the foot of the Gueghama volcanic mountain, in the basins of the Azat and Vedi rivers. The Reserve is situated 1400-2250 meters above sea-level, and extends over an area of 29196 hectares, 9000 of which is covered with forests.

The importance of the Khosrov Forest extends beyond the local margins and plays a significant role in the entire ecology of the region. It is the only Caucasian reserve with such diversity of climatic areas and plant types.

Khosrov Reserve has very complicated relief with amazing landscapes. As everywhere in Armenia the results of tectonic activities - fractures, steeps, etc. - can be seen. Atmogenic processes, hot climate and water create numerous fantastic monuments - figures, pyramids, towers, quaint cliffs etc.

The reserve has rich flora. Within its borders grow more than 1800 kinds of plants (more than half of species growing in Armenia), 156 of which are considered rare, endangered and disappearing. Numerous rare and disappearing species are mentioned in the Red Book and grow only here. It is the only Caucasian Reserve of mountain xerophytes, where semi-deserts, various phryganoid formations, different types of arid thin forests, tragacanthys steppes and others.

Fauna of the reserve is also rich. Invertebrate animals and in particular insects are presented by unique diversity of specific composition. There are amphibians, 7 types of fish, and over 30 reptiles living there such as the Levantine viper, the Montpellier snake, the dotted dwarf and the collared dwarp snakes, the Pleskes racerunner, the five-streaked and the three-lined lizards, the golden grass and the Snaider's skinks, the eastern spadefoot and others.

In the Khosrov Reserve 40 kinds of mammals, 18 of which are registered in the Armenian Red Book, including the Primary-Asian leopard, the Bezoarian goat, wild sheep (the Armenian mouflon), the Transcaucasian gray bear, the lynx, and more.

Among 67 kinds of birds registered in the Armenian Red Book, in the territory of the Reserve there are 16 nesting birds of prey, including Egyptian, Black and Griffon Vultures, Lammergeier, Golden and Lesser Spotted Eagles and Northern Goshawk.

The Khosrov Reserve includes numerous natural attractions: huge "rock organs", mysterious caves, shady canyons and alpine meadows, ancient oaks and unique flowers. Numerous historical monuments, cave dwellings, early medieval monasteries, khachkars (cross-stones), churches and fortresses have been preserved. The pearl of medieval architecture - the cave monastery of Geghard (Spearhead in Armenian) is also situated here. The acoustics of the church hall, where the Spearhead of Golgotha was kept for centuries, will impress even the most demanding audience and is perfect for classical music recordings.

Armenian reverence for their historic monuments has allowed this forest to remain almost untouched for almost 17 centuries.

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Photos ©® by Hrach Ghazaryan
Yerevan, Armenia

  © Armenian Ecotourism Association
Eco-Agrotourism in South Caucasus, 2002