September 26, 2023

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Dena biosphere reserve, a significant ecosystem

TEHRAN – Dena biosphere reserve, located in the Central Zagros Mountains of Iran, is home to a vast range of plant species and several endangered and endemic mammal species.

Dena Biosphere Reserve with a general slope of more than 60 percent, where changes in temperature are most common, a fall of temperature by -25 C in winter is not far from reality. Snow is common throughout the ranges in that season and some higher peaks remain snow-covered throughout the year.

Mount Dena, with an 80 km length and 15 km average width, is situated on the boundary of the Isfahan, Kohgiluyeh-Boyerahmad, and Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari provinces of Iran.

Mount Dena has more than 40 peaks higher than 4,000 meters. With an elevation of 4,409 meters above sea level, Qash-Mastan is the highest peak in the Dena Range and in the Zagros Mountains in general. Another known peak in this range is Hose-Daal close to the city of Sisakht, 30 km to the north of Yasuj.

The region contains a globally significant ecosystem, species, and genetic biodiversity. The area is characterized by extreme topographical and climatic conditions, which have led to an eye-catching diversity of ecosystems and habitats over a small geographical area, according to the UNESCO website.

Dena is home to a vast range of plant species and several endangered and endemic mammal species. Oak species dominate the highlands, while pistachio and almond are common at lower elevations. Also, hackberry, walnut, and pear trees are scattered throughout this eco-region.

A variety of animal life, such as brown bears, eagles, wolves, various wild cats including caracals, lynxes, and leopards, and wild goat have long made their homes in the region. On the other hand, many large rivers, including the Karun, Dez, and Karkheh originate from the area, flowing into the Persian Gulf and the Oman Sea. Scenic waterfalls, pools, and lakes add beauty to the mountainous landscape.

Dena is situated on the boundary of three different provinces in the west of Iran and in 2006 the number of residents was estimated as 27,197 individuals, among which 4,070 individuals live in the northern part and 23,127 in the southern part of the reserve. Dena is under the supervision of Kohkeloyeh-Boyerahmad province.

Three different zones (Core, Buffer, Transition zone) are situated at the periphery of Sisakhat (Pataveh portion), Boyerahmad (Central portion), and Semirum (Padena portion) townships. Notably, the Dena Biosphere Reserve also served as one of the world’s earliest cultural habitats for both plant and livestock domestication as of 10,000 years ago. Till now the vast majority of people practice a nomadic lifestyle.

The cultural diversity of the local communities, including the nomad communities are manifested by their languages, traditional production activities, including herding and hunting, food products, dresses, festivals, dances and weaving, and other crafts including their knowledge about seasonal and long routes of migration for their livestock.

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