With an age of up to 50 million years, the Hyrcanian Forests of Azerbaijan and Iran not only survived the last ice ages. They also date from a time when there was still an ocean in the interior of Asia and the Himalayas did not exceed the dimensions of the Ore Mountains. Many areas of these primeval forests and their unique flora remain untouched to this day. They are refuges for mammal species such as Persian leopards, brown bears and lynxes, and they are home to a variety of breeding and migratory birds.
Part of the Iranian portion of this biodiversity hotspot became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019. The Succow Foundation supported the Iranian authorities for many years with its expertise in the development and nomination. Subsequently, the Foundation supported the countries of Azerbaijan and Iran to include additional areas of the forests in the existing World Heritage Site.
The Foundation's current follow-up project emphasises the need for a stronger partnership with local communities based on their cultural background and traditions. A variety of cultures have settled in the Hyrcanian Forests throughout history and are closely linked to the landscape. However, these communities need support to conserve and sustainably use the resources. Therefore, the project will help partner communities to better understand their ecosystem and strengthen their role in protecting and using these forests.
The project also aims to raise awareness among the Iranian population about the importance of the successful inscription of the Hyrcanian Forests as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, thus involving them in the protection of these globally unique natural landscapes.
In addition to all the activities carried out within the framework of this project, an Instagram channel has been set up by the local administration of Gilan Province to spread news and knowledge about the Hyrcanian Forests in Iran.
To the project website: https://www.succow-stiftung.de/en/protected-areas-biosphere/azerbaijan-hyrkanian-forests