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Zarafshan Reserve in Samarkand

Zarafshan Reserve, Samarkand

Zarafshan Reserve is a national park in Uzbekistan, located on the right bank of the Zarafshan River from the Pervomaisky dam on the border with Tajikistan to the height of Chupon Ota, 8 km from Samarkand. The territory of the park consists of two cluster sections.

Zarafshan Reserve was created to collect a site of foothill tugais selected in Uzbekistan, and was administered by the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Forestry.

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In 1948, a narrow strip of the Zarafshan valley along the banks of the Zarafshan River was transferred to the Samarkand forestry for the collection of bank protection and protective plantings. In the period from 1948 to 1956, an unsuccessful attempt was made to reconstruct the tugai vegetation, consisting of Dzhungarian willow, narrow-leaved oleaster, sea buckthorn and turanga. Pennsylvania ash, white locust, honey locust and walnut were planted on an area of 400 hectares. The planted plants soon returned to their wild state, and only 10 hectares remained of artificial plantations. In 1958, tugai plots on an area of 2435 hectares were declared a reserve, the main task was to preserve the endemic subspecies of the Zarafshan stage. From 1961 to 1975, tugai vegetation was cut down on an area of 104 hectares for forest nurseries, orchards and crops.

The reserve was created by the Decree of the Council of Ministers of the Uzbek SSR dated May 11, 1975 No. 264 "On the organization of the Zarafshan State Reserve in the Samarkand region." The initial estimated area is 2518 ha. After agreements and demarcations, by the end of 1976, the size of the protected area was reduced to 2060 hectares. In 1979, the area expanded again to 2,359.6 ha.

The reserve is characterized by valley introzonal landscapes, the leading role in the formation of which is played by floodplain processes that differentiate the territory into treeless-pebbly in the upper reaches and tugai in the lower reaches of the river.

The reserve is located in the east of the Zarafshan valley between the Zarafshan and Turkestan ranges. The valley was formed due to the synclinal trough, the bottom of which is filled with Quaternary deposits brought by the river from the Pamir-Alay. The relief of the territory of the reserve is flat. The macrorelief shows a slope along the course of the Zarafshan River and towards its channel with a height difference from 900 to 620 m. Tertiary deposits are represented by red clays, which are overlain by pebble deposits closer to the river. Downstream of the river, layers of sand and silt are included in the pebble strata.

In the fauna of the reserve, 88 species of insects, 26 species of mollusks were found. Vertebrates are represented by 245 localities. Amphibians (2 species) and reptiles (10 species) appear rather weakly. Common locales are lake frog, Asian naked eye, fast foot-and-mouth disease, steppe turtle, water snake, patterned snake, sand boa, and arrow snake. The reserve has a well-studied bird fauna, numbering 207 species. Turkestan tuvik, kestrel, white-winged woodpecker, splyuska, southern nightingale, Zarafshan pheasant are found in forest biotopes. Bittern, moorhen, white-tailed lapwing, brownish nightjar, kingfisher live in busy meadow and swamp biotopes. The diversity of mammals is 24 species.

The reserve is characterized by porcupine, mole voles, tamarisk gerbil, Afghan and Transcaspian voles. On the banks of the rivers, introduced muskrat is numerous. Of the predators, there are many jackals, a corsac fox and a subspecies of the common fox - a karaganka. Rarely there are steppe and reed cats, weasel and dressing. The Red Book of Uzbekistan includes the molluscs Colletopterum cyreum sogdianum and Corbicula fluminalis, the fish Barbus capito conocephalus, Sabanejewia aurata aralensis and 26 bird species, including the endemic Zarafshan pheasant Phasianus colchicus zarafschanicus. In the 1970s and 2000s, human rights activists carried out reintroductions on the territory of the Bukhara reindeer herding reserve.

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