Introduction to Hyrcanian Forests
Among the natural and all-encompassing attractions nature has generously given us, forests are worthwhile, not only because of their beauty, but also as a reason of the breathing lungs of the earth. Hyrcanian Forests are one of the types of forests that have created unique landscapes, especially in Persia. These broad-leaved, summer-green forests around the world are known as Caspian Hyrcanian Mixed Cities. This unique forest massif on the southern shore of the Caspian Sea, the oldest forest of the Triassic period, is a remnant of the third geological and glacial epochs. According to geological estimates, this jungle is as old as the dinosaurs, more than 40 million years old due to climate and temperate conditions in the northern parts of Persia with very high density. The Dense trees have persisted so far. Persia shares these forests with Azerbaijan, and during the time when Siberia and Europe were devoid of any life, Hyrcanian Forests hosted animal species. That’s the reason why they became famous as live fossils and a natural museum. It is interesting to know that Hyrcanian Forests have registered as the second natural heritage of Persia after the Lut Desert.
Name of Hyrcanian Forests
Hyrcan is actually the old name of Gorgan in the Mazandaran dialect, which is known as Jorjan with Varkan. The name of Varkan is also written on the inscriptions left by the Achaemenids, which confirms the long history of this region. Hyrcanian trees are also known by other names, which include:
“The oldest forest of the world in Persia”
“A memento of the first forest on Earth”
“The survivors of the Third Geological and Ice Age”
“Living Fossil “and” Natural Museum”
The Value of Hyrcanian Forests
The importance of Hyrcanian Forests is not only in its antiquity, but also the storage of water and the prevention of floods because the vegetation of these areas prevents floods and increases the infiltration of water into the earth. So that the lack of this cover can cause many floods and damages. On the other hand, trees and forests are the most important sources of clean air production. Plants can provide healthy breathing for humans by air purification, so these forests play an important role in providing clean air to the northern regions of Persia. In addition to all these values, enjoying the appealing nature and getting rid of everyday worries are other values of Hyrcanian Forests. This magnificent nature can be used for tourism and economic prosperity of the regions.
Animal and Plant Species of Hyrcanian Forests
The Hyrcanian Forests are one of the richest ecosystems in the world, with more than 296 species of birds, about 100 mammals, and 150 native trees and shrubs. The Important mammals of the Hyrcanian Forests include the Persian cheetah, one of the largest endangered cats. Shoka, the wolf ,The boar, the brown bear, the black-headed fox, the jackal, the otter, the shark, the hedgehog, the forest mouse, and the rabbit, the wild cat, the gravedigger, and the Caspian Pony could be counted. There is a high biodiversity in Hyrcanian Forests, which is one of the most important features of these forests. There are rare, unmatched species found that it is impossible to find a sample of them elsewhere but Hyrcanian Forests.
The predominant cover of these forests includes mixed broadleaf species. The most famous native species of these forests are tall evangelical trees; evergreen, enchanting swords. Among other trees that are found in abundance in these forests, we can mention Tosca. Hornbeam, elm, oak, beech, rainforest, maple, spruce, reddish, and moist could be mentioned either. These tall, old trees, make you keep your eyes peeled as you walk through the woods. In addition to a variety of trees, rare shrubs such as blueberries, pomegranates, sagebrush, hawthorn, azalea, sackcloth, sagebrush, yew and… also stand out in these forests.
One of the unique features of the Hyrcanian Forests that separates it from other forests, is the presence of dense masses of beech trees in a wide range of latitudes that usually do not grow anywhere else in such a range. Among the bird species of this region, you can see the amazing Caspian pheasants with their long, raised tails or forest pigeons, whose bodies are like a painting. Also, it is home to a variety of woodpeckers, quail, partridges, partridges, owls, owls, eagles, hawks, vultures, eagles, and a variety of other birds, each of which contributes to the beauty of nature.
Abr (cloud) Forest of Hyrcanian Forests
The historic city of Shahroud has a variety of attractions to bring you unforgettable moments. The mysterious cloud forest with various plants, towering trees, boiling fountains, and roaring waterfalls, and has brought trees together to a tunnel of trees that have made this forest a piece of paradise. A variety of colorful animals and birds with their heartwarming sound deep in the heart of a jungle hidden among clouds a few thousand meter dense from the sea, to bring you a memorable experience in this forest.
Cloud forests are part of the Hyrcanian forests where clouds come to the forest due to the low thickness of the mountains at that point. This phenomenon occurs due to pressure differences that bring you this feeling of walking on clouds. That’s why this name was chosen for this forest. It is 40 million years old and the best time to visit this forest is from late April to late June. One of the popular pastimes of this forest is mountaineering and cycling, which has countless fans among nature lovers and brings you pleasant memories. This delightful forest with its breathtaking sunset in the middle of an ocean of clouds, the bright fire next to the camp, the nests of the birds in the corners of the forest have provided a good opportunity for photography lovers.
Nahar Khoran Jungle Park, the oldest promenade of Golestan province, with soaring trees as ancient as history, popular enough that hearing the name of Gorgan ( center of Golestan province) will remind you of this magnificent, breathtaking jungle. Due to its pleasant weather, picturesque landscape, and not very long-distance with the city has a special place among the locals. Unlike other parks, this forest was built by locals. People take refuge in its Zyarat village in the summertime for its proper weather. The facilities required for accommodation or picnics are provided for leisure. The animal cover of this area has been greatly reduced due to the uncontrolled construction of humans. The vegetation of this region is temperate Caspian and of Hyrcanian forest type, although humans have also intervened and planted non-native trees in it.
*If you are a fan of mounting and jogging, we suggest you to cross through the forest park and walk through the old, stone stairs.
Factors of Destruction of Hyrcanian Forests
The main causes of these destructions are the uncontrolled expansion of the wood and paper industries and the change of use of forests and the indiscriminate, hunting and animal species, the uncontrolled and dense grazing of livestock and the destruction of several million cubic meters for coal production in the recent past. This factor is very rare today, and construction projects such as building a dam without the necessary research that cut down several thousand trees.
Hyrcanian Forests As a World Heritage
Hyrcanian Forests share a unique biodiversity between Azerbaijan and Persia, and it was this commonality that delayed the globalization process of this unique forest for several years. These forests were finally approved by IUCN experts at the 43rd UNESCO Summit in Baku and was registered in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2019 as Persia’s second natural heritage.
Different Parts of the Hyrcanian Forests
You can access Golestan National Park, Alimestan Haraz Forest, Afratakhteh Forest, Shahroud Abr (Cloud) Forest, Arasbaran Forests, Bibi Yanlu Forest Park, Gorgan Naharkhoran Forest Park, Vaz Forest, Leopard Valley, Chalous Garden Four, Dry Forests, Rudkhan Patrol, Siah Rudbar Gilan, and Lisar Protected Area can be found in the ancient Hyrcanian Forests of Persia.
UNESCO World Heritage Criteria of Hyrcanian Forests
The Hyrcanian Forests are world-class Heritage according to the ninth UNESCO standard.
Criterion (ix) : The work that is being registered globally is a prominent example of environmental and biological processes in terrestrial evolution and development, coastal and marine ecosystems, and communities of plants and animals.
Location of Hyrcanian Forests
These forests start in the southwest of the Caspian Sea from the Hyrcanian region of the Republic of Azerbaijan and continue in Persia from near Astara to Gorgan and are located in several border provinces such as Tabriz, Ardabil, Gilan, Mazandaran, Golestan, and North Khorasan.
Where to Stay near of Hyrcanian Forests
Since Hyrcanian Forests are located in different provinces of Persia, you can choose one of these provinces of Mazandaran, Gorgan, Golestan, Ardabil, and Tabriz to stay in the forest according to your circumstances and preferences.
You have two options for staying in the Hyrcanian Forests, which include:
1) Accommodation in various ecolodges and hotels in these areas with full facilities. Camping in the woods is a fun experience if you are into camping and nature. Be sure to get help from people familiar with the area to choose a safe place to spend the night to enjoy the pristine and relaxing nature of the Hyrcanian Forests.
If you want to visit the cloud forests, you can choose Shahroud hotels to stay. By staying in Chalous, Amol, and Nowshahr hotels, you can visit these forests in Mazandaran province and Gorgan hotels are good options for your visit time in Golestan province.
The forest hut located on the outskirts of Lahijan in the Hyrcanian Forests with complete security and a special environment and suitable amenities for your stay is a special accommodation that gives you a unique view of the Hyrcanian Forests.
When to Visit Hyrcanian Forests
The best time to visit these forests is late spring and early summer when the weather is cool and the experience of nature tourism can bring your soul to life.
How to visit Hyrcanian Forests
Most of the Hyrcanian Forests are in Mazandaran province, and if you want to spend more time in the forest and have more forest areas to explore, choose Mazandaran province as your priority and then the forests. The provinces of Gilan, Gorgan, Golestan, and Ardabil, each of which has a special beauty, can be suitable destinations for your excursion in the Hyrcanian Forests and breathing fresh air along with enjoying the unique views of nature.
To get to these forests, you need a good backpack and walking shoes so that you don’t get stuck on the sidewalk. Choose light and lightweight equipment so that your speed does not slow down. Also, if you are visiting the Hyrcanian Forests for the first time, be sure to take a walk with the tour or people familiar with the environment in the forest.
How to go to Hyrcanian Forests
If you want to use your car to travel, it is easily possible to reach Sari via Haraz and Firoozkooh roads from Tehran.
If you want to see the most delightful natural landscapes of the country along the route from Tehran to Sari, railway is the best option for you. You will enjoy this rail travel from the very beginning of the road and passing through the winding routes of Alborz Mountains. Before reaching Savadkuh, the pristine and fantastic forests of this region announce the arrival there.
Dasht-e Naz Airport in Sari is always ready to serve passengers for air travel to different parts of the country.
Travel to Gorgan by plane from Tehran is possible. Tehran-Gorgan flight takes about an hour.
Private car, bus, and train
The route of Tehran-Gorgan road from Firoozkooh road is 410 km.
Traveling to Gorgan by train undoubtedly will be a long journey; but, the attractions of the railroad are so great that you will disappear watching nature.
To access Golestan province, you can use planes, trains, buses, and private cars.
The airport of this province is located in Gorgan city. You can also reach Gorgan by train and intercity buses. But if you are planning to travel to Gorgan in a private car, the best route is Firoozkooh Road, through which you will enter Sari and then Golestan Province.