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The study analyses physiogeographical factors of the Zeravshan Range as a basis for environmental and habitat diversity. They provided the background for considering conditions for the functioning of juniper forest ecosystems and their role in maintaining biodiversity especially of of endemic species. The uniqueness of these ecosystems also relies on the longevity of juniper (Juniperus seravschanica Kom., J. semiglobosa Regel and J. turkestanica Kom.). These trees can live 400-600 years, or even 1300 years, and therefore are very important species in dendroindication studies. Landscapes with juniper forests are diverse in terms of species composition, which is conditioned by aspect and relief as species show different habitat requirements. On the individual Pamir-Alay and western Tian-Shan ridges juniper is an important mountain forest-forming species. Physiognomic features of the landscape are conditioned by the habitat, climate, landforms, and recently also by anthropopressure. Juniper forests play an important ecological, landscape and economic roles: they increase water resources, prevent soil erosion as well as provide a source of good quality building material and firewood. They fulfill also a very important cultural role. The ecological, environmental and the cultural importance of juniper trees makes them a distinctive and determinant feature of the landscape. Currently juniper forests across Tajikistan, including those in the Zeravshan Mts, have been significantly disrupted as a result of chaotic, uncontrolled and excessive felling. Damage done by cattle grazingintensifies erosion, especially through sheet-wash. These unfavorable processes may also lead to the disappearance of unique forms of cultural behavior of the people of Tajikistan., Junipers are at the core of national, religious and ethnic identity.
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INSTITUTE OF GEOGRAPHY AND SPATIAL ORGANIZATION
POLISH ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
www.igipz.pan.pl
www.geographiapolonica.pl
Geographia Polonica
2017, Volume 90, Issue 4, pp. 441-461
https://doi.org/10.7163/GPol.0110
ECOLOGICAL AND CULTURAL IMPORTANCE
OF JUNIPER ECOSYSTEM IN THE AREA OF ZERAVSHAN
VALLEY (TAJIKISTAN) ON THE BACKGROUND
OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITION AND ANTHROPOGENIC
HAZARDS
Oimahmad Rahmonov1 • Małgorzata Rahmonov1
Magdalena Opała-Owczarek1 • Piotr Owczarek2
Tadeusz Niedźwiedź1 • Urszula Myga-Piątek1
1 Faculty of Earth Sciences
University of Silesia in Katowice
Będzińska 60, 41-200 Sosnowiec: Poland
e-mail: oimahmad.rahmonov@us.edu.pl
2 Institute of Geography and Regional Development
University of Wroclaw
Uniwersytecki 1, 50-137 Wrocław: Poland
Abstract
The study analyses physiogeographical factors of the Zeravshan Range as a basis for environmental and
habitat diversity. They provided the background for considering conditions for the functioning of juniper for-
est ecosystems. The uniqueness of these ecosystems also relies on the longevity of Juniperus seravschanica
Kom., J. semiglobosa Regel and J. turkestanica Kom. Physiognomic features of the landscape are conditioned
by the habitat, climate, landforms, and recently also by anthropopressure. The ecological, environmental and
the cultural importance of juniper trees makes them a distinctive and determinant feature of the landscape.
Currently juniper forests across Tajikistan, including those in the Zeravshan Mts., have been significantly dis-
rupted as a result of chaotic, uncontrolled and excessive felling. The purpose of this article is to present natural
conditions of juniper forest ecosystems, the impact of anthropogenic changes on their functioning as well
as the occurrence of endemic species within them. The cultural importance of juniper in the protection of the
surrounding landscape was also analysed.
Key words
juniper forest • deforestation • mountain vegetation • environmental conditions • Zeravshan Valley •
Tajikistan
442 Oimahmad Rahmonov et al.
Geographia Polonica 2017, 90, 4, pp. 441-461
Introduction
The Zeravshan Valley, as well as the entire area
of the Republic of Tajikistan, is highly diverse
in geological, geomorphological and climatic
terms, both vertically and horizontally. This has
led to the formation of habitat mosaics with
floral landscapes characterised by a rich and
unique vegetation cover. Forests of Central
Asia are among the most valuable areas of the
Earth in terms of biodiversity; they are consid-
ered a biodiversity hotspot (Mittermeier et al.
2005). In a relatively small area (93% of Tajik-
istan is mountainous), there are over 5,000 spe-
cies of vascular plants, of which 850 occur ei-
ther solely in the territory of Tajikistan or slightly
outside its borders (Abdusalâmov 1988).
Interest in researching plant landscapes
of Tajikistan, including the Zeravshan region,
appeared at the turn of the 19th and early
20th centuries (Borŝov 1865; Lipskij 1902).
More detailed floristic studies in the area
were conducted in the later decades of the
20th century (Gončarov 1937; Ovčinnikov
1940; Grigor`ev 1944; Zakirov 1955, 1961;
Stanûkovič 1963; Sidorenko et al. 1964;
Konnov 1973; Safarov 1974; Kamelin 1979;
Kudratov 1985). The above-mentioned studies
concerned the use of natural resources and ra-
tional land use. Already back then scientist reg-
istered disruptions of natural processes in local
ecosystems. The synthesis of fragmented re-
search on nature conservation, geobotany and
pedology in the Zeravshan Range can be found
in the most important multi-author paper Flora
Tadžickoj SSR (Ovčinnikov 1957, 1963, 1968,
1975, 1978, 1981; Stanûkovič 1973; Čukavina
1984; Kočkareva 1986; Kinzikaeva 1988;
Rasulova 1991), which is generally the only
available botanical literature on Tajikistan.
Within the Zeravshan Range the best-stud-
ied area in terms of geobotany and ecology
is the catchment of the Iskanderdar. The re-
search concerned the issues of the tree-shrub
riparian communities around Lake Iskanderkul
(‘Iskandar’ means Alexander the Great, ‘kul’
means lake) and the rivers feeding and drain-
ing it (Sadikov & Darvoziev 2011). Syntaxo-
nomic classification and an update regarding
juniper forests of the area were conducted rel-
atively recently (Ismailov et al. 2010ab, 2012;
Sadikov 2012). It should be emphasised that
the first detailed paper on the flora of the Is-
kander basin was developed in 1985 (Ismailov
1985). Recently research on vegetation suc-
cession on scree slopes and plant adaptation
in such an extreme environment was initiated
(Saidov & Džuraev 2011). Moreover, relatively
recently a paper was published on human im-
pact on vegetation cover in the Kulikalon Ba-
sin and its natural consequences in the Fann
Mts. (Rahmonov et al. 2011ab, 2013, 2016).
Moreover, papers describing dendroclimatic
potential of the species of the genus Ephedra
and Juniperus were published (Opała et al.
2013, 2017).
Juniper forest ecosystems are rich in spe-
cies, including rare and endemic ones. One
of the causes of biodiversity and endemism
is associated with the presence of orographic
barriers. High mountain ranges inhibit migra-
tion of animals and spread of plants. As a re-
sult, isolated populations easily evolve into
separate species. Large corries and deep
valleys between mountain ranges show spe-
cific climatic and soil conditions, which in turn
favoured the occurrence of species not found
in other ecosystems. This is clearly evident
in the form of well-developed soil cover and
relatively thicker forests on the northern
slopes than on insolated areas where evapo-
transpiration is very high.
The purpose of this article is to present
natural conditions of juniper forest ecosystems,
the impact of anthropogenic changes on their
functioning as well as the occurrence of en-
demic species within them (the analysis of en-
demic species was based on specialist litera-
ture and field research). Moreover, the cultural
importance of juniper in the protection of the
surrounding landscape was also analysed.
Materials and methods
The materials were collected during field
research and, in case of endemic species,
were gathered from available specialist
literature. The analysed material includes
443Ecological and cultural importance of juniper ecosystem in the area of Zeravshan valley…
Geographia Polonica 2017, 90, 4, pp. 441-461
information collected in the years 2001-
2015, partly through botanical expeditions
conducted by workers of the Medical Univer-
sity in Dushanbe and a team from the Uni-
versity of Silesia. The study was conducted
in the Zeravshan Valley, from the botanical
perspective described as the Zeravshan Geo-
botanic District. The detailed observations
of endemic plant species (especially within
juniper ecosystem) in the east of the prov-
ince, mainly in the Yaghnob Valley and in the
upper part of the Zeravshan Valley, were
carried out by a team of researchers under
the direction of M. Kholbegov (Rahmonov
et al. 2013, 2014). During the field work the
occurrence of endemic species in juniper
ecosystems of this region was tested, i.e.
confirmed or not.
During investigations the sites of
endem-
ic plant species in that area were checked
against
the
10-
volume Flora Tadžickoj SSR
where the location of these species is given.
B
otanic and habitat
documentation for
140
species
from
190 included
in
this book
and
which occur
within the limits
of this
geobot-
anic
district was collected
. Also L
atin names
of species
we
re given
after the
Flora Tadžickoj
SSR
.
In terms of geobotanic regionalisation
of the Republic of Tajikistan, the studied area
belongs to the Zeravshan region located with-
in the massif of the Zeravshan Range (Fig. 1).
The valley of the Zeravshan and its catchment
show highly diverse environmental conditions,
hence the division into three Zeravshan geo-
botanic subdistricts: West (A), Central (B) and
Eastern (C).
Figure 1. I – Distribution of the main mountain ridges in Tajikistan, the arrow indicate the Zeravshan River
catchment with the Zeravshan Glacier (gray area) (after Trohimov 1968); II – Zeravshan Geobotanical
Region: A – western subregion, B – central subregion and C – eastern subregion; 1 – Zeravshan Glacier
(after Rahmonov et al. 2013, changed)
444 Oimahmad Rahmonov et al.
Geographia Polonica 2017, 90, 4, pp. 441-461
Environmental conditions
of Zeravshan valley
Relief and geology
The Zeravshan Range is located in north-west
Tajikistan; it runs from the west to the east
along the stretch of about 300 km. The range
belongs to the extensive Pamir-Alay Mts. which
form the transition zone between the Pamir
and Tian-Shan Mts. The average width of the
Zeravshan Range reaches 50 km. In the north
it is separated from the Turkestan Mts. by the
Zeravshan Valley, whereas in the south the
Yagnob Valley separates it from the Gissar
Range (Fig. 1).
Thanks to their unique landscape (emer-
ald lakes, glaciers, precipitous slopes, juniper
forests, rocky walls of mountain peaks) they
are called ‘the pearl’ of the Pamir-Alay. The
Zeravshan Range also owes its beauty to the
highly picturesque high mountain Lake Is-
kanderkul, situated in the heart of the massif
of the Fann Mts.
The Zeravshan Range was finally uplifted
during the Alpine orogeny but neo-tectonic
processes are observed. This region shows
high seismicity connected with the location
in the vicinity of the frontal Pamir thrust sys-
tem (Owczarek et al. 2017). Deposits from
the Middle Devonian and Carboniferous pre-
dominate. Northern foothills are partially built
of Lower Silurian rocks, whereas in the west-
ern part of the mountains Neogene deposits
predominate, among which the Lower Silurian
is also represented (Vinničenko & Tadžibekov
2010). On the southern slopes Cretaceous
material is occasionally observed. These rocks
are represented by crystalline schists, gran-
ites, limestones, quartzites, sandstones and
conglomerates. There are widespread cov-
ers of Quaternary deposits: Pleistocene and
Holocene.
The average height of the Zeravshan
Range is 4,110 m a.s.l., while the maximum
elevation reaches 5,489 m a.s.l. (Chimtargha
Peak, Fig. 2). The highest parts have glacial
relief with glacial cirques, partly covered
by modern glaciers, U-shaped valleys, as well
as terminal and lateral moraine ridges. Steep
slopes are covered with a thick layer of loose
sediment, where the dominant geomor-
phic processes are sliding and falling. These
Figure 2. The typical high-mountain landscape of the Fann Mountains in the surroundings of Kulikalon
depression with the Chimtargha Peak in the background; the flat area and lower parts of slopes are cov-
ered by juniper woodland (photo: O. Rahmonov)
445Ecological and cultural importance of juniper ecosystem in the area of Zeravshan valley…
Geographia Polonica 2017, 90, 4, pp. 441-461
processes are often connected with the seis-
mic activity of the Pamir region (Owczarek
et al. 2017). The lowest point occurs in the
western part of the Zeravshan Range, rising
to a height of 2,000 m a.s.l., where clear devel-
oped karst landforms are visible. Compared
to the Fann Mts. to the east, the Zeravshan
Range is much higher and represents high-
mountain relief. Its northern slopes are inten-
sively undercut by transverse valleys of the left
tributaries of the Zeravshan. The uppermost
sections of these valleys are mostly occupied
by glaciers. The southern slopes of the moun-
tains are often more uniform and much less
dissected by valley forms (Fig. 3). The ana-
lysed area is often called Kukhistan (‘country
of mountains’).
The eastern part of the Zeravshan Range
is characterised by large elevation ranges
along relatively short distances. This has
undoubtedly a significant impact on the di-
versity of landscape and its mosaic charac-
ter. High and steep ridges as well as narrow
and deep valleys are characteristic elements
of the landscape (Fig. 4). Such relief promotes
intensive sheet-wash processes that damage
soil cover down to the bedrock. The eastern
border of the region, called the Matcha node,
is occupied by the Zeravshan Glacier – the
source of the Zeravshan River (see Fig. 1).
From this mountain node the ranges of the
Zeravshan, Turkestan and Gissar branch out
towards the west. The ridges of the Zeravs-
han Range are mostly located above the
snow line, and thus there are numerous
glaciers on its northern slopes. The largest
of them are concentrated in the eastern part
of these mountains (Fig. 3).
Water conditions
Between the mountain ranges of the Zeravs-
han and Turkestan flows one of the largest
rivers in Central Asia – the Zeravshan (means
‘spreader of gold’). This river used to be one
of the longest and full-flowing right tributar-
ies of the Amu Darya (Fig. 5). In 1874 and
1921 during high water it reached the Amu
Darya. Today, the Amu Darya water is used
for agriculture through a system of canals and
other hydrological structures (Abrorov 2005).
Figure 3. The geomorphological scheme of the Zeravshan Ridge in background of Zeravshan Geobotani-
cal Region (Trohimov 1968, changed): 1– flat-topped mountains, 2 – narrow ridges, 3 – V-shaped valleys,
4 – mountain ridges transformed by nival and exaration processes, 5 – alluvial and proluvial-alluvial
surfaces, 6 – end and lateral moraines, 7 – glacial cirques and 8 – main glaciers
Figure 4. U-shaped valley filled by Quaternary
deposits; Pleistocene lateral moraine in the fore-
ground (photo: O. Rahmonov)
446 Oimahmad Rahmonov et al.
Geographia Polonica 2017, 90, 4, pp. 441-461
This is one of the causes of the ecological dis-
aster affecting the ecosystem of the Aral Sea.
However, local climate conditions do not allow
high-yield to be achieved in virtually any sec-
tors of agriculture without irrigation. The total
length of the river from the Zeravshan Glacier
to Lake Dengizkul (Uzbekistan) is 877 km, in-
cluding 316 km in Tajikistan; the surface area
of its basin is 43,000 km2. The river system
of the Zeravshan catchment is not complex,
but unevenly distributed. The river is fed
by over 200 small and large rivers; about 80
of them are over 10 km long, and 3 are over
50 km long (Abrorov & Šermatov 2010). The
most important tributaries of the Zeravshan
include: the Yagnob, Iskander Darya1, Matche,
Fan Darya, Kishtud, Moghiyon.
The Zeravshan and its main tributaries are
fed by snow and glacier meltwater (generally
in the Zeravshan catchment there are 1,272
tributaries), while seasonal rainfall does not
have a major impact on the development
of the river regime (Abrorov & Šermatov 2010).
High water is recorded between May and
1 1.3 km down the river from Lake Iskanderkul the
Zeravshan forms a 24-m waterfall. Tourists symbolically
call it the Fann Niagara. The waterfall was discovered
in 1889 by Russian explorer and naturalist V.I. Lipskij.
September. The largest discharge is recorded
in July, while the lowest in February. Most
of the Zeravshan basin has steep slopes; during
floods water reaches high velocities and car-
ries large amount of sediment in suspension.
Over its entire course, the Zeravshan fol-
lows a diverse channel (broad, narrow, deep),
depending on the geological and geomorpho-
logical conditions. Along longer stretches it re-
veals a braided character, while near the town
of Panjakent it develops an anastomosing
character – it is divided into many braids sepa-
rated by islands covered with tugay-type com-
munities. This zone is also used as rice fields.
At these stretches the river width reaches two
kilometres.
Climate conditions
Climate conditions of the Zeravshan Range
are diverse, depending on the altitude, which
reaches up to 5,489 m a.s.l. (Chimtargha
Peak, Fann Mts.). The study considers the
mean temperature and precipitation data
(Trohimov 1968; Williams & Konovalov 2008;
Opała et al. 2017), available for a long period
of time (40-60 years) from a few meteorologi-
cal stations in this region of Tajikistan.
Figure 5. The Zeravshan River on the background of Aral Sea basin (after Micklin 2007). The river ends
of its course in the sands of Kyzyl-Kum Desert not reaching the Amu Darya
447Ecological and cultural importance of juniper ecosystem in the area of Zeravshan valley…
Geographia Polonica 2017, 90, 4, pp. 441-461
Mean yearly precipitation for the discussed
area is 400-500 mm on peaks and slopes
at the altitudes of about 3,000-3,400 m a.s.l.
(418 mm on the Anzob Pass at 3,373 m a.s.l.).
In basins and deep valleys (altitudes
of 2,200-2,500 m a.s.l.), precipitation drops
to 250-300 mm (271 mm in Iskanderkul
at 2,204 m a.s.l.). Most precipitation oc-
curs in the spring season (60-70 mm in April
or May), while winter features low snowfall.
Mean temperatures reach about 15-16°C
(maximum: 25-26°C) in summer and -5 to -8°C
(minimum: -25 to -26°C) in winter. The peri-
od without ground frost or air frost reaches
90-100 days a year (Sadikov 2012). Through-
out the year, the warmest month is July (less
frequently August). The vertical gradient
of mean temperature of the warmest month
is -0.7°C/100 m, which is higher than the
yearly gradient. The temperature in July rang-
es from about 21°C at 1,700 m a.s.l. to 10°C
at 3,300 m a.s.l. near the upper line of juniper
forests (Rahmonov et al. 2017).
Soil diversity
In the Zeravshan Range four morphological
types of relief are distinguished: foothill-planar,
alpine low, alpine medium and alpine high. Each
of these types is specific and presents different
soil-forming processes. Significant land areas,
especially in the upper reaches of the Zeravs-
han, lack soil cover: the bedrock is visible directly
on the surface, and some parts are covered with
active scree slopes and glaciers. Steep mountain
slopes do not provide favourable conditions for
soil formation; snow and rubble avalanches –
a frequent phenomenon – tear off the surface
and destroy initial vegetation.
Such specific physiogeographical features
in this area are conducive to the formation
of a specific type of local soil and climatic
conditions. The soil cover is heterogeneous,
both in terms of mechanical composition and
development stage. Depending on the topog-
raphy, aspect, altitude and vegetation, soils
range from fine-grained to poorly developed
coarse-grained skeleton soils. Soil profiles are
very shallow; the thickest ones occur on loess
plains in the western part of the Zeravshan
Valley, which is dominated by the cultivation
of rice and cereals as well as vineyards and
fruit orchards.
Given great altitude ranges in the area
of the Zeravshan Geobotanic District, the fol-
lowing several different soil types have been
delimited (Kuteminskij 1960; Kuteminskij & Le-
onty`eva 1966): light brown mountain soils (un-
der juniper and steppe juniper forests), brown
mountain soils (under junipers, mixed meso-
philic forests), mountain and high-mountain
steppe soil (cushion plants, creeping juniper),
light grey earths, dark grey earths, common
grey earths, and poorly developed skeleton
soils. Significant areas are either devoid of the
soil cover completely (perennial snow patches),
or the soil cover is poorly developed (rocks, ac-
tive stone run). Solonchaks and hydrogenic soils
take an important place in the area. In natural
conditions they are found in the lower parts
of the mountains and in the Zeravshan Valley,
especially in its head reaches on the territory
of Tajikistan. They have developed under ripar-
ian communities, so-called tugay or tugai, com-
posed of a variety of species, mainly from the
genera Populus and Salix.
Due to their fertility, valley areas are mas-
sively used for agriculture. Although most
of the crops are located directly in the valley
or not far from it, they require irrigation be-
cause of high temperatures and rapid drying
of the soil. As in the majority of the area soils
have been anthropogenised; thus their chemi-
cal composition and structure do not reflect
similar units in undisturbed areas (Hagedorn
et al. 2010). Anthropopressure has also led
to the disappearance of many plant species
and decrease in total biodiversity.
Main vegetation types in the Zeravshan
Range
In the Zeravshan Geobotanic Region four al-
titudinal zones have been delimited (Fig. 6).
The first zone (1,200-2,000 m a.s.l.) occupies
salt sagebrush deserts with the dominant par-
ticipation of Artemisia tenuisecta, A. porrecta
and a number of other halophytic species.
448 Oimahmad Rahmonov et al.
Geographia Polonica 2017, 90, 4, pp. 441-461
At the altitude of 2,000-2,700 m a.s.l. (sec-
ond zone) there are patches of sagebrush
desert with juniper forests, mainly with the
participation of J. seravschanica and shrubs:
Berberis heteropoda, B. integerrima, Coto-
neaster nummularioides, Lonicera nummu-
lariifolia, L. simulatrix, Sorbus tianschanica.
In the third zone (2,700-3,400 m a.s.l.) steppe
patches of various sizes with Festuca sulcul-
cata, Artemisia dracunculus are observed.
At the altitude of 2,500-2,800 m a.s.l. there
is a transition belt with J. seravschanica and
J. semiglobosa. Above this latitude Juniperus
semiglobosa forms homogenous forests, de-
ciding the physiognomy of this high-mountain
forest (Zaprâgaev 1976). Cushion vegetation
and spiky grasslands, which dominate at the
elevation of 3,400-4,000 m a.s.l., form the last
altitudinal vegetation zone.
Within the delimited vegetation zones in the
Zeravshan Range eight basic types of ecosys-
tems are distinguished: alpine desert, alpine
meadow-steppe, medium-mountain conifer-
ous forests, medium-mountain of mesophilic
forests, medium-mountain of xerophilic sparse
forests, medium and low-mountain semi-savan-
na (savanna-like), aquatic and coastal, as well
as agroecosystems (Fig. 7). Forest ecosystems,
especially juniperous forest, are more diverse
and thus more interesting to researchers. They
show richness of plant species with a variety
of ecological requirements. All the mentioned
ecosystems are predominantly distributed
within the juniper ecosystem and are relatively
well preserved. In such phytocoenosis of the
Zeravshan Range, a huge number of rare and
endemic species have been preserved. Juniper
ecosystems, thus, play an important role in the
conservation of vegetation diversity at the ge-
netic and ecosystems level.
As has already been mentioned, the entire
area of Tajikistan, including the Zeravshan
Range, shows high floristic diversity. This diver-
sity, resulting from varied relief, microrelief, cli-
mate, microclimate and topoclimate reflecting
altitudinal zonation, has contributed to the de-
velopment of plant species specific only to this
geographical region, i.e. endemic species. The
different species are associated with a specific
type of ecosystem and specified altitude. The
diversity of endemic species within the ecosys-
tems of the Fann Mts. is shown in Figure 7.
Figure 7. The area (in %) occupied by certain types
of ecosystems in the Zeravshan valley: 1 – high
mountain desert ecosystems, 2 – high mountain
meadow and steppe ecosystems, 3 – mid-moun-
tain conifer forest ecosystems, 4 – mid-mountain
mesophyllic forest ecosystems, 5 – mid-mountain
xerophytic light forest ecosystems, 6 – mid-low-
mountain semisavanna (savannoide) ecosystems,
7 – wetland ecosystems, 8 – agroecosystems (the
names correspond to Table 1)
Figure 6. Cross-section through the Zeravshan River valley with geobotanical zones depending on eleva-
tion (on the base of topographic map)
0 5 10 15 20 25 30
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
Type of ecosystems
Area [%]
449Ecological and cultural importance of juniper ecosystem in the area of Zeravshan valley…
Geographia Polonica 2017, 90, 4, pp. 441-461
Table 1. The list of endemic plant species of Zeravshan Ridge (after Flora Tadžickoj SSR, Rahmonov et al.
2013, changed)
Families
/ species Type of
ecosystems
Altitude
m a.s.l. Subregion
Gramineae
Poa articulata Ovcz. 7 2500-3000 B
Festuca squamulosa Ovcz. 6 600-1600 B
Zerna Paulsenii (Hack.) Nevski 2 2700-3600 B
Roegneria interrupta Nevski 3 2300 -3600 A, B, C
Elytrigia setulifera Nevski 2, 3 2300-3200 B, C
Helictotrichon hissaricum (Roshev.) Henr. 2, 3 2300-3200 B, C
Stipa jagnobica Ovcz. 3 to 2600 A
S. Ovczinnikovii Roshev.5, 6 1300-1800 C
Piptatherum Fedtschenkoi Roshev. 4-6 1800-3200 B, C
*P. pamiroalaicum (Grig.) Roshev. 1, 2 2600- 4150 B, C
Liliaceae
*Merendera hissarica Regel 1, 2 3500-4000 B, C
Eremurus hissaricus Vved. 3, 4 2600-3000 C
Gagea leucantha M. Pop. et Czug. 2 to 3500 B
G. minutissima Vved. 1, 2 3500-4000 B
*G. paedophila Vved. 4, 5 1200-2400 C
Asparagus Komarovianus Vved. 5 1800-2000 A
Amaryllidaceae
Allium glaciale Vved. 2, 3 3000-3100 C
*A. darvasicum Regel 3, 4 2000-3300 B
Salicaceae
Populus tadshikistanica Kom. 4, 7, 8 500-3000 C
Betulaceae
Betula seravschanica V. Vassil. 3, 4, 7 1800-2800 B, C
B. alajica Litv. 3, 4, 7 1700-3000 B, C
B. pamirica Litv. 3, 4, 7 2300-3650 B, C
B. Regeliana V. Vassil. 3, 4, 7 2500-2800 B
Santalaceae
Thesium Gontscharovii Bobr. 3 1700-2300 B
Polygonaceae
Rheum hissaricum Losinsk. 2, 3 2000-3000 B, C
R. Fedtschenkoi Maxim. ex Regel 2 3100-3700 A
Polygonum myrtillifolium Kom. 2, 3 2900 -3600 B, C
Ranunculaceae
*Nigella bucharica Schipcz. 5, 6 520-1700 C
Delphinium propinquum Nevski 1, 2 3500-4000 B, C
D. Nevskii Zak. 2 2400-2600 A
*D. ternatum Huth. 4, 5 1200-2400 B
*D. Ovczinnikovi Kam. et Pissjauk. ex Kam. 3, 4 1200-1900 B
Aconitum zeravschanicum Steinb. 1,2 2400-3600 A, B, C
Anemone seravschanica Kom. 3, 4 1200-2000 A, B, C
450 Oimahmad Rahmonov et al.
Geographia Polonica 2017, 90, 4, pp. 441-461
Families
/ species Type of
ecosystems
Altitude
m a.s.l. Subregion
*Ranunculus baldshuanicus Ovcz. et Koczk. 3-5 750-2200 B
R. alpigenus Kom. 3, 4 2000-3300 A, B, C
R. turkestanicus Franch. 1, 2, 7 2000-3500 A, B
R. Botschantzevii Ovcz. 2 3300-3500 A
Berberidaceae
Berberis multispinosa Zapr. 1, 2 2800-3400 C
Crassulaceae
Pseudosedum condensatum Boriss. 1-3 2100-3600 B, C
P. Fedtschenkoanum Boriss. 4-6 450-2200 B
*Rosularia tadzhikistana Boriss. 1, 2 1800-4200 C
Saxifragaceae
Ribes malvifolium Pojark. 1, 2 2500-3600 C
Rosaceae
Cotoneaster zeravschanicus Pojark. 4-6 1900 -2500 A, B, C
*Potentilla pamirica Th. Wolf 1, 2 2900-4800 C
*P. Vvedenskyi Botsch. 1, 2 2900-3800 B, C
P. flabellata Regel et Schmalh. 1, 2 3000-4200 A, B, C
P. mollissima Lehm. 3, 4 1800-3200 B, C
*P. darvasica Juz. ex Botsch. 2, 3 2300-3200 A, B
Alchemilla Verae Ovcz. 2, 3, 7 to 2700 B
A. biradiata Ovcz. 2, 3, 7 2400-3000 B, C
*A. hissarica Ovcz. et Koczk. 3, 5, 7 2000-3500 B, C
A. fontinalis Juz. 2, 3, 7 2400-3200 C
*Rosa huntica Chrshan. 7 1400-3000 B, C
R. achburensis Chrshan. 4, 5 400-2200 B
R. Popovii Chrshan. 8 1600-2900 C
Cruciferae
Erysimum samarkandicum M. Pop. 3, 5 1500-2900 A, B, C
*Cardamine densiflora Gontsch. 3, 7 2700-3400 A, B
C. seravschanica Botsch. 3 to 2700 B
Pseudoclausia Olgae (Regel et Schmalh.) Botsch. 5 to 1700 A
Parrya fruticulosa Regel et Schmalh. 3, 4 2200-2900 B
*P. runcinata (Regel et Schmalh.) N. Busch 2, 3 2400-3600 B, C
*P. turkestanica (Korsh.) N. Busch 1, 2 3300-4500 B, C
*Matthiola integrifolia Kom. 3, 5, 6 900-3000 A, B, C
Iskandera hissarica N. Busch 2, 3 2600-3200 A, B
*Draba physocarpa Kom. 1, 2 2700-4300 C
D. hissarica Lipsky 1, 2 3400-3800 B, C
D. alticola Kom. 1, 2 3000-3700 B, C
Lepidium seravschanicum Ovcz. et Junuss. 3, 5 1600-2200 A, B, C
Leguminosae
*Thermopsis dolichocarpa V. Niki t. 4-6 96 0-280 0 C
Melissitus iskanderi (Vass.) Latsch. 4, 5 2000-2100 B
*Colutea hybrida Shap. 3, 5, 6 700 -2400 B
Chesneya kschtutica Rassul. et B. Sharipova 2, 3 2000-3100 B, C
451Ecological and cultural importance of juniper ecosystem in the area of Zeravshan valley…
Geographia Polonica 2017, 90, 4, pp. 441-461
Families
/ species Type of
ecosystems
Altitude
m a.s.l. Subregion
Tragacantha transoxana (Fisch.) Kuntze 5, 6 650 -1000 C
T. macrantha Boriss. 2, 3 2000-3000 B, C
*Oxytropis Lehmanni Bunge 1, 2 2300-3800 B, C
O. Michelsonii B. Fedtsch. 1-3 2300-3300 A, B
*O. immersa v. kussavliensis Abduss. subsp. nova in Addenda 1 3100-3800 C
O. lithophila Vass. 3 2400-2700 B
O. Ovczinnikovii Abduss. 2, 4 1550-3100 C
O. kuhistanica Abduss. 1, 2 2900-3800 C
O. pamiroalaica Abduss. 1, 2 2600 -3700 C
O. iskanderica B. Fedtsch. 1, 2 2500-3600 A, B
O. leptophysa Bunge 3-5 1400-2700 A, B, C
O. trichosphaera Freyn 1, 2 2500-3900 C
Ewersmannia sogdiana Ovcz. 5 1700-1800 B
Hedysarum Korshinskyanum B. Fedtsch. 5, 6 1000-1400 B
H. mogianicum B. Fedtsch. 3, 5, 6 1300-2000 A, B
Onobrychis seravschanica B. Fedtsch. 3, 4 1800-2700 C
Lathyrus mulkak Lipsky 3, 4, 6 1200-3000 B
Astragalus macropodium Lipsky 4-6 1200-3100 B, C
A. bibracteatus Ovcz. et Rassul. 2, 3 to 3050 C
A. madruschkendicus Ovcz. et Rassul. 3 to 2700 C
A. czapdarinus Ovcz. et Rassul. 3, 7 to 2500 B
A. leptophysus Vved. 3-5 1700-3000 C
A. quisqualis Bunge 1-5 850-3600 B, C
*A. acormosus N. Basil. 4, 6 1300-2880 B
*A. pauper Bunge 1-3 2400-3500 B, C
*A. pauperiformis B. Fedtsch. 3 2800-2900 A
*A. schutens is Gontsch. 2, 3 3000-3500 A
*A. Aphanassjievii Gontsch. 3, 4 2500-3300 B, C
A. indurescens Gontsch. 1, 3 2900-3000 A, B
*A. Zaprjagaevii Gontsch. 2-4 2000-3200 C
A. apiculatus Gontsch. 3, 4 2700-3100 A
A. sericeopuberulus Boriss. 2, 3 2500-3550 A, B
A. farctissimus Lipsky 3 1800-1900 A
*A. kas chkadarj ensis Gontsch. 2, 3 2900 -3200 A
A. exasperatus N. Basil. 5, 6 1600-2000 A, B
*A. nigrocalyx Slobod. 2-4 2000-3500 C
*A. roschanicus B. Fedtsch. 1-3 1800-3650 B, C
A. intarrensis Franch. 3, 5 1100-2800 A, B, C
A. longisepalus Rassul. 2, 3 2800-3100 C
A. saratagius Bunge 1-3 2000-3500 A, B, C
*A. saratagius v. artschamajani Rassul. subsp. nova in Addenda 3, 4 2200-2300 B
*A. saratagius v. sarimensis Rassul. subsp. nova in Addenda 2, 3 3000-3100 B
A. kschtutensis Rassul. 2, 3 2500-3200 A, B
A. urgutinus Lipsky 5, 6 1150-1700 B
A. polytimeticus M. Pop. 3, 4 1500-2800 B
452 Oimahmad Rahmonov et al.
Geographia Polonica 2017, 90, 4, pp. 441-461
Families
/ species Type of
ecosystems
Altitude
m a.s.l. Subregion
A. Iksanderi Lipsky 3-5 1800-2900 B, C
A. neurophyllus Franch. 4-6 1100-2000 A, B, C
A. heterotrichus Gontsch. 3-5 1100-2700 B, C
A. rumpens Meffert 3, 5, 6 900-2700 A, B
*A. melanocomus M. Pop. 3, 4 2100-2700 C
*A. semideserti Gontsch. 3, 5 1700-2100 A
A. nobilis Bunge ex B. Fedtsch. 3-5 1500 -2900 A, B, C
Linaceae
Linum macrohizum Juz. 1-4 1900-3600 B, C
Euphorbiaceae
*Andrachne Fedtschenkoi Koss. 5, 6 1200-1800 A, B, C
Euphorbia transoxana Prokh. 2-4 2300-2900 C
E. polytimetica Prokh. 1-3 2500-3900 A, B, C
Rhamnaceae
Rhamnus coriacea (Regel) Kom. 3, 5 1300-2600 A, B, C
Violaceae
Viola alaica Vved. 3, 4 2000-2800 B, C
*V. majchurensis Pissjauk. 3, 4 2200-2800 B
Elaeagnus
Elaeagnus songarica Bernh. ex Schlecht. 4, 8 1400-1500 A, B
Umbellifereae
Seseli seravschanicum M. Pimen. et Sdobn. 1-3 2400-3600 A, B
Conioselinum schugnanicum B. Fedtsch. 1-4 2000-4100 B, C
Ferula Linczevskii Korov. 3-5 1900-2800 B
F. karategina Lipsky ex Korov. 1-4 1800-3500 C
*Semenovia bucharica (Schischk.) Mandel. 1-4 2100-3600 B, C
Lepechiniella sarawschanica (Lipsky) M. Pop. 1-3 2500-4200 B, C
L. minuta (Lipsky) M. Pop. 3 2900 -3000 C
Lappula rupicola Zak. 3 2800-3000 A
*Eritrichium subjacquemontii M. Pop. 1 3800-4000 B
Rochelia claviculata M. Pop. et Zak. 3, 4 2200-2900 B, C
Limoniaceae
Acantholimon parviflorum Regel 1-5 1200-3900 B, C
A. Komarovii Czerniak. ex Lincz 2-4 2500-3400 B, C
A. velutinum Czerniak. ex Lincz. 1-4 2300-4600 B
A. anzobicum Lintch. 1-3 2400-3600 C
*Limonium Komarovii Ik.-Gal. ex Linch. et Czuk. 3-6 1800-2800 B, C
Eremolimon Fajzievii (Zak. ex Lincz.) Lincz. 4-6 to 1300 B
Labiatae
Scutellaria picta Juz. 3 2100-2800 B
*S. haesitabunda Juz. 2, 3 2500-3000 B, C
S. poëcilantha Nevski et Juz. 3, 4 1400-2300 B, C
S. rubromaculata Juz. et Vved. 3, 4 2000-2200 A, B
S. orbicularis Bunge 4, 5 1200-2500 A, B, C
Nepeta tytthantha Pojark. 3, 4 1800-2000 B
453Ecological and cultural importance of juniper ecosystem in the area of Zeravshan valley…
Geographia Polonica 2017, 90, 4, pp. 441-461
Families
/ species Type of
ecosystems
Altitude
m a.s.l. Subregion
N. maussarifi Lipsky 3, 4, 7 2100-3000 B
Eremostachys sarawschanica Regel 2-4 2200-3200 B, C
E. mogianica M. Pop. 4-6 1000-1500 A, B
Lagochilus kschtutensis Knorr. 2-6 1800-2900 A, B, C
Salvia Komarovii Pobed. 4, 5 2000-2100 A, B
Perovskia virgata Kudr. 2, 3 1800 -2900 C
Rubiaceae
*Asperula pamirica Pobed. 2-6 1200-3800 B, C
A. Czukaviniae Pahom. et Karim. 3, 4 1800-2600 B, C
Galium Vassilczenkoi Pobed. 1-5 2000-3600 B, C
Valerianaceae
Valeriana Kamelinii B. Sharipova 2, 3 2550-3200 B
Campanulaceae
*Campanula Lehmanniana v. integerrima Bunge 3-6 400-2000 A, B
C. hissarica R. Kam. 3, 4 1800 -2500 B
Asyneuma baldshuanicum (O. Fedtsch.) Fed. 3-6 750-2600 A, B, C
A. debile Fed. 3-6 1100-2100 B
A. attenuatum (Franch.) Bornm. 2-4 1400-3400 A, B, C
Cryptocodon monocephalus (Trautv.) Fed. 3, 4 1600-1700 B
Compositae
*Anaphali s latifol ia Kinz. et Vainberg 3, 4 1800 -2800 C
Inula glauca C. Winkl. 4-6 1500 -2500 B, C
Cousinia Fedtschenkoana Bornm. 1-3 2500-3500 C
C. ulotoma Bornm. 5, 6 1500-1800 B
*C. alpestris (Bornm.) Juz. 2-4 2400-2600 C
C. ferruginea Kult. 1-4 1800-3500 C
C. princeps Franch. 3, 4, 6 1600-3000 A, B, C
C. sarawschanica C. Winkl. 1, 3, 4 2000 -3500 A
C. splendida C. Winkl. 2-4 2300-3300 B, C
*C. stephanophora C. Winkl. 1-4 1700-4000 C
*Jur inea Komarovii Iljin 1, 2, 4 2300-3900 B, C
Cirsium Rassulovii B. Sharipova 3, 7 2300-2500 B, C
Onopordum seravschanicum Tamamsch. 2, 3 2700-3000 C
*Scorzonera Albertoregelia C. Winkl. 3, 4 2400-3000 B
Tara xacum Kovalevskiae Vainberg 1-3 2300-3800 B
*T. pseudobrevirostre Vainberg 1, 2 2800-4000 A, B, C
T. seravschanicum Schischk. 3, 4 2500-3000 B
T. Vassilczenkoi Schischk. 1-3 3000-3700 A, C
T. anzobicum Schischk. ex Vainberg 2-4 1800-3400 C
Type of ecosystems: 1 – high mountain desert ecosystems, 2 – high mountain meadow and steppe eco-
systems, 3 – mid-mountain conifer forest ecosystems, 4 – mid-mountain mesophyllic forest ecosystems,
5 – mid-mountain xerophytic light forest ecosystems, 6 – mid-low-mountain semisavanna (savannoide)
ecosystems, 7 – wetland ecosystems, 8 – agroecosystems. Geobotanical regions: A – Western Zeravshan,
B – Central Zeravshan, C – Eastern Zeravshan; * – species not confirmed by authors.
454 Oimahmad Rahmonov et al.
Geographia Polonica 2017, 90, 4, pp. 441-461
In the Zeravshan Range and in its geobot-
anic region there are 190 species of endemic
vascular flora (Abdusalâmov 1988, Tab. 1).
They form 25 families and 84 genera. The
most numerous endemic families include
Leguminoseae (56), Compositeae (19), Cru-
cifereae (13), Rosaceae (13), Labiateae (12),
Ranunculaceae (11), Gramineae (10), Umbel-
lifereae (10), Liliaceae (6), Limoniaceae (6),
while the most numerous endemic genera
are: Astragalus, Oxytropis, Cousina, Poten-
tilla, Scutellaria, Taraxacum, Delphinium,
Ranunculus, Acontholimon, Nepeta. Among
unidentified endemic species those from the
families Leguminoseae (17), Compositeae (6),
Crucifereae (5), Rosaceae (5), Ranunculaceae
(4), Liliaceae (3) and Umbelifereae predomi-
nate (2). In terms of life forms, endemic plants
of that area are dominated by perennial spe-
cies (156), plants and shrubs (20), biennial (7),
trees (6), annual species (1). All these species
show specific features of adaptations to life
in extreme mountain conditions (Safarov
2013ab).
The largest number of endemic species
occurs between the altitudes of 1,400 and
4,000 m a.s.l. The representation of these spe-
cies within the Zeravshan Geobotanic Region
are shown in Table 1. Naturally, the endemic
species also grow above and below the sug-
gested altitude ranges (Rahmonov et al. 2014).
The analysis shows that endemic species are
most common in the phytocoenoses involving
juniper species, so it can be said that juniper
forests represent a potential habitat for these
taxa. Disruption of ecological processes within
juniper forests may negatively affect the num-
ber of endemic species.
Ecological and cultural role
of juniper forest ecosystems
for Central Asian societies
Juniper species are long-living trees, whose
age may reach over 1,000 years (Muhamedŝin
& Talancev 1982; Ismailov 1974; Opała et al.
2017). In their annual growth rings they record
changes in climatic conditions, especially fluc-
tuations in precipitation and temperature, and
therefore constitute a unique natural archive.
Trees are witnesses to natural changes taking
place over hundreds of years, or even a mil-
lennium (Opała et al. 2017; Owczarek et al.
2017).
The importance of juniper forests relies
on the fact that, on the one hand, they pro-
tect water resources and inhibit erosion, while
on the other they are a source of good quality
building material and firewood. Currently juni-
per forests of Tajikistan, including those in the
Zeravshan Range, are significantly distorted
as a result of chaotic, uncontrolled and exces-
sive felling, as well as cattle grazing. It should
be noted that all forests of Tajikistan are the
first category ecosystems: they play an impor-
tant role in nature protection in general, and
especially in soil protection. Therefore, forest
felling is categorically prohibited. However,
what has been commonly observed in recent
times due to lack of fuel, is intense tree felling,
clearly visible in the Kulikalon Basin and in oth-
er parts of the Zeravshan Valley. This, in turn,
negatively affects the processes of forests re-
newal by enhancing surface runoff on slopes
as well as soil degradation, thus preventing
the growth of young trees.
Protective and anti-erosion role of woody
juniper specimens is conditioned by a strong
root system. Most of the juniper specimens
create large and extensive root systems ex-
tending far from the crown zone, which largely
prevents erosion and the formation of rubble-
mud runs. In the presence of several juniper
biogroups their root systems get intertwined.
Studies have shown that in dry habitats roots
are long and branched. The roots themselves
create habitats for other herbaceous species,
which also partially inhibits erosion by creat-
ing ground cover.
An important anti-erosion role is also
played by juniper forest floor, and is condi-
tioned by its thickness and physicochemical
properties. The bulk amount of organic fall
are scaly leaves, the decomposition of which
is very slow. The biological cycle is very weak,
and at high altitudes significantly slower
or even inhibited. The space under juniper
crowns serves as a kind of filtering window,
455Ecological and cultural importance of juniper ecosystem in the area of Zeravshan valley…
Geographia Polonica 2017, 90, 4, pp. 441-461
stopping water from snow and glacier melt-
ing, as well as halting torrential rains, thus
preventing the erosion of surface soil hori-
zons. Even heavy rains (10-20 mm · h-1) are
easily absorbed by the litter and introduced
into intrasoil circulation. Juniper litter is ca-
pable of storing moisture for a long period
of time. This moisture stored in juniper forests
has a significant impact on the surrounding
plant and soil ecosystems. Hence, the destruc-
tion of juniper forests leads to the deteriora-
tion of regimes of mountain rivers and more
frequent instances of mud-rubble flows that
destroy landscapes and human settlements
located downhill. Protecting steep slopes
by juniper ecosystems is largely conditioned
by the improvement of the physical proper-
ties and water conditions in the soil not only
in dense stand areas, but also in light forests.
Today, the most natural juniper forest frag-
ments (Fig. 8) are located in the eastern and
central parts of the Zeravshan Geobotanic
Region at an altitude of 3,000 m a.s.l.
Numerous useful juniper features have
drawn human attention for a long time. Soft-
ness, flexibility, balsamic fragrance, resistance
to rotting, and nice wood texture – are fea-
tures that make it useful in various areas, such
as woodturning, music industry, construction
and others. In the pharmaceutical and spirit
industry, leaves, young branches and cone
berries are still widely used (they contain up
to 5% essential oils). In the mountains juniper
is the only building material, and in the Middle
Ages mining, pottery and forges were based
mainly on juniper wood as fuel material. Ju-
niper beams support well-known wooden ob-
jects in Bukhara and Samarkand, proving the
past presence of powerful forms of woody juni-
per in the area. Currently such specimens can
be found, among others, by Lake Iskanderkul,
in Kulikalon and in the Archamajdan Val-
ley. These are remote areas located in high
mountains.
Throughout Central Asia, a religious motif
of nature protection is observed in the case
of individual trees, regardless of species.
In the Zeravshan Valley also juniper plays
such a role. This is primarily Juniperus seravs-
chanica as it grows at a relatively low altitude.
In these areas individual specimens of mag-
nificent trees (fewer and fewer of them) evoke
respect in every person. Preservation of such
specimen is seen as God’s will or is related
to the existence of a mazor, i.e. a sacred place.
In the culture of the majority of Asians (and
not only) mazor is a place of repentance and
reflection. People make pilgrimages to such
places to leave their sins, prayers and thanks.
Such places are also in other part of the World
Figure 8. Natural juniper forest in the southern slopes of Zeravshan Mountains (photo: O. Rahmonov)
456 Oimahmad Rahmonov et al.
Geographia Polonica 2017, 90, 4, pp. 441-461
Figure 9. Individual of Juniperus seravschanica, known as Bursi Boboi Mullo Mirzo – object of religious
worship: A – lower part of trunk (photo: M. Opała-Owczarek), B – died and dried peak of tree (photo:
O. Rahmonov)
Figure 10. Juniperus seravschanica known as Bursi Taburga – object of religious worship (photo: O. Rah-
monov)
A B
457Ecological and cultural importance of juniper ecosystem in the area of Zeravshan valley…
Geographia Polonica 2017, 90, 4, pp. 441-461
(Benvenisti 2000) and the landscape have dif-
ferent typology (Myga-Piątek 2012)
In Artuch (town in the central part of the
Zeravshan Range) three mazors related to Ju-
niperus seravschanica have been preserved.
One consists of several specimens of the Zer-
avshan juniper known as juniper of Bursi Boboi
Mullo Mirzo, which includes his family tomb.
One of the junipers has a shelf-like bulge,
which is also wart-like. Three stones are on this
shelf at all times. The local population believes
that this juniper cures warts, so a person with
a wart can come and touch (grease) the warts
with this stone, then discard the stone, and
replace it with a new stone (Fig. 9AB).
The second object is called Bursi Taburga
(Fig. 10). It is a single tree within a large val-
ley. This juniper tree is called ‘the tree of wish-
es and happiness’. Being under it you need
to tear a piece of your own clothes, say a wish
and promise, and then tie the piece of cloth
on a branch. If the dream gets fulfilled, you
also need to fulfill the promise. There are many
such trees, also around Lake Iskanderkul.
The third object is located at the foot of the
next mazor called Home of Sheich, where
water flows from the heart of the mountains.
The surroundings of this fracture-karst spring
are overgrown with lush high-mountain veg-
etation, representing a natural ecological
system. Before World War II a small terrace
was built there of dry old junipers of the local
origin (Fig. 11).
Felling trees in these places, according
to people’s belief, may result in a variety
of unfortunate events, including serious ill-
nesses in people who have done so. Peo-
ple may frequent such places only with the
matters of God. They are considered pure
and spiritually enriching. The age of these
sacred trees was determined dendrochrono-
logically to be 500 years (Boboi Mullo Mirzo),
325 years (Bursi Taburga) and 150 years
(Chudzi Shajchchona).
Human impact on destabilisation
of juniper ecosystems
Good accessibility, warm and sunny summer,
fresh mountain air saturated with resinous
smell of junipers made this area extremely
popular among mountain lovers in the Soviet
Figure 11. The high-mountain sacred temple built of juniper beams; note the Marco Polo sheep horns –
near-threatened species in the entire Pamirs region (photo: O. Rahmonov)
458 Oimahmad Rahmonov et al.
Geographia Polonica 2017, 90, 4, pp. 441-461
times. In the last ten years, after the political
stabilisation, this region has become an object
of interest of international mountaineering
organisations, supporters of extreme sports
and traditional mountain tourists. Unregu-
lated and unsupervised tourism has become
an additional and serious anthropopressure
factor in the region, which remains traditional
in terms of the economic activity of the local
population. This landscape is very sensitive.
As a result, the functioning of the entire alpine
ecosystem may get disturbed. Besides tour-
ism, juniper forests (open low density forests)
of the area are currently exposed to large-
scale uncontrolled felling. Several dozen years
ago juniper trees (predominantly Juniperus
seravschanica and J. semiglobosa) were
mainly cut down by the inhabitants of small
mountainous settlements, so-called kishlaks,
in little quantities and exclusively for their own
use. The inhabitants of kishlaks made their liv-
ing on shepherding. In the Soviet times a sig-
nificant amount of food was brought into the
settlements. So there existed some kind of eco-
system equilibrium and the human activity did
not constitute a significant threat to nature.
Despite poor accessibility, mountain eco-
systems in Central Asia have been the sub-
ject of strong anthropopressure over the
millennia. The Silk Route, joining China and
India with the Mediterranean Sea Region,
has been well known for over 2,000 years.
The most characteristic human activity in the
Alay mountain system (also in the Fann Mts.)
has been mass-deforestation of juniper for-
ests for combustible, timber and industrial
needs. Deforestation has contributed to the
development of soil erosion and significant ir-
reversible environmental changes over large
areas. Today only small fragments of the in-
vestigated area are covered by natural for-
ests (with Juniperus seravschanica Kom. and
J. turkestanica Kom.), and most of the terri-
tory is under the negative influence of ecologi-
cal and landscape changes. Juniper forests
theoretically belongs to sensitive ecosystems
because of extreme environmental conditions
with strict parameters of ecological niches
and biological productivity. So, a relatively
weak external influence can lead to the deg-
radation of Juniperus communities, and thus
the natural environment. On the other hand,
these ecosystems have functioned for centu-
ries and have survived to modern times under
the influence of both climate change and hu-
man impacts. Contemporary forest degrada-
tion is associated with increased human im-
pact over recent decades.
The year 2002 was proclaimed by the UN
as the International Year of Mountains, the
motto of which “We are all mountain people”
testifies to the importance of the problem.
The United Nations University monitors cur-
rent scientific research concerning mountain
ecosystems in different regions of the world.
Central Asia is represented in this program
only by the Eastern Pamir, where some inves-
tigation was carried out over 10 years ago
(Jansky et al. 2002).
Summary
The mountain environment of the Zeravshan
Range (e.g. the Fann Mts.), as every alpine
environment, is exceptionally sensitive to the
influence of external factors, both natural and
anthropogenic. Besides other factors charac-
teristic for alpine ecosystems, the biota and
soils of the Zeravshan Range experience arid
conditions (mountainous semi-desert). Ecosys-
tems of juniper forests develop very slowly, and
trees take hundreds of years to grow, reach-
ing sometimes the age of a thousand years.
These forests, due to their biomass, plant litter,
shadow and other ecological conditions, are
a crucial link in the system of bio-geocenotic
connections in the study area. Cutting down
the forests is therefore a trigger mechanism
to destruction of the entire ecosystem.
The Zeravshan region and its unique eco-
systems may be considered as a natural labo-
ratory for different types of scientific research,
because of varied environmental conditions
and natural processes, which can be observed
there. The occurrence of centuries-old living
trees (Juniperus seravschanica, J. semiglo-
bosa) and dead wood provides opportunities
for reconstruction of climatic conditions and
459Ecological and cultural importance of juniper ecosystem in the area of Zeravshan valley…
Geographia Polonica 2017, 90, 4, pp. 441-461
natural processes of the past using dendro-
chronological analyses.
From a scientific standpoint, such objects
are of great importance in the reconstruc-
tion of the natural environment. The presence
of these old trees testifies to the fact that
in the past the surrounding areas were cov-
ered with such tree stands and ecological sys-
tems. It also testifies humans are able to de-
stroy high mountain ecosystems in a short
time. These habitats are sensitive in nature,
and their regeneration takes a long time.
In a cultural sense, these objects influence
human character. High level of endemism
in this area is related to natural conditions:
geological structure, the presence of huge
mountain ranges, as well as climate, particu-
larly microclimate. They favour the formation
of the mosaic, isolated various biotopes, and
the hindrance of migration of species over oro-
graphic barriers.
Acknowledgments
The authors wish to thank local people from
Artuch District (especially Boboi Mulo Mirzo
for accessing of sacred trees for the study) and
Rahmonov family for their hospitality and as-
sistance for everything. Part of research was
supported by the Polish National Science Cen-
tre (Grant No. 380 013/09/B/ST10/00634).
Editors’ note:
Unless otherwise stated, the sources of tables and
figures are the authors’, on the basis of their own
research.
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© Oimahmad Rahmonov • Małgorzata Rahmonov
Magdalena Opała-Owczarek • Piotr Owczarek
Tadeusz Niedźwiedź • Urszula Myga-Piątek
© Geographia Polonica
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http://rcin.org.pl
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Changes in forest range are caused by human activity in many regions of the world. The aim of this paper is an attempt to determine the impact of pastoral and forest management on changes in forest cover and their fragmentation in the Silesian Beskids (southern Poland) in 1848–2015. Historical maps and landscape metrics were used to study changes in forest cover. Using a digital map of forests, analyses of the distribution of forest communities, site types and their condition were conducted. Since 1848 the forest area has increased by 11.8%, while the area of forest core zones has increased by 16.2%, accompanied by a 4.5% reduction in the forest’s internal bu�er zone. From the mid-nineteenth century, the forest range has been systematically growing from 82.1 to 93.9% because of the pastureland abandonment and forest regeneration, despite temporary logging resulting in forest fragmentation. Minor changes in core area index (CAI) from 80.41 to 87.55 indicate that pastoral economy did not result in considerable fragmentation of forests. The impact of forest management was greater as the sites characterised by natural condition occupy only 28% of the forest land and anthropogenically transformed ones dominate occupying over 50%. An artificial spruce monoculture was died-o� and large felling areas were created at the beginning of the twenty-first century covering almost 40% of the study area.
... those of Llaus as and Nogu e (2012), Popelkov a and Mulkov a (2018), and Pukowiec-Kurda and Myga-Piątek (2017), they are not universal for all regions, or even for all climatic zones. Each analysed area is located in a specific region that has been subject to centuries of human activity, which, in places, has led to the disintegration of biocoenotic systems within the immediate surroundings (Rahmonov et al. 2017a(Rahmonov et al. , 2017b). In connection with this landscape diversity, a new approach to landscape analysis in highly urbanised areas, conventionally known as landscape profiling, has been presented. ...
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Rahmonov O., Majgier L., Andrejczuk W., Banaszek J., Karkosz D., Parusel T., Szymczyk A.: Landscape diversity and biodiversity of Fann Mountains (Tajikistan). Ekologia (Bratislava), Vol. 32, No. 4, p. 388-395, 2013. The aim of study is a presentation of main vegetation landscape diversity and biodiversity in case of endemic species in the Fann Mountains area, in horizontal and vertical approach. In terms of biodiversity, the high-mountain ecosystems of Central Asia include the most valuable areas in the world called as hotspot, and also are exposed to intense human pressure causing the destruction of habitats. Vegetation landscapes of Fann Mountains are very diverse because of high-mountain character of this area, local climatic conditions, topography and habitats. That differentiation leads up to biodiversity and formation of unique plant landscapes and endemic species. The vegetation landscapes in altitude order are represented by forbs meadow steppe, thymes, swamp, broad-leaf forest, juniper forests, flood-plain small-leaved forest, tugai, light deciduous forest, pistachio, forbs wormwood, almond, rare vegetation with cushion-shaped species, wormwood eurotia, steppe, thorny grasses with shrub-steppe, rocks and taluses with rare vegetation alpine zones. High level of endemism in Fann Mountains is connected to natural conditions such as geological structure, relief, high-mountain ranges and climate conditions. This fact has an influence on forming mosaic biotops, often isolated by orographic barriers.
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Samples from Mongolian Ephedra (Ephedra equisetina Bunge) was collected in the Zaravshan Mountains (the Fann Mountains), Tajikistan. The wood of Ephedra is ring-porous with well-defined growth rings. Annual ring widths were measured, individual series were first cross-dated and then averaged as a standard chronology. Correlations were calculated between the standard ring-width chronology and monthly climate data recorded in the weather station Iskanderkul. Dendroclimatological analysis showed that July temperature is the growth limiting factor of this species. Our study has shown high dendrochronological potential of Ephedra.
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http://www.krajobraz.kulturowy.us.edu.pl/publikacje.artykuly/22.cmentarze/1.myga,%20plit.pdf
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Millennial long tree-ring records are crucial for better understanding temperature and hydroclimatic variability over the globe. Juniper is one of particularly long-lived species, which can provide more than a thousand-year record, especially in Central Asia. However, there is a lack of dendrochronological series from the Pamir Mountains. Here we report the first 1010-year (AD 1005–2014) juniper tree-ring chronology from the mountain ranges of north-western Tajikistan, the western Pamir-Alay. We present the potential of Juniperus semiglobosa and Juniperus seravshanica in developing millennia-long records. We sampled three study sites at the elevations from 2200 to 3500 m. In general, the climate-growth analyses show that radial growth of the Himalayan pencil juniper is positively correlated with the winter precipitation and spring temperature. At some sites tree rings were also positively correlated with summer temperature. Our findings demonstrate the importance of developing the tree-ring data network for the Pamir-Alay and its potential for reconstruction of hydroclimatic variability over the last thousand years in this region.