The Khor Virap Sanctuary was established by Governmental decision on January 25, 2007 to protect the wetland ecosystem. Located in the eastern part of the Ararat Plain of Armenia, the area represented as a mosaic of ponds and marshes which gradually degraded into a uniform reed field, growing on salty soil. The area is surrounded by hills and is covered by wormwood semidesert.
During the period from 2017 to 2019, observations were recorded of 38 breeding and 31 migratory bird species (Aghababyan еt al. 2022). However, it was assumed that the area could host more waterbird species. Therefore, the Restoration Plan designed the area in such a way that the area could attract a wide variety of species: diving ducks, dabbling ducks, crakes, egrets and herons, cormorants, waders, and others.
These birds need safe areas for breeding, as well as appropriate food objects and foraging areas. Therefore, the design included three small ponds, each of which has a small island in the middle. The ponds were created by digging in order to use the excavated ground for construction of the islands.
From October to November 2019, the construction works were undertaken by BirdLinks Armenia, financed by CNF. As a result, we constructed a mosaic area of three wetlands, totaling 1.61 ha. Each of the ponds has a small island in the middle, and the ponds themselves are between 70 and 120 cm.
During the period from 2020 to 2021 the monitoring of breeding and migratory birds was continued using the same methods and counting points as had been used in 2017-2019. In total, 55 breeding and 61 migratory bird species were recorded (Aghababyan et al. 2022).
For 2024, CNF applied for and was awarded a grant from the climate fund of the German-based GLS Investment Management GmbH to create further ponds in the Khor Virap Sanctuary. We are excited to observe what further changes opening of new ponds may create for the birds in this area.