Gorgan University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (GUASNR), Gorgan, Iran
Wetlands as water resources have a special place in the semi-arid plateau of Iran and boundary determination is necessary for their effective conservation and conflict resolution among stakeholders that are dependent on these resources. Determination of the wetland boundaries should be commensurate with environmental features affecting on it which normally extend beyond water extent. Ecological wetland boundaries are normally affected by water extent, hydric soils, and obligate water plants that constitute a normal protocol for wetland boundary determination. Also, we add wetland dependent fauna with special emphasis on birds to these three features to get to a more ecologically integrated boundary determination. Thus, in our approach, boundary determination requires information on indicators relating to soil, hydrology, vegetation, and wetland dependent fauna. We carried out field sampling of the Alagol wetland during which we recorded hydrology, percent vegetation cover, plant species, soil parameters, and dependent/loving birds within 1000 m radius of the initial water body. The results, determined the seasonal and temporary boundaries, and finally the ecological aspects helped in better boundary determination and suggestions for an integrated protection of Alagol wetland. We also suggested a buffer for protection of other wetland birds in areas further than 1000 m from the initial boundary to make sure the resulting boundary stays afar from violations.