Location: Lake Parishan and Dasht-e-Arjan are situated in the Province of Fars, in the Zagros mountains, 40 - 80 km west of Shiraz and 15 - 25 km south of Kazerun.
Importance: The wetland of Dasht-e-Arjan is an outstanding example of a freshwater wetland, characteristic of the highlands of western Iran. Lake Parishan is a good example of a brackish to saline wetland, characteristic for the same highlands. They support five species of threatened birds: Pelecanus crispus, Marmaronetta angustirostris, Aythya nyroca, Oxyura leucocephala and Aquila heliaca. Both wetlands support a very diverse flora and fauna, and thus maintain the genetic and ecological diversity of the region. In winter, the lakes hold over 20,000 waterfowl. They also support over 1% of the regional wintering populations of Pelecanus onocrotalus, Phoenicopterus ruber, 11 species of ducks (Anatidae), Fulica atra, Grus grus and Larus ridibundus. In breeding season large breeding colonies of herons (Ardeidae) and ibises (Threskiornithidae) can be found at the lakes, as well as over 1% of the regional populations for Plegadis falcinellus and Platalea leucorodia.
Dasht-e-Arjan and Lake Parishan are two very different wetlands situated only 15 km apart. Dasht-e-Arjan is a largely seasonal, shallow freshwater lake with extensive reedbeds. The wetland varies widely in size from year to year depending on rainfall, but two large springs on the western side maintain some permanent marsh throughout the year. The surrounding flats are usually covered by terrestrial grasses or remain as bare baked mud, but in wet years sedges predominate. Lake Parishan is a shallow, brackish to saline lake in the Zagros foothills. It is surrounded by marshes with halophytic vegetation. It is fed by a number of permanent springs and several seasonal watercourses. The salinity varies widely according to the size of the lake. During the dry years of the early 1970s, the lake was brackish to saline, and marsh vegetation was confined to the western and eastern ends of the lake (near freshwater inflow). There were large areas of bare saltflats in the southwest bay. Throughout much of the 1980s and 1990s however, water levels have remained high and the water is now almost fresh. There are extensive reedbeds in many parts of the lake.
Biological/Ecological notes: Dasht-e-Arjan is a eutrophic lake. The marshes around it comprise extensive areas of reeds Phragmites australis and reedmace Typha sp. with fringing areas of rush Juncus spp. and other aquatic plants. Lake Parishan is an oligotrophic lake surrounded by eutrophic marshes. It also supports extensive beds of reeds, as well as halophytic vegetation like Salsola, Kochia, Camphorosma and Halocnemum. Large areas of the semi-arid steppe around Lake Parishan have been converted to wheat fields. Nearby mountainsides are still covered with forests of oak, while the lower slopes are partially covered with steppe forest of almonds, hawthorn and hackberry. In much of the area, the shrub-like "Arjan" tree Amygdalus sp. is conspicuous. Both Lake Parishan and Dasht-e-Arjan are extremely important for waterfowl of a wide variety of species. Marbled teal Marmaronetta angustirostris breeds at Lake Parishan when conditions are suitable, and large numbers winter at the wetlands. The ferruginous duck Aythya nyroca occurs in small numbers all year round, and several pairs breed at Lake Parishan. The numbers of most other duck and coot Fulica atra have been decreasing recently, presumably because of increased disturbance by fishermen in motorised boats. However, improved agriculture to the south of the lake now provides better feeding habitat for greylag gooses Anser anser and crane Grus grus. Water rail Rallus aquaticus, purple swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio and Baillon's crake Porzana pusilla breed in the marshes of Dasht-e-Arjan. Wintering raptors include white-tailed eagle Haliaeetus albicilla, marsh harrier Circus aeruginosus, imperial eagle Aquila heliaca, saker Falco cherrug and barbary falcon Falco pelegrinoides. The great range of habitats within the protected area supports almost the full range of species typical for the montane steppe, pistachio-almond forest, oak forest and wetland systems of the central and southern Zagros mountains, as well as some species more typical of the Gulf coastal wetlands. Forty-four species of mammals have been recorded in the protected area (which is larger than the Ramsar site).
Hydrological/Physical notes: Dasht-e-Arjan lies enclosed in a basin. It is unusual in that it drains out through a group of swallow-holes at its southeast corner. The bottom consists of alluvial mud. Lake Parishan lies enclosed in a drainage basin of about 29,000 ha in a broad valley between Zagros ranges. The lake has a muddy bottom. The physiography of the region comprises limestones that form spectacular escarpments, generally aligned as parallel ridges enclosing broad valleys with oak woodland.
Human Uses: The area is state-owned. Only a few activities have been recorded at the site. They are subsistence fishing, reed-cutting and extensive grazing by domestic livestock. The Ornithology Unit of the Department of the Environment has carried out annual mid-winter censuses since 1967. There are plans to build a visitors centre. This site is renowned for its spectacular scenery. In the surrounding area there are a few small settlements with orchards and gardens, some wheat cultivation and other crops.
Conservation Measures: A national park of 65,750 ha was established in 1972, but at the end of the 1970s after the revolution it was downgraded to a Protected Area of 52,800 ha. The area of the original national park was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in June 1976.There is a game guard station on a peninsula overlooking the western part of Lake Parishan. At both lakes hunting has been prohibited since 1973. The Ramsar Advisory Mission that visited the lakes in 1992 made several recommendations. The most important are to demarcate the borders of the site clearly with signs, and to prohibit any further drainage activities at lake Parishan.
Adverse Factors: Lake Parishan is under considerable threat from various sources, while Dasht-e-Arjan remains in reasonably good condition. Some 20 hectares of marsh at the extreme northwest corner of Lake Parishan were drained for agriculture about 20 years ago. Elsewhere around this lake, wet meadows have been replaced by cultivated fields. A small area of fishponds was established on the plains to the west of the lake in the early 1980s, and it is reported that 3 species of carp have been introduced to the lake. There has been a considerable increase in fishing activities, and the widespread use of outboard motor boats instead of traditional reedboats has resulted in disturbance to the waterfowl populations. Poaching remains a problem, as well as the accidental killing of waterfowl in fishing nets. At Dasht-e-Arjan poaching is also a problem. Two sets of high-tension power lines that cross the lake are dangerous to birds and are spoiling the beautiful scenery of the lake. One of the lines has not been in use since it was constructed in the late 1970s.