A Country with the Highest Biodiversity at the Edge of Europe

Azerbaijan is roughly the size of Austria. Nevertheless, this small country on the southeastern border of Europe boasts the highest biodiversity on our continent. It contains 4,300 species of plants alone, including 270 endemic species. Its large mammal fauna still shows a mostly natural composition, and the unusually rich avifauna includes numerous globally threatened species. We feel compelled to preserve this unique heritage for all of humanity and to carry it on into the future with a successful conservation programme.


Located in the eastern sub-Mediterranean climate region between the Greater and Lesser Caucasus and the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan offers its visitors high alpine, deciduous forest, steppe and semi-desert ecosystems as well as coastal, riparian and marsh habitats in a surprisingly natural state. The Michael Succow Foundation began its work in the country in 1999. Since then, it has supervised a government programme for the establishment of large-scale, modern national parks.


To date, eight national parks (Shirvan, Ag-Göl, Ordubad, Hyrkan, Absheron, Altiaghaj, Goy Göl and Kyzyl Agash) have been established by the parliament and through presidential decree. Between 10 and 15 percent of the country’s total area have become internationally certified large-scale reserves.


Since gaining independence, no other country among the transformational countries of the Caucasus region and Central Asia has accomplished as much as Azerbaijan in regard to nature conservation. We are elated to have contributed to this success and to continue to do so, but it also presents an ongoing challenge for our foundation.


In close co-operation with Azerbaijani scientists, we have developed a comprehensive analysis of the country’s conservation potential as a planning basis for additional nature reserves. The report can be viewed here.


Aimed especially at international visitors with an interest in ornithology, we have published a nature guide. In addition, we supplied the Azerbaijani Ministry of Ecology with a comprehensive, illustrated documentation of the animals and plants in Azerbaijan’s nature reserves. We also created a series of posters about the new national parks and nature reserves. Two documentaries show the country’s natural diversity and explain our local conservation efforts. We conducted a study on eco-tourism on the basis of the new nature reserves and were able to draw up management plans for selected areas. And finally, we completed a comprehensive analysis for potential trans-boundary reserves with Azerbaijan’s neighbouring countries.