Golestan National Park is the oldest of all nature reserves in Iran. Its importance as a World Biosphere Reserve was recognised in 1976, when it was listed in UNESCO’s register. The largest of Iran’s natural reserves, its 155,000 hectares stretches southwards from the most easterly corner of the Caspian Sea towards the central plateau, taking in the eastern side of the Alborz mountains.
In the north-western sector, the park is densely covered in broadleaf forests, due mainly to the humidity of the Caspian Sea being trapped by the Alborz range. Beyond the range and to the south and east, the terrain transforms to open savannah and semi-arid landscape as it touches the north eastern corner of the central desert. This remarkable array of climatic zones and ecosystems afforded to a single national park, makes for a rich and diverse collection of flora and fauna.
The park has some 69 species of mammals; 150 of birds; 54 of reptiles and amphibians. These include Persian leopard, brown bear, wolf, jackal, red fox, the very rare Turkmen fox, wild cat, wild boar, Caspian red deer, goitered gazelle, urial sheep, Persian ibex, golden and steppe eagles, lammergeiers (vultures), songbirds, partridges and pheasants.
The variety of plants is equally impressive with about 1,366 species, including ancient junipers and Persian ironwood.
The park diversity in flora and fauna and its varied terrain and climatic zones offer nature watching opportunities in all seasons. Spring offers the wild floral displays accompanied by the warbling of songbirds, summer time brings the flight of butterflies and the amusing bumbling of young animals. The magnificent colours of autumn are unforgettable and the march of wild boars in the fresh snow of winter is a sight to behold.