The Beshitchay state reserve was established in the Zangelan district by the decree of the Azerbaijani government of July 4, 1974. It is located in the south-west in the Beshitchay valley. The reserve aims to protect the landscape complex, especially the rare plane tree forests. It covers the area of 107 hectares and extends to 15 kilometers and in some places to 150-200 meters. The reserve is surrounded by the forests of Armenia. Sparse woods account for 14% of 79.4% of the total are of woodlands, while the area free of forests-for 6.5%. The area covered with forests is mainly mountainous and it reaches a height of 600-800 meters. The climatic conditions are favorable for restoration and development of the plane forests. The annual number of sun hours totals 2200-2500, the average annual temperature is 1° in January and 25° in July.
The annual level of precipitations totals 600 mm, the snow cover reaches the level of 10-30 cm in some places-70-80 cm. The relative humidity makes up 60-70%.
The Beshitchay river extends to 44 kilometers and covers the area of 354 km2. It originates from the Zangezur mountains and flows into the Araz.
The plane forests account for 100 hectares of the total area of the state reserve of Beshitchay. There are also the mixed plane-tree woodlands which comprise the Greek walnut-tree, mulberry, willow tree, poplar, haw, dog-rose, brimstone, Jerusalem thorn, etc. The average age of the plane trees of the reserve equals 165 years, the average height is 35 meters and the average diameter totals 1 meter, there are also such trees the age of which equals 1200-1500 years, height-50 meters, diameter-4 meters. The tree reserves of the forest are 190 m3 of the total 16200 m3, and the annual growth of forests reaches 1.22 m3 out of the total 1 hectare. A number of researchers regard them as the survivals of ancient forests. According to A.A.Grossheym, some of them consider the forests to be the remnants of the natural plane tree forests widely spread in the river valleys of the south-western Transcaucasia.
The plane-trees are multiplied by seeds and young growth in the Beshitchay forests. The plane trees that were generated from young growth accounted for 80%, while those from seeds only for 20%. One of the greatest plane-trees of the reserve is 1200 years of age, 53 meters in height and 4 meters in diameter. Over 185 young growths appeared from its root bole. These young growths also resemble the giant trees as the eldest of them are 100-150 years of age with 40 meters in height.
Our people always highly appreciated the plane-trees and considered them to be the shah trees of the plant kingdom.
Likewise birch tree is the symbol of the plant kingdom of Russia, the plane-tree is also considered the symbol of the plant kingdom of Azerbaijan and its people regards this tree with favor. We are fully right to do that. The plane-tree is as magnificent as our pride and as ancient as our history. They are the charms and the pride of our nature.
Unfortunately, our wealth has been ruined by Armenian occupants since 1993; the forests are inflicted reprisals and are used in furniture production.
Department of Economic and Social Geography of BSU