The Nakhchivan ecological zone combines the physical-geographical regions of the Middle Araks subregion of the front Asian plateau.
The Sharur-Ordubad region occupies the left side of the Araks river and extends along the foothills. Its relief increases to 600-1300m of absolute height. The main forms of relief are: cones of drift, river terraces and alluvial plains. The climate of the region is represented by the climate of cold semi-deserts and dry steppes with a dry summer. The annual average air temperature is 14íC. The absolute minimum is-32íC. The absolute maximum air temperature is + 43oC. The sum of average daily temperatures over 10íC is 4400oC, the evaporation deficiency during a year makes up 1000mm, the precipitation amount is no more than 300mm. The number of days with hot dry winds is maximum in the Republic-70. The dominating winds are northern and the north-eastern winds are transit only. Soils are mainly sierozems and meadow-sierozems, along the Araks river valley they are alluvial-meadow carbonate. The vegetation is of the semi-desert type (wormwood, Salsola, small bushes). Vine-growing, grain-growing, cattle-breeding are developed in the north-west and
gardening, vine-growing, silk-worm breeding, cattle breeding, flower-growing-in the south-east.
The Kungut-Kapiji region occupies the mountainous territory of Nakhchivan. Its relief increases up to 1300-3900m. The major part of the territory is formed of volcano genic and volcano genic-sedimentary deposits. The territory has deposits of copper, sulphur and other natural resources. The territory between the Nakhchivanchay and Gilaychay river basins is rich with mineral springs with various chemical compositions. Among them there are such famous springs as Badamli, Sirab, Vaykhir and others, that were widely used in the Republic and outside its borders prior to the military conflict over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. The region is characterized by two types of climate: cold with a dry summer and the cold climate of the high mountains. The first type covers the whole mountainous territory and the latter-the narrow line of the near peak areas of the Zangezur range (3200-3900m). The annual average temperature here varies from OoC and lower (in high mountain areas) an 14oC (in the lower part of the middle-mountain area). The absolute maximum temperature from the low-mountain area to the near peak areas decreases from 30 to 22íC, which is associated with climate inversion. The annual precipitation is
1200mm. In the high-mountain areas up to 7 days with hail and 45 days with thun-derstorm are observed during a year. The rivers of Nakhchivan are shallow and mud-flow bearing. The main flow occurs during the period of April-June. The development of topsoil is in strict accor-dance with the vertical distribution of zones. The mountain-chestnut soils with plateau-xerophite-phrygoide vegetation and post-timber meadows and meadow steppes are spread in the low-mountain areas and in the low part of the middle-mountain areas; mountain-timber brown typical and alkali soils with high mountain Subalpine meadows and meadow
steppes are spread in the middle mountain areas. In the high-mountain area mountain-meadow turf soils with high-mountain alpine meadows are developed. In some places separate forest blades dominated with Araks beeches (in the basins of the Nakhchivanchay and Alinjachay rivers) have been preserved. Cattle-breeding, grain-growing, tobacco-growing, gardening and vine-growing are developed in the region.
The Nakhchivan ecological zone according to its reproductive capacity of oxygen has the lowest index-0.7 million tons/year, and the index of atmospheric oxygen reproductivity is 1.4, which implies the minimum biological productivity of plant communities. The low productivity of the landscapes is mainly associated with the deficiency of water, because the zone has a fresh water flow of about 7 million m3/year. Electric power consumption in the territory is low. The Nakhchivan industry is oriented to the processing of agricultural production (fruit and light industry), which is represented by 2 canneries, 8 enterprises on vine-processing, meat/milk integrated works, tobacco fermentation plant and a bread-baking plant. At the same time, there is a developed construction industry, which is mainly oriented to local raw materials.
The main branch of the Republic is agriculture, which is based on the irrigated agriculture. At present agricultural lands make up 147417 hectares, of them 23299 hectares are arable lands, 7813 hectares-long-term plantations (orchards, vine-yards), 126567 hectares lie fallow, 2683 hectares-hayfields, 87053 hectares-pastures, 55456 hectares-lands of irrigated agriculture. Taking into account the limited water resources, measures on rational use of natural resources are used in Nakhchivan to the maximum extent. In 1995, 294 million m3 of fresh water were taken from the water facilities, including 268.9 million m3-for irrigation, 8 million m3 for industrial purposes and 17.1 million m3-for domestic economical needs. The blockade of Nakhichevan resulted in a reduction in production by 2/3 times, due to this, water consumption for industrial purposes decreased. A major consumption in industry falls onto Nakhchivan city-4.5 million m3. Discharges of used water constituted 4.5 million m3 as industrial and domestic sewage, of which 2.5 million m3-was mechanically treated in the treatment facilities of Nakhchivan city. It should be noted, that the blockade of the Nakhchivan Republic by Armenia, going on for 6 years, has caused great damage, not only to industrial potential, but to the agriculture of the Republic as well. The extreme deficiency of fuel and electric power did not allow meliorating and taking soil-recreating measures Taking it into account, that the whole territory of the Republic is prone to salinization and erosion, inadequate implementation of meliorating measures leads to a rapid strengthening of these processes At present more than 63% of irrigated land needs to be meliorated and is exposed to a certain extent to salinization. Out of 53630 hectares of land, 18.9% is weakly eroded, over 24%-medium eroded and
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