Meighan desert is a unique ecosystem. One of the most important aspects of this uniqueness is the Meighan wetland which has a high biodiversity. The wetland is located 15 km north-east of Arak, and 1670 meters above sea level. It is the most important home of migrant common cranes, Grus grus, in Iran, and also eastern Mediterranean Sea due to the problems that they face in other wetlands in Iran. There are more than 130 species of birds, including ducks, flamingo, Larus minitus, gray crane, greylag goose, etc. The area of the wetland changes from 10,000ha to 12,000ha depending on its water inputs.
At present, 73 plant species are recognized, most of them are halophytes due to the salinity of the area. 10 of them are verified by IUCN, two of them are endangered, and eight of them are vulnerable. The most important specie is a local plant, called Qarah-Daq. Its most important property is sand stabilization.
Some of the most important threatening factors of the area are as follows:
- Construction of more than 40 dams in front of the catchments of the area, with no regard to the water rights;
- Construction of more than 1800 wells in the area during the last 40 years;
- Unsustainable mineral extraction by the Mineral Factory;
- Construction of a road at the center of the wetland by the Mineral Factory, which has divided the wetland into two separated parts;
- Hunting the migrant birds, causing disturbance to the area;
- Unsustainable grazing;
- Local dust issues;
- Lack of comprehensive management for protecting the wetland.
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