About seven percent of the land area of the hotspot is under some form of protection today. However, less than half of that land – roughly three percent – is included in IUCN protected area categories I to IV. Among the most important protected areas in the region are the Tuz Lake Specially Protected Area in central Turkey, which, at 7,000 km², is the hotspot’s largest protected area; the 4,000 km² Alborz-e-Markazi Reserve in the central Elburz Mountains; the 4,640 km² Urumiyeh Lake National Park in Iran; and Sevan National Park in Armenia. All countries in the hotspot, except Iraq, are parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of Global Importance, and there are nine Ramsar sites in the hotspot: two in Turkey, five in Iran and two in Armenia.
A new concept being tested in the area is the development of Key Biodiversity Areas representing the most important sites for biodiversity conservation worldwide. Turkey is one of the first countries in the world to identify both Important Bird Areas and Key Biodiversity Areas. Although 85 percent of these Key Biodiversity Areas are not yet well protected, a national conservation program has been initiated by the Turkish Nature Society in collaboration with governmental institutions and NGOs to promote the protection of these areas. Turkey’s 18 different categories of protected areas and nine different laws will be harmonized by the end of 2005 through a new Nature Conservation Law.
In Iran, the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (1974) is the main law dealing with nature conservation. The country's four main kinds of protected areas provide good coverage to all its major habitat types. IUCN's Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy is based in Iran at the environmental Organization Cenesta. A number of NGOs are working in Iran to conserve flagship species, including the Persian subspecies of the fallow deer (Dama dama mesopotamica), which was on the verge of extinction in the late 1980s.
There is currently no legislation for biodiversity conservation or protection in Iraq. Several wild animal breeding stations exist, and a number of nature parks are managed for public recreation, but not wildlife conservation. A National Forest Foundation has been established, in part to protect the remaining forests in the Zagros region.
Turkmenistan, a relatively new independent state, is still developing its environmental laws. Although some existing nature reserves contribute to the protection of the Kopet Dagh's diverse woodlands, they often lack effective management.
Overall, lack of expertise and political instability are the major obstacle to biodiversity conservation in the Irano-Anatolian region. Existing protected areas networks should be expanded, and individual protected areas should be better managed. Unfortunately, the most intact and endemic-rich part of the hotspot – the northern part of the Zagros Mountains, where Turkey, Iraq and Iran meet – has also been the site of several military operations for many years. Biodiversity conservation goals for this area might offer an option for international collaboration on poverty alleviation and achieving a lasting peace.