NATURA 2000: Lycaena dispar
23° 17’ 47’’ E, 41° 27’ 9’’ N — Altitude:
122 m — Area:
The region is situated along the valley of the River Struma, south of the town of Sandanski, up to the Bulgarain border with Greece. It is named after the volcanic Hill of Kozhuh, one of the several hills surrounding Rupite, which is also a remnant of a volcanic crater. It is covered by rock formations but the relief is predominantly plain or hilly (in some parts). The only tidal river bank forest on the Bulgarian part of the Struma River is found here and is composed mainly of Populus alba. There are some rare plant species like Parvotricetum myrianthum, Amygdalus webbii, Dracunculus vulgaris, and Colchicum bivonae. It is highly dominated by open areas such as agricultural lands and pastures, grown over with xerothermic grass communities of Dichantium ischaemum and Poa bulbosa. Large parts of the territory are covered by Paliurus spina-christi and Juniperus oxycedrus bushes. Small parts are covered by deciduous forests, mainly composed of Quercus pubescens and Q. virgiliana with Mediterranean elements. There are single groups of Pyrus amygdaliformis, Pistacia terebinthus, Acer monspessulanum, Ulmus trees.
The butterflies are investigated well enough. Regional investigation results were published by Ganev (1984
). The reasons for including the region is the presence of important populations of 8 of the target species [see a list below], especially Pieris ergane
, Lycaena dispar
? Apatura metis
— Target species: Thymelicus acteon
, Zerynthia polyxena
, Pieris ergane
, Lycaena dispar
, Pseudophilotes vicrama
, Hipparchia senthes
, Apatura metis
, Melitaea trivia
Volcanic hill of Kozhuh. Habitat of Erynnis marloyi, Gonepteryx farinosa, Anthocharis gruneri, Pieris krueperi, Tarucus balkanicus, Melanargia larissa, Hipparchia syriaca, H. fatua, Apatura metis
, Melitaea trivia
(Photo S. Beshkov, June 2006).
Protection & threats:
The region comprises one protected area — Rupite — declared as such in 1980, and one natural attraction — Kozhuha — declared as such in 1975. The region is affected by human activities connected with agriculture, forestry, water management, and infrastructure development. The main threats connected with water management are: correction of the Struma river bed, extraction of inert materials from its bed, drying of the surrounding areas. This leads to destruction of the damp areas and the habitats connected with them. The cutting of forests along the river and the illegal cutting shall bring about to the complete destruction of these habitats. The last several years have been characterised by intensive construction works, most of which have not taken into consideration the natural value of the areas, thus ruining valuable habitats. There are illegal dumping grounds in many places. The hot mineral springs and Baba Vanga’s temple in Rupite are the reason for the increased human presence, especially during the weekends and holidays. This has necessitated the creation of a new building infrastructure, which shall have a highly negative influence on the region. There are plans for the mounting of a big cross on the top of the Hill of Kozhuh. It shall be reached by stairs, which will start at Rupite.
Part of the territory of the region overlaps the Malak Kozhuh — a CORINE area, declared as such in 1998 because of its European importance for the preservation of rare and endangered habitats, plants and animals. In 2005 it was proclaimed an area of ornithological importance by BirdLife International. There are 141 bird species, 33 of which are included in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria. The Malak Kozhuh is the richest reptile region in Bulgaria. A number of rare butterflies and moths of conservation importance have been established: Triodia adriatica, Lamellocossus terebra, Eriogaster catax, Phyllodesma ilicifolia, Lemonia taraxaci strigata, Saturnia spini, Proserpinus proserpina, Erynnis marloyi, Gegenes nostrodamus, Pieris krueperi, Anthocharis gruneri, Tarucus balkanica, Hyponephele lupina, Archiearis puella mediterranea, Nychiodes dalmatina, Erennis declinans, Chemelina caliginearia, Apochima flabellaria, Comibaena neriaria, Oulobophora internata, Idaea determineata, Acronicta cuspis, Cryphia teprocharis, Cryphia burgeffi, Macrochilo cribrumalis, Hypenodes anatolica, Catocala separata, Metachrostis velox, Metaegle pallida, Cucullia scopariae, Amephana dalmatica, Asteroscopus syriaca decipulae, Pyrrhia treitschkei, Chilodes maritima, Agrochola gratiosa, Agrochola wolfschlaegeri, Agrochola rupicapra, Agrochola osthelderi, Mnyotype solieri, Polymixis trisignata, Dryobota labecula, Analetia riparia, Agrotis syricola, Meganola gigantula, Thumatha senex, Pelosia obtusa, Euplagia quadripunctaria. The species Eriogaster catax and Euplagia quadripunctaria are included in Annex II of the Habitats Directive of the European Union.
Map of Malak Kozhuh area.