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[01] Arda Valley

Haskovo, Kardzhali District
NATURA 2000: Lycaena dispar, Euphydryas aurinia

Coordinates: 25° 42’ 59’’ E, 41° 36’ 44’’ N — Altitude: 154 m — Area: 47660 ha

Description: The region comprises part of the deep and narrow valley of the Arda River, surrounded by mountain slopes and in some places up to 150-metre-high rock formations mainly of volcanic origin. A large part of the territory is occupied by rock complexes, single rocks, and deep screes. Here and there the slopes are covered by mixed deciduous forests consisting of Quercus cerris, Q. frainetto, and Q. pubescens with such Mediterranean elements as Juniperus oxycedrus, Colutea arborescens, etc. The karst region between Oreshari and Dolno Cherkovishte is composed mainly of Carpinus orientalis forests mixed with Acer monspessulanum and Fraxinus ornus. The area is also grown with bushes of Paliurus spina-christi and Syringa vulgaris, mixed with Jasminum fruticans and combined with xerothermic grass formations with Mediterranean elements. There are single trees of Pyrus amygdaliformis, Pistacia terebinthus, and Ulmus minor. The river bed is sandy and stony, and its banks are grown with willows, bushes, and galleries of Alnus glutinosa. In various places there are single Tamarix bushes.

The butterflies of the region are studied very well. The first data were published by Beshkov (1994, 1995). The reason for including the area is the presence of important populations of 17 of the target species [see a list below], especially Pontia chloridice, Lycaena ottomanus and Euphydryas aurinia.

Target species: Thymelicus acteon, Pyrgus cinarae, Pieris ergane, Pontia chloridice, Lycaena dispar, L. ottomanus, Pseudophilotes vicrama, Scolitantides orion, Glaucopsyche alexis, Maculinea arion, Plebejus sephirus, Hipparchia senthes, Apatura metis, Limenitis populi, Euphydryas aurinia, Melitaea trivia, Brenthis hecate.

Rocky formations along the Arda River. Habitat of Pieris krueperi, Pseudophilotes vicrama, Scolitantides orion, Glaucopsyche alexis (Photo S. Beshkov, August 2005).
Rocky formations along the Arda River

Wet grassland near oak forests, Cromlech, E Rhodopi; habitat of Euphydryas aurinia (Photo S. Beshkov, May 2006).
Wet grassland near oak forests, Cromlech, E Rhodopi

Protection & threats: Part of the region is protected by law. It comprises, for example, the protected areas of Patronka, Pchelen Kamak, Momina Skala, and Chernata Skala near Madzharovo, which were declared protected in view of preserving a colony of white-backed vultures and other birds. The habitats of the region are influenced by the human activities, basically connected with forestry and cattle breeding. The forests are threatened by natural fires or fires caused by man, afforestation with alien wood species, and illegitimate cutting of vegetation along the river. There are plans for the construction of small hydropower plants along the Arda River. The last decade is characterised by intensive development of tourism in the region, which can also lead to negative consequences. The region of Madzharovo is affected by ore production: there are a lot of artificial srcees made up of inert materials from the galleries and mines, landslides, water flowing out of the mine galleries, abandoned rails and equipment. A major threat for the region are the tailing ponds with tons of buried toxic tailings inside.

Other remarks: In 1989 this territory was declared an area of ornithological importance by BirdLife International. Part of it overlaps a CORINE area declared as such in 1998 because of its European importance for the preservation of rare and endangered habitats, plants, and animals. The moths are well investigated and contribute to the conservation status of the region. The following rare species of conservation importance have been found here: Triodia amasinus dobrogensis, Stygoides colchica, Eochorica balcanica, Saturnia pyri, Perisomena caecigena, Lemonia balcanica, Rethera komarovi drilon, Kentrochrysalis elegans, Carcharodus orientalis, Zerynthia cerisy ferdinandi, Pieris krueperi, Leptidea duponcheli, Colias erate, Tarucus balkanicus, Plebeius anteros, Melitaea punica, Melanargia larissa, Hipparchia syriaca, Hipparchia fatua, Hyponephele lupina, Cilix asiatica, Eumera regina, Erannis declinans, Nychiodes waltheri, Charissa intermedia, Xanthorhoe oxybiata, Thaumetopoea solitaria, Paradrymonia vittata bulgarica, Peridea korbi, Craniophora pontica, Simyra dentinosa, Cryphia burgeffi, Hypena palpalis, Cryphia tephrocharis, Calocucullia celsiae, Cleonymia opposita, Omphalophana anatolica, Amephana dalmatica, Praestilbia armeniaca, Amphipyra tetra, Amphipyra stix, Asteroscopus syriaca decipulae, Episema lederi, Lithophane merckii, Tiliacea cypreago christiani, Agrochola gratiosa, Agrochola osthelderi, Agrochola deleta, Conistra ragusae macedonica, Polymixis trisignata, Gortyna moesiaca, Leucania herrichi, Orthosia schmidti pinkeri, Hadula mendax occidentalis, Leucania punctosa, Nola ronkayorum, Ocneria ledereri, Euplagia quadripunctaria, Ocnogyna parasita lianea. For Stygoides colchica, Melasina christenseni and Oulobophora externata these are the only localities in Bulgaria. The species Euplagia quadripunctaria was listed in Annex II of the Habitats Directive of the European Union.

Map of Arda Valley area
Map of Arda Valley area.