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[03] Besaparian Hills

Pazardzhik District
NATURA 2000: Lycaena dispar

Coordinates: 24° 24’ 20’’ E, 42° 5’ 55’’ N — Altitude: 251 m — Area: 6743 ha

Description: The Besaparian Hills are situated in the southwest part of the Thracian lowland near the town of Pazardzhik at the foot of the Rhodopi Mountains. To the north they border Maritsa River and to the east — Stara Reka. To the west they join the Rodopi Mountains by means of the Kolchagovski Heights. The Besaparian Hills consist of five parts: Glavnishki, Ognyanovo-Sinitevski, Trivodishki, Novoselsko-Krichimski, and Kapitan-Dimitrievski. The region comprises low limestone treeless hills and the adjoining open spaces. The highest point of the region stands 536 m above the sea level. The slopes are highly eroded and composed of karst, rock, and stone formations, with no presence of water basins; the soils are shallow. The Besaparian Hills were formed by Proterozoic marble and Proterozoic carbonate and silicate. In the area of Hadzhievo Station there are some karst springs feeding fisheries grown with aqueous vegetation such as Phragmites and Typha. The treeless landscape is a typical feature of the Besaparian Hills. The present cenoses of Quercus pubescens, Q. fraineto, Q. cerris, Carpinus orientalis and Pistacia terebinthus are composed by the sporadic residual forest vegetation. The bush vegetation is represented by cenoses of Syringa vulgaris, Cotinus coggygria, Paliurus spina-christi, Jasminum fruticans and Juniperus oxycedrus. The most common grass communities are dominated by Dichantium ischaemum, Festuca vallesiaca, Agropyrum brandzae, Brachypodium distachyon, etc. The hills are characterised by open and half open calciphylous and calciphobous xerothermic grass communities, making them an important place of refuge for rare, endemic, and relict species. Four local endemics (such as Gypsophila tekirae) are found there. The Besaparian Hills are known with 568 species of higher plants (not counting the mosses and the cultural plants).

The butterflies of the region have been investigated sufficiently well. The majority of data were published by Ganev & Beshkov (1987). The main reason for including the area is the presence of important populations of 7 of the target species [see a list below], especially Pieris ergane, Lycaena dispar and Brenthis hecate.

Target species: Zerynthia polyxena, Pieris ergane, Lycaena dispar, Pseudophilotes vicrama, Glaucopsyche alexis, Melitaea trivia, Brenthis hecate.

General view of the Besaparian Hills (Photo B. Petrov, April 2007).
General view of the Besaparian Hills

Protection & threats: The surrounding areas are invaded by continuing urbanisation, which makes the region easily accessible and liable to pressure from various human activities. The most serious problem leading to loss of valuable habitats is the gradual turning of the pastures and meadows into vine growing areas. The opening and exploitation of quarries for the extraction of inert materials is a key factor leading to destruction of grass localities. Other threats, exercising negative impact on the quality of the locations, are the usage of pesticides in arable lands and the burning of stubbles. A main energy source for heating and household needs is the burning of timber, produced by cutting trees, as a result of which the region is completely deforested. As conservation measures for the preservation of the natural forests we recommend the financial stimulation of the cutting of Robinia pseudoacacia for heating timber.

Other remarks: Part of the territory was declared a CORINE area in 1998 because of its European importance for the preservation of rare and endangered habitats, plants and animals. In 2005 this territory was declared an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International. There have been established 86 nesting bird species, 15 of which are included in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria. Some butterfly and moth species of conservation importance from other groups established in the region are: Triodia amasina, Dyspessa salicicola, Colias erate, Leptidea duponcheli, Tarucus balkanica, Hipparchia syriaca, Hipparchia volgensis, Saturnia pyri, Saurnia pavoniella, Dasycorsa modesta, Erannis declinans, Nychiodes waltheri, Idaea muricata, Odice arcuinna, Acontia titania, Pyrrhia victorina, Xylena lunifera, Asteroscopus syriaca decipulae, Polyphaenis subsericata, Lacanobia blenna, Saragossa implexa, Dichagyris melanura melanura, Euxoa hastifera, Agrotis obesa scitha, Nola cristatula, Euplagia quadripunctaria, etc. The last species was listed in Annex II of the Habitats Directive of the European Union.

Map of Besaparian Hills area
Map of Besaparian Hills area.