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[05] Central Balkan

Gabrovo, Lovech, Stara Zagora District
NATURA 2000: Polyommatus eroides

Coordinates: 24° 43’ 50’’ E, 42° 44’ 19’’ N — Altitude: 998 m — Area: 71826 ha

Description: It comprises the slopes of the highest parts of the Middle Stara Planina (Zlatishko-Tetevenska and Troyansko-Kaloferska). The rock base is composed of silicate and limestone and is characterised by gorges, caves, precipices, waterfalls, huge rock formations and walls. The greater part of the territory is covered by forests. The low mountain belt is grown with mixed deciduous forests of Fagus moesiaca, Carpinus betulus, Quercus daleschampii, Ostrya carpinifolia, etc., interspersed with Pinus nigra. In some places the beech forests are mixed with Abies alba, followed further up by coniferous forests, mainly consisting of Picea abies and more rarely by Pinus peuce. The uppermost part of the mountain is covered by sub-alpine bushes of Juniperus sibirica and Vaccinium and by pseudoalpine meadows with Nardeta strictae and Festuceta validae formations. There are also some acidophilic psychrophytic grass communities of Bellardiochloeta violaceae, Agrostideta capilaris, etc.

A very well studied region. Many data were published by Drenowski (1928), Buresch & Tuleschkow (1929), Beshkov (1995), Popov (1998). The reasons for including the region is the presence of important populations of 14 of the target species [see a list below], especially the high montane species Erebia orientalis, E. alberganus, E. rhodopensis, E. pronoe, E. melas and Boloria eunomia.

Target species: Parnassius mnemosyne, P. apollo, Maculinea arion, Polyommatus eroides, Coenonympha rhodopensis, Erebia orientalis, E. medusa, E. alberganus, E. rhodopensis, E. pronoe, E. melas, Apatura iris, Melitaea trivia, Boloria eunomia.

Grass communities near Beklemeto Pass, Central Stara Planina. Habitat of Erebia medusa (Photo D. Louy, 10 August 2005).
Grass communities near Beklemeto Pass, Central Stara Planina

Central Balkan, habitat of Boloria eunomia (Photo S. Beshkov, 1993).
Central Balkan, habitat of Boloria eunomia

Protection & threats: The territory of the Central Balkan is protected by law. One of the three national parks of Bulgaria — the Central Balkan — is here, declared as such in 1991 in view of protecting natural ecosystems and their characteristic biodiversity. There are 9 strict reserves, 4 of which were declared biosphere reserves by UNESCO in 1977. A great part of the region is easily accessible to visitors because of the presence of populated areas along the southern and northern borders and the relative proximity of the region to some district centres. The forest habitats are highly affected by the vigorous exploitation of the old deciduous forests outside the Park. In large parts of the territory large-scale investment projects for the construction of ski resorts have put the habitats at the risk of destruction. The anthropogenic pressure is especially strong during the time of blueberries picking. The situation is similar during the time of picking mushrooms and herbs.

Other remarks: In 1997 the territory of the Central Balkan National Park was proclaimed an area of ornithological importance by BirdLife International. There have been established 151 nesting bird species, 26 of which are included in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria. In 1998 the territory of Central Balkan was declared a CORINE area due to its European importance for the preservation of rare and endangered localities, plants and animals. Some rare and conservationally important moths have been established here: Venusia cambrica, Aplocera columbata, Acronicta alni, Orectis proboscidata, Euchalcia variabilis fuscolivacea, Shargacucullia prenanthis, Caradrina wullschlegeli, Caradrina suscianja, Apamea aquila, Apamea mailardi, Apamea rubrirena, Hadena caesia bulgarica, Mythimna andereggii pseudocomma, Actebia praecox, Rhyacia arenacea, Euxoa vitta hercegovinensis, Euxoa conspicua, etc.

Map of Central Balkan area
Map of Central Balkan area.