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[15] Karlukovo Karst

Lovech, Pleven, Vratsa District
NATURA 2000: Lycaena dispar

Coordinates: 24° 2’ 12’’ E, 43° 13’ 16’’ N — Altitude: 190 m — Area: 28842 ha

Description: The region is situated in the area of the ForeBalkan, near the town of Cherven Bryag in the north and the valley of the River Kosmatitsa and the Iskar Gorge in the south. It is situated in a hilly karst region, indented by gorge-like river valleys. The rock base is composed of Triassic and Jurassic limestones, in many places revealed as rock wreaths, walls, rock plateaus, and caves. A great part of the region is occupied by open grass areas grown with thermophytic grass communities dominated by Dichantium ischaemum, Poa bulbosa, and Chrysopogon gryllus. The bushes consist of Syringa vulgaris, Paliurus spina-christi, Prunus spinosa, etc. There are small areas with mesophytic meadows grown with Festuca pratensis, Poa sylvicola, Alopecurus pratensis, Lolium perenne, Agrostis stolonifera, as well as bushes consisting mainly of Carpinus orientalis. The largest part of the forest habitats is covered by the deciduous forests dominated by mixed oak forests of Quercus cerris and Q. frainetto. Here and there the forests are interspersed with Carpinus orientalis and Q. pubescens.

The butterflies of the region are studied comparatively well; regional investigation results were published by Slivov (1968). The reasons for including the region is the presence of important populations of 8 of the target species [see a list below], especially Neptis sappho, Melitaea aurelia and Brenthis hecate.

Target species: Zerynthia polyxena, Lycaena dispar, Scolitantides orion, Maculinea arion, Apatura metis, Neptis sappho, Melitaea aurelia, Brenthis hecate.

Rock walls of Triassic limestones, covered with bush communities of Carpinus orientalis, Syringa vulgaris and Prunus spinosa near Reselets Village, Karlukovo Karst area. Habitat of Neptis sappho, Polygonia egea (Photo S. Beshkov, 25 August 2006).
Rock walls of Triassic limestones, covered with bush communities of Carpinus orientalis, Syringa vulgaris and Prunus spinosa near Reselets Village, Karlukovo Karst area

Protection & threats: The region comprises 16 natural attractions and 1 protected area. The greater part of them have been declared protected in view of the preservation of caves and rock formations. It is situated in a relatively low populated region with well developed infrastructure. This makes it easily accessible and subjected to a considerable anthropogenic pressure coming mainly from agriculture, forestry, and tourism. The pastures along the slopes are grazed excessively by goats, which destroys the bush vegetation and the low trees. Another activity, connected with cutting up and ruining the grass habitats, is household and industrial dumping. The dry pastures and meadows are especially liable to catching fires. The quality of the forest habitats is highly damaged the illegal cutting of forests for heating timber and the afforestation with alien species.

Other remarks: Part of the region overlaps with the Karlukovo Karst CORINE place declared as such in 1998 because of its European importance for the preservation of rare and endangered habitats, plants and animals. In 2005 the territory was proclaimed an area of ornithological importance by BirdLife International. There have been established 128 bird species, 25 of which are included in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria. Some of the conservationally important butterflies and moths established in the region are: Polygonia egea, Neognopharmia stevenaria, Cucullia artemisiae, Shargacucullia gozmanyi, Calocucullia celsiae, Amphipyra stix, Mythimna alopecuri.

Map of Karlukovo Karst area
Map of Karlukovo Karst area.