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[23] Mursalitsa

Smolyan District
NATURA 2000: Polyommatus eroides

Coordinates: 24° 35’ 42’’ E, 41° 37’ 38’’ N — Altitude: 1639 m — Area: 23877 ha

Description: The region comprises some areas in the central part of the Western Rhodopi Mountains to the west of the town of Smolyan. It encompasses the valleys of the rivers Shirokolashka and Muglenska, and the Mursalitsa Ridge. A large part of the region is covered by forests, which are predominantly coniferous, mainly Picea abies or in some places pine (Pinus sylvestris). The grass communities are generally varied, but dominated by Agrostis capillaris and Nardus stricta communities. The only sterling subalpine place is situated in the area along the Perelik Peak. The river banks are grown over with Petasitis. The lower parts of the region are covered by separate communities of Sambucus, Corylus avellana, Crataegus monogyna, lime (Tilia), hornbeam (Carpinus), Ostrya carpinifolia, Acer, Fraxinus, Sorbus and other characteristic deciduous species.

The butterflies of the region are well investigated. The results were published in the works of Markowitsch (1923), Buresch & Tuleschkow (1929). The reason for including the area is the presence of important populations of 9 of the target species [see a list below], especially Parnassius apollo and Melitaea aurelia.

Target species: Parnassius apollo, Pieris ergane, Scolitantides orion, Maculinea alcon, Polyommatus eroides, Coenonympha rhodopensis, Erebia medusa, Nymphalis xanthomelas, Melitaea aurelia.

A view of the area near Smolyanski Ezera. Habitat of Erebia medusa (Photo S. Beshkov, 2005).
A view of the area near Smolyanski Ezera

Protection & threats: Part of the region is protected by law according to the national nature protection legislation. The Soskovcheto Reserve was declared as such in 1968. The region is greatly affected by the industrial and forestry activities and by the water usage and tourism. The forests are threatened by intensive forestation or illegitimate cutting outside the strictly protected areas. This is one of the favourite tourist regions in Western Rhodopi, which is also rich in historical, cultural, and natural sights. A possible danger for the region is the construction of hotel complexes and holiday villages, water catchment for small hydropower plants and the increased human presence. A serious danger is the investment for the building of ski facilities and wind generation parks with the accompanying infrastructure. As a protection measure we recommend that the Western Rhodopi are proclaimed a transboundary park as was proposed some years ago.

Other remarks: In 2005 the territory was declared an area of ornithological importance by BirdLife International. It was proclaimed a CORINE area in 1989 due to its European importance for the preservation of rare and endangered localities, plants and animals. The moths are not sufficiently investigated. Several species of conservation importance have been established, such as: Adscita drenowskii, Hyles vespertilio, Lycaena candens, Lycaena virgaureae, Fagivorina arenaria, Eustroma reticulata, Perizoma alchemillata, Catocala lupina, Plusia putnami gracilis, Diachrysia stenochrysis, Syngrapha interrogationis, Apamea furva, Hyppa rectilinea, Hydraecia petasitis, Mythimna impura, Hadena werhlii frequens, Hadena vulcanica urumovi, Hadena caesia bulgarica, Rhyacia arenacea, Albocosta musiva, Euxoa decora, Panthea coenobita, Euplagia quadripunctaria, Parasemia plantaginis interrupta. The species Euplagia quadripunctaria was listed in Annex II of the Habitats Directive of the European Union.

Map of Mursalitsa area
Map of Mursalitsa area.