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[24] Ograzhden

Blagoevgrad District
NATURA 2000: Lycaena dispar

Coordinates: 23° 4’ 10’’ E, 41° 37’ 53’’ N — Altitude: 879 m — Area: 44986 ha

Description: The region comprises part of the mountain bearing the same name in the southwest part of the country, including the valley of Lebnitsa River and part of Mount Maleshevo in the north, to the valley of the Struma River in the east, and to the valley of Strumeshnitsa River in the south. The western boundary of the region borders the state boundary with the Republic of Macedonia. The southern slopes of the mountain are steep, deforested, and strongly eroded. Geologically they are composed of Precambrian mica shists, gneiss, and amphibolites. The vegetation is composed mainly of forests of Quercus pubescens, Q. virgiliana, Q. frainetto, Q. cerris, here and there mixed with Acer monspessulanum and Pistacia terebinthus. In various places there are Castanea sativa forests. The deforested areas are occasionally grown with bushes dominated by Paliurus spina-christi, Juniperus oxycedrus, Crataegus monogyna, Prunus spinosa, and xerothermic grass formations of Andropogon ischaemum, Poa bulbosa, Andropogon gryllus, and ephemerals. The high parts of the region are covered by beech (Fagus sylvatica) forests and here and there by subforests of Corylus avellana, Cornus mas, Crataegus monogyna, etc. The lower parts of the river banks are grown with Salix and Platanus orientalis.

The butterflies of the region are studied well enough. Regional investigation results were published by Ganev (1986). The reason for including the area is the presence of important populations of 7 of the target species [see a list below], especially Lycaena dispar and Hipparchia senthes.

Target species: Lycaena dispar, Pseudophilotes vicrama, Glaucopsyche alexis, Maculinea arion, Plebejus sephirus, Hipparchia senthes, Melitaea trivia.

The slopes of Mount Ograzhden (Photo S. Beshkov, April 2007).
The slopes of Mount Ograzhden

Protection & threats: The region is influenced by human activities, mainly connected with forestry and agriculture. There are illegitimate dumping grounds in many places. The habitats are affected by human activities, connected mainly with forestry and water usage. Forestation and afforestation with alien species like Quercus suber and Robinia pseudoacacia have caused changes in the wood habitats. A main source of energy for heating and household needs is the burning of wood, obtained by cutting forests, often against the law. As conservation measures for the natural forests we recommend the financial stimulation of cutting Robinia pseudoacacia as heating timber. Other aggressively introduced species are Ailanthus and Amorfa fruticosa. As future management measures we recommend struggle against introduced species and afforestation with natural species for the region.

Other remarks: The region is rich in reptiles and is extremely important for the preservation of the herpetofauna. The butterfly fauna is studied comparatively well, but only in the low parts of the mountain. The high parts are investigated insufficiently and need further study. Other butterflies and moths of conservation importance established in the region are: Stygia mosulensis, Erynnis marloyi, Melitaea punica telona, Hipparchia volgensis, Simplicia rectalis, Amephana dalmatica, Amphipyra tetra, Amphipyra stix, Panemeria tenebromorpha, Caradrina suscianja, Caradrina vicina, Agrochola gratiosa, Spudaea pontica, Dryobotodes tenebrosa, Noctua tirrenica, Xestia cohaesa, Nola subchlamydula, Euplagia quadripunctaria. The last species was listed in Annex II of the Habitats Directive of the European Union.

Map of Ograzhden area
Map of Ograzhden area.