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[27] Pirin

Blagoevgrad District
NATURA 2000: Polyommatus eroides, Euphydryas aurinia

Coordinates: 23° 25’ 49’’ E, 41° 44’ 32’’ N — Altitude: 1906 m — Area: 40409 ha

Description: It is situated in Southwest Bulgaria between the valleys of the Struma and Mesta rivers and it occupies the higher part of the mountain bearing the same name. To the north it is separated from the Rila Mountain by the Predel Saddle; to the south it reaches as far as the Paril Saddle. Morphographically Pirin is divided into three parts: northern, middle, and southern. Typical for the mountain are the pointed peaks and the steep vertical slopes. The oldest rock formations are made up of metamorphous granitoids, crystalline shists and marbles. About 60% of the area is occupied by Palaeozoic and Mesozoic granites and granite-like rocks. The limestone part is richest in endemic plant species. There are more than 186 lakes, most of which are of glacial origin. Pirin Mountains is covered mainly by forests and high montane meadows and open spaces. The grass localities in the alpine zone are represented by communities of Sesleria coerulans, Dryas octopelata, Carex curvula, Agrostis rupestris, and Festuca airoides. The subalpine zone is characterised by a wide variety of formations of Pinus mugo, Juniperus communis nana, Chamaecytisus absinthioides, Vaccinium uliginosum, Festuca penzesii and Festuca valida. The coniferous belt is represented by communities of Picea abies, Pinus peuce, and Pinus sylvestris, grown upon silicate terrains, as well as by formations of P. heldreichii and Pinus nigra, grown upon marble terrains. The areas situated at 900—1600 metres above the sea level are covered predominantly by Fagus sylvatica forests. The lower areas are grown with deciduous forests consisting of Quercus dalechampii, Carpinus orientalis betulus, and Fagus moesiaca. Pirin’s flora comprises 2000 plant species, which is almost half of all the plant species in Bulgaria.

The butterflies are investigated very well in the region. The first data were recorded by Buresch (1918) and Drenowski (1920). The reason for including the area is the presence of important populations of 27 (more than half) of the target species [see a list below], especially Agriades dardanus, Polyommatus nephohiptamenos, Erebia gorge, E. rhodopensis and Euphydryas cynthia.

Target species: Thymelicus acteon, Carterocephalus palaemon, Pyrgus cacaliae, Parnassius mnemosyne, P. apollo, Glaucopsyche alexis, Maculinea alcon, M. arion, Plebejus sephirus, Agriades dardanus, Polyommatus eroides, Polyommatus nephohiptamenos, Coenonympha rhodopensis, Erebia orientalis, E. medusa, E. gorge, E. rhodopensis, E. pronoe, E. melas, E. oeme, Hipparchia senthes, Apatura iris, Limenitis populi, Nymphalis xanthomelas, Euphydryas cynthia, E. aurinia, Melitaea trivia.

Herbaceous formations in the alpine belt of Pirin (Photo S. Beshkov, August 2006).
Herbaceous formations in the alpine belt of Pirin

Habitat of Erebia melas in Pirin, Vihren, 2300 m (Photo D. Louy, 2005).
Habitat of Erebia melas in Pirin, Vihren, 2300 m

Rocky slopes with Pinus mugo communities in the alpine belt of Pirin (Photo S. Beshkov, August 2006).
Rocky slopes with Pinus mugo communities in the alpine belt of Pirin

Protection & threats: A great part of the region is protected by law after being declared National Park in 1962 as part of the measures for the protection of the self-regulating systems, characterised by a wide biological variety, communities and localities of rare and endangered species. In 1983 Pirin National Park was acknowledged by UNESCO as an area of great cultural and natural importance in the world. The Park comprises two reserves — Bayuvi Dupki — Dzhindzhiritsa, declared as such in 1934, and Yulen, declared as such in 1994. The first was also proclaimed as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1977. The nature of the mountain is liable to be influenced or harmed by the industrial and forest activities and the development of tourism (especially by the vast construction works). The wood localities are highly threatened by the immense wood production outside the park and by the illegal deforestation upon the whole territory. A huge project for the extension of the ski complex and the construction of maintenance equipment above the town of Bansko has already caused a massive destruction of hundred-year-old Pinus peuce forests. The ski-tracks construction was accompanied by the cutting of much greater areas of wood than the officially permitted ones. In some parts, the soil was washed away, laying bare the rock under it. The width of the tracks exceeds more than five times the permitted one. New investment projects for smaller ski complexes have been included in the regional plans for the development of the settlements around Pirin without being conformed to the management plan the park. There are intentions for disputing the lawfulness of the park or for the exclusion of parts of its territory. There are several instances of illegal deforestation and construction in the park. The anthropogenic pressure in the region is extremely strong and negative. As conservation measures we recommend effective interference on the side of international institutions and stern refusal of the resorts in the region.

Other remarks: The greater part of the territory of the Pirin Mountains was declared a CORINE area in 1998 due to its European importance for the preservation of rare and endangered habitats, plants and animals. In 2005 the territory was proclaimed a place of ornithological importance by BirdLife International. There are 129 nesting birds species, 19 of which were included in Red Data Book of Bulgaria. In terms of localities Northern and Southern Pirin differ considerably. Southern Pirin has a xeromontane character and shortage of water basins. There are great differences in the butterfly fauna of the region as well, which in Southern Pirin is similar to Slavyanka’s rather than to Northern Pirin’s. Some of the species of conservation value, established there, are: Proserpinus proserpina, Cepphis advenaria, Charissa certhiatuis, Charissa glaucinaria peruni, Glacies coracina bureschi, Idaea metohiensis, Nebula nebulata pirinica, Thera britannica, Colostygia aqueata herzegovinensis, Horisme calligraphata, Scotopteryx ignorata, Aplocera columbata, Autophila ligaminosa, Hypena munitalis, Euchalcia variabilis fuscolivacea, Syngrapha rilaecacuminum, Shargacucullia prenanthis, Paradrina suscianja, Xylena lunifera, Apamea rubrirena, Apamea zeta, Apamea maillardi, Apamea platinea, Hydraecia micacea, Hadula odontites, Hadula mendax occidentalis, Hadula melanopa, Hadena vulcanica urumovi, Hadena caesia bulgarica, Hadena drenowskii, Mythimna andereggii pseudocomma, Chersotis andereggii, Chersotis anatolica, Chersotis fimbriola forsteri, Epipsilia cervantes vargai, Xestia speciosa, Euxoa conspicua, Euxoa montivaga, etc. Some of them are Balkan and local endemics. The species Euplagia quadripunctaria is listed in Annex II of the Habitats Directive of the European Union.

Map of Pirin area
Map of Pirin area.