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[29] Rila

Blagoevgrad, Kyustendil, Pazardzhik, Sofia District
NATURA 2000: Polyommatus eroides, Euphydryas aurinia

Coordinates: 23° 31’ 27’’ E, 42° 8’ 41’’ N — Altitude: 2508 m — Area: 78064 ha

Description: The region comprises the greater part of the mountain bearing the same name and fully encompasses the Rila National Park. In geological respect, the mountain is characterised by a huge diversity. Most of the rocks are old, metamorphous, and intrusive (south Bulgarian granites). The peripheral and lower parts are composed of sediments (Palaeogene, Pliocene, and Quaternary deposits). There are more than 100 glacial lakes and several dams. A significant part of the national water resource is formed here. The mountain is largely covered by forests and high mountainous habitats. About 90% of the existing ecosystems are of natural origin. There are 1, 400 species of higher plants. The alpine zone is covered by a great number of meadow communities. The subalpine part is widely grown over with Pinus mugo, Juniperus communis nana, Chamaecytisus absinthioides, Vaccinium myrtillus, and Nardus stricta. The meadows are grown over with acidophytic psychrophytic grass communities (Cariceta curvulae, Festuceta riloensis, Seslerieta comosae, Junceta trifidi, Agrostideta rupestris, etc.) basically of derivative character. The coniferous belt is represented by Pinus peuce, Picea abies, Pinus sylvestris, and Abies alba communities. The deciduous forests are dominated by the common Fagus sylvatica.

The butterflies of the region are investigated very well. A number of investigation results were published by Drenowski (1909b, 1909c) Buresch & Tuleschkow (1929, 1930). The reasons for including the region is the presence of important populations of 20 of the target species, especially Parnassius apollo, Colias caucasica, Erebia orientalis, E. gorge, E. rhodopensis, E. pronoe, E. melas and Euphydryas cynthia.

Target species: Pyrgus cacaliae, Parnassius mnemosyne, P. apollo, Colias caucasica, Pieris ergane, Maculinea arion, Polyommatus eroides, Coenonympha rhodopensis, Erebia orientalis, E. gorge, E. rhodopensis, E. pronoe, E. melas, E. oeme, Limenitis populi, Neptis rivularis, Euphydryas cynthia, E. aurinia, Melitaea trivia, Brenthis hecate.

The southern slope of Belmeken Ridge in Rila, 2100 m. Habitat of Coenonympha rhodopensis, Erebia ottomana, E. pronoe, E. melas, E. oeme (Photo S. Beshkov, August 2006).
The southern slope of Belmeken Ridge in Rila, 2100 m

The circus of Musalenski Ezera in Rila, 2400 m. Habitat of Erebia rhodopensis, E. pronoe, E. melas, E. pandrose, Euphydryas cynthia (Photo D. Louy, August 2005).
The circus of Musalenski Ezera in Rila, 2400 m

Protection & threats: A great part of the territory is protected by law under the national conservation legislation. The largest Bulgarian national park is situated here. There are 60 different kinds of habitats under the CORINE classification, 29 of which are of high conservation value and are included in the endangered habitats list, requiring special preservation measures according the Habitats Directive of the European Union and Resolution 4 connected with it. There four reserves (category I under IUCN): the Central Rila Reserve, Ibar, Parangalitsa, and Skakavitsa. The Central Rila Reserve and Parangalitsa were declared biosphere reserves by UNESCO in 1977. The habitats are mainly affected by human activities connected with forestry, development of tourism and water exploitation. The forest habitats are highly affected by the intensive forest and industrial activities outside the Park or by intentional fires and illegal cutting. A tunnel system for transferring waters from one water catchment basin into another has been built in the mountain. Tourism and medicinal plant, herb, and wild fruit picking have a considerable effect on the high mountainous meadows. Big investment projects for the construction of ski resorts and maintenance facilities threaten to destroy completely the good quality forest habitats and high mountainous meadows and pastures.

Other remarks: The region is part of a CORINE area (1998) due to its European importance for the preservation of rare and endangered localities, plants and animals. In 2005 the territory was proclaimed an area of ornithological importance by BirdLife International. There are 130 nesting bird species, 20 of which are included in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria. The moths of the region are studied comparatively well. There have been established the following more interesting species of moths: Lemonia taraxaci, Rhopalognophos glaucinaria peruni, Nebula nebulata pirinica, Entephria flavicinctata, Euchalcia variabilis fuscolivacea, Syngrapha rilaecacuminum, Caradrina suscianja, Apamea maillardi, Apamea zeta, Apamea rubrirena, Apamea oblonga, Coranarta cordigera, Hadula melanopa, Hadena caesia bulgarica, Hadena drenowskii, Mythimna andereggii pseudocomma, Chersotis alpestris ponticola (the only known locality in Bulgaria), Chersotis anatolica, Epipsilia cervantes vargai, Xestia speciosa, Xestia collina (the only known locality in Bulgaria), Euxoa conspicua, Agrotis fatidica, Euplagia quadripunctaria, Arctia flavia, etc. The species Euplagia quadripunctaria is included in Annex II of the Habitats Directive of the European Union. The following butterfly species are not included as target species, but are nevertheless interesting: Boloria pales rilaensis, Boloria graeca balcanica, Boloria selene, etc.

Map of Rila area
Map of Rila area.