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[31] Ropotamo

Burgas District
NATURA 2000: Lycaena dispar

Coordinates: 27° 40’ 54’’ E, 42° 17’ 48’’ N — Altitude: 35 m — Area: 9854 ha

Description: The Ropotamo region comprises mainly the valley of the River bearing the same name as the region, the liman part and the low tide terrace covered with natural tidal forests, sand dunes, and deeply indented coastline with protruding capes and narrow and deep bays. The eastern part of the region comprises rocky hills and deciduous forests. An essential part of the habitats are the coastal swamps, some of which are grown with hygrophytic vegetation dominated by Phragmites australis, Typha angustifolia, Typha latifolia, Shoenoplectus litoralis, and others are grown with hydrophytic vegetation such as Nymphaea alba. Also characteristic for the region are the longose forests of Fraxinus oxycarpa, Ulmus minor, Alnus glutinosa and the significant presence of Hedera helix, Clematis vitalba, Smilax excelsa, and Periploca graeca. The deciduous forests consist largely of Quercus frainetto with some Mediterranean elements or such that are mixed with Quercus pubescens, Quercus virgiliana, and Quercus polycarpa. The phytocenoses also comprise Sorbus torminalis, Carpinus orientalis, C. betulus, and Fraxinus ornus. The grass vegetation consists of Dactylus glomerata, Brachypodium sylvaticum, Lathyrus niger, Salvia forskahlei, Genista carinalis, etc. The open places are grown with Colutea arborescens, Coronilla emeris, and Juniperus oxycedrus. The coastal strip is covered by dunes with psammophytic vegetation consisting mainly of Ammophilla arenaria, Pancratium maritimum, secondary bush and grass communities dominated by Paliurus spina-christi, Jasminum fruticans, and Artemisia maritima.

As far as butterflies are concerned, the region has been sufficiently investigated. The first data were reported by Iltschew (1924) and were later expanded by Krzywicki (1981) and Franke (1989). The reason for the inclusion of the region is the presence of important populations of 7 of the target species [see a list below], the most prominent of which are Heteropterus morpheus and Lycaena ottomanus. Apart from here, the two species were found together only in the Strandzha Mountain.

Target species: Heteropterus morpheus, Zerynthia polyxena, Lycaena dispar, L. ottomanus, Hipparchia senthes, Melitaea trivia, Brenthis hecate.

Ropotamo River with typical hygrophytic vegetation (Photo S. Beshkov, 2005).
Ropotamo River with typical hygrophytic vegetation (1)
Ropotamo River with typical hygrophytic vegetation (2)

Protection & threats: At present, a large part of the region is protected by law under the Bulgarian nature protection legislation. In 1940 the Ropotamo Reserve was originally declared as a model reserve for the preservation of a variety of localities and the rich flora and fauna. The Ropotamo Reserve comprises some smaller reserves such as Vodni Lilii, Zmiiski Ostrov, Arkutino, and Morski Pelin. Part of the region is situated on the territory of the Ropotamo Game Breeding Station and is guarded. The main threats come from the extremely intensive development of the resort settlements and the changes in the water regime, brought about by new water usage in the upper part of the Ropotamo River. The northern part of the region includes the Duni resort, the southern part — the town of Primorsko, which is also a well-developed resort centre. There are serious investment plans for the construction of a resort eco-complex in Arkutino consisting of three-star and four-star hotels and restaurants, which will have an accommodation base of more than 1700 bed and will be accompanied by an infrastructure consisting of an aqua park, swimming pools, ground and underground parking lot with 400 parking places, an administrative building, boutiques, shops, conference halls, sport complexes, a casino and a variety show, a yacht club, a golf field, a travel agency, industrial buildings, a machine park, a horse field, etc. — all this on an area of 612 decares. The construction activities, the maintenance and usage of the complex and the highly increased human presence are going to damage or even destroy the natural localities. There are similar investment plans for new construction of buildings or restoration of old forbidden buildings on Humata Cape on the border with Ropotamo. The cummulative and synergic effect of the investment plans to the north and south of Ropotamo are going to ruin the region for good. As conservation measures we recommend to include Humata cape into the Ropotamo Reserve. Humata Cape is a representative habitat of Platyceps collaris, Elaphe sauromates, Testudo hermanni, Testudo graeca, Ophisaurus apodus, Lucanus cervus, and Morimus funereus.

Other remarks: In 2003 Ropotamo was declared a wetland of international importance according to the Ramsar convention. The territory was proclaimed as a place of ornithological importance by BirdLife International. In the last several years 236 bird species, 69 of which are included in Red Data Book of Bulgaria, have been found on its territory. Because of its European importance for the preservation of rare and endangered habitats, plants and animals, it was declared a CORINE area in 1998. The moths are comparatively well studied and a number of rare species of conservation importance were established: Dolbina elegans, Lasiocampa grandis, Nychiodes waltheri, Moma alpium, Craniophora pontica, Macrochilo cribrumalis, Herminia tenuials, Schrankia costaestrigalis, Metachrostis velox, Cucullia xeranthemi, Valerietta hreblayi, Gryposia wegneri, Celaena leucostigma, Cosmia confinis, Archanara dissoluta, Archanara algae, Sedina pygmina, Oria musculosa, Mythimna straminea, Agrotis vestigialis, Nola ronkayorum, Euplagia quadripunctaria, Pelosia obtusa, etc. Arkutino is the only locality in Bulgaria of Herminia tenuialis and the only locality of Valerietta hreblayi altogether. The species Euplagia quadripunctaria is listed in Annex II of the Habitats Directive 92/43 of the European Union.

Map of Ropotamo area
Map of Ropotamo area.