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[33] Sakar

Haskovo, Yambol District
NATURA 2000: Lycaena dispar

Coordinates: 26° 15’ 27’’ E, 41° 57’ 41’’ N — Altitude: 200 m — Area: 167101 ha

Description: The region of Sakar is covered by round hills and open valleys of rivers (Maritsa and Tundzha) and tributaries near the Bulgarian boundary with Turkey. The lower parts are occupied by agricultural lands and Quercus pubescens and Q. virgiliana forests interspersed with xerothermic grass communities dominated by Dichantium ischaemum, Poa bulbosa, Chrysopogon gryllus and more rarely by mesoxerothermic vegetation. The soils are shallow and sandy. There are many rock complexes or single rocks with petrophytic vegetation. The bush communities consist of Paliurus spina-christi, mixed with Jasminum fruticans. There are single tree groups of Pyrus amygdaliformis, Pistacia terebinthus, Acer monspessulanum, etc. The ridge and the slopes above 500 m are covered by mixed oak forests. Old Populus alba and Salix trees have still remained along most of the rivers and gulches. The populated areas are surrounded by vineyards and tobacco fields.

The butterflies of the region are investigated well enough. The first regional investigation results were published by Tschorbadjiew (1928). The reasons for including the region is the presence of important populations of 8 of the target species [see a list below], especially Lycaena dispar and A. metis.

Target species: Zerynthia polyxena, Parnassius mnemosyne, Lycaena dispar, Pseudophilotes vicrama, Hipparchia senthes, Apatura ilia, A. metis, Melitaea trivia.

Bush and herbaceous communities near mixed deciduous forests in Sakar area (Photo S. Beshkov, June 2005).
Bush and herbaceous communities near mixed deciduous forests in Sakar area

Protection & threats: Only a small part of Sakar is protected by law under the national conservation legislation. There are 7 protected areas, declared as such in view of preserving natural sites, rock formations, and rare plant species. The region is used extensively for cattle breeding and (in a lesser degree) for agriculture and forestry. The reduction of grazing, followed by succession, and the cultivation of the pastures leads to the loss of grass habitats. The dry pastures and meadows are particularly liable to fires. The quality of the forest habitats is ruined by the illegal cutting of timber for heating and the afforestation with alien species. The biggest threat for the region is the investment intention for the construction of a dam wall in the gorge of the River Tundzha near the village of Lesovo.

Other remarks: In 1998 part of region was declared a CORINE area because of its European importance for the preservation of rare and endangered habitats, plants and animals. In 1997 the territory was proclaimed an area of ornithological importance by BirdLife International. There have been established 220 bird species, 59 of which are included in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria, as well as a number of rare and conservationally important species like: Dolbina elegans, Proserpinus proserpina, Perisomena caecigena, Lemonia balcanica, Lasiocampa grandis, Nychiodes amygdalaria, Nychiodes waltheri, Protorhoe corollaria, Cryphia burgeffi, Odice arcuinna, Acontia titania, Calophasia barthae, Amephana dalmatica, Amphipyra tetra, Amphipyra stix, Asteroscopus syriaca decipulae, Polymixis trisignata, Haemerosia vassilininei, Praestilbia armeniaca, Xanthia cypreago christiani, Agrochola deleta, Gortyna moesiaca, Orthosia schmidti pinkeri, Hadena persimilis, Divaena haywardi, Euxoa glabella balcanica, Cymbalophora rivularis (the only locality in this country), etc.

Map of Sakar area
Map of Sakar area.