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[39] Strandzha

Burgas District
NATURA 2000: Lycaena dispar, Euphydryas aurinia

Coordinates: 27° 37’ 17’’ E, 42° 4’ 3’’ N — Altitude: 245 m — Area: 116486 ha

Description: The Strandzha region is situated between the Burgas Lowland, Black Sea, and East Thrace. It occupies the hills of Bosna and Hasekiyata, the Bulgarian part of the Strandzha Mountain and the Black Sea Coast south of Ahtopol up to the Turkish border. It has a hilly and strongly eroded low-mountain relief, divided by the dense net of the valleys of the rivers Fakiyska, Veleka and Rezovska. It is characterised by a specific vegetation of southeuxinocolchidian types. The main plant communities, which in Bulgaria are typical only for this region, consist of Fagus orientalis, Quercus polycarpa, Rhododendron ponticum, Vaccinium arctostaphylos, and Laurocerasus officinalis. The forest consisting of south type beech-trees include Tilia tomentosa and other plant species, some of which are relicts: Corylus colurna, Acer platanoides, Acer campestre, etc. An interesting distribution feature is the inversion of the situation of the east beech communities occupying the deep dank ravines and are situated below the beeches. The xeromesophytic vegetation is represented by forests consisting of Quercus polycarpa, Carpinus betulus, Quercus cerris, Crataegus monogyna, the relict kind of Mespilus germanica and Sorbus torminalis. The subforest usually consists of Genista carnalis, Brachypodum sylvaticum, Festuca heterophylla, Poa nemoralis, Salvia forskaohlei, Primula vulgaris, Cyclamen coun, Trachystemon orientalis, Daphne pontica. The derivative vegetation is composed of Cistus incanus, Cistus salvifolius, Poa bulbosa, Chrysopogon gryllus, Dichantium ischaemum, etc. The Strandzha region is also the only region in the country containing communities of Caluna vulgaris and Erica arborea. The coastline is grown with psammophilous and halophilous grass vegetation comprising such species as Silene euxinia, Silene thymifolia, Limonium gmerlini, Cakile maritima, Crambe maritima, Euphorbia peplis, E. paralias, Medicago marina, Eryngium maritimum, Astrodaucus litoralis, Otantus maritimus, Lactuca tatarica, etc. In some places there are swampy places and damp meadows along the rivers.

As far as butterflies are concerned, the region has been investigated well enough. The first study belongs to Iltschew (1924). The reasons for the inclusion of the region are: (1) The presence of important populations of 13 of the target species [see a list below], especially Heteropterus morpheus and Lycaena ottomanus, and (2) the presence of important populations of a number of other rare species as Zerynthia cerisy, Kirinia roxelana, Hyponephele lupina, Minois dryas, Hipparchia syriaca.

Target species: Thymelicus acteon, Heteropterus morpheus, Zerynthia polyxena, Parnassius mnemosyne, Lycaena dispar, L. ottomanus, Glaucopsyche alexis, Maculinea arion, Apatura metis, Nymphalis xanthomelas, Euphydryas aurinia, Melitaea trivia, Brenthis hecate.

Typical mixed deciduous forests of Strandzha (Photo: Ivan Kamburov).
Typical mixed deciduous forests of Strandzha

Protection & threats: Strandzha has a number of protected territories as the Silkosia Nature Reserve, which is the first reserve in Bulgaria established in 1933, containing more than 260 plant species; Uzunbodzhak, the largest and most typical biosphere reserve, and three other reserves and eleven protected areas. An extremely serious threat to the conservation of the region is the illegal construction of holiday complexes along the coast and on the territory of the park. Those that have investment interests litigate the order legalising the status of the Strandzha Natural Park, which means that it is highly likely that the territory will lose its reserve status. Another serious threat is the legal (or illegal) deforestation of the region and unregulated construction in the populated areas and those near the coastline.

Other remarks: More than 70 plant species included in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria are found only here. One of the main bird migration routes (Via Pontica) passes through the Strandzha Mountain. Seventeen bird species are included in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria and 1 bird species is included in the Red Data Book of the World. Standzha is a refugium of a number of Tertiary plant species. Its flora is more similar to the Pontic Euxine flora of the Caucasus and the Pontic Mountains than the European flora. As for the butterfly fauna, the inner part of the Strandzha Mountains is dominated by boreal and mesohygrophytic species despite its southern locality and low altitude. Some of the conservationally important moths established in the region are: Lasiocampa grandis, Moma alpium, Acronicta alni, Acronicta cuspis, Acronicta strigosa, Schrankia taenialis, Clytie syriaca, Dysgonia torrida, Euchalcia modestoides, Mycteroplus puniceago, Janthinea friwaldskii, Praestilbia armeniaca, Rileyiana fovea, Calophasia platyptera, Amphipyra stix, Amphipyra micans, Agrotis vestigialis, etc. The species Euplagia quadripunctaria is listed in Annex II of the Habitats Directive 92/43 of the European Union.

Map of Strandzha area
Map of Strandzha area.