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[42] Trigrad

Smolyan District
NATURA 2000: Euphydryas aurinia

Coordinates: 24° 22’ 40’’ E, 41° 36’ 10’’ N — Altitude: 1231 m — Area: 21734 ha

Description: The region is situated in the central part of Western Rhodopi Mountains south of the town of Devin. It has medium and high mountain character and is composed of karst, mainly of marble substrate. The main habitats are forests, rock formations, meadows, and pastures. A large part of the forests are coniferous, composed mainly of Picea abies. Some small territories are occupied by deciduous forests of Fagus moesiaca or by mixed forests of Fagus moesiaca and Ostrya carpinifolia. The region comprises the Buynovo and Trigrad gorges with large rock formations. The rivers of the region are covered by galleries of Alnus glutinosa and Salix mixed with Petasitis. The dank places around rocks and rivers or streams are inhabited by the endemic Haberlea rhodopensis. The lower parts are occupied by single deciduous communities of Sambucus, Corylus avellana, Crataegus monogyna, Tilia, Carpinus, Acer, Fraxinus, Sorbus, and other deciduous species.

The butterflies of the region are studied very well. Investigation results were published by Buresch & Tuleschkow (1929) and Abadjiev (2001). The reason for including the area is the presence of important populations of 14 of the target species [see a list below], especially Carterocephalus palaemon, Parnassius apollo, Pieris ergane and Erebia melas.

Target species: Carterocephalus palaemon, Parnassius mnemosyne, P. apollo, Pieris ergane, Maculinea alcon, M. arion, Plebejus sephirus, Coenonympha rhodopensis, Erebia medusa, E. melas, Limenitis populi, Euphydryas aurinia, Melitaea trivia, Brenthis hecate.

The Trigrad Rocks; habitat of Parnassius apollo, Pieris ergane, Erebia melas (Photo: S. Beshkov, June 2006).
The Trigrad Rocks

Protection & threats: The region is highly influenced by industrial and forestry activities, as well as by the water usage and tourism. The forests are threatened by intensive cutting as well as illegitimate cutting outside the strictly protected areas. This leads to changes in the qualities and functions of the forest ecosystems. It also disrupts the natural water balance of the whole region and gives rise to erosion and landslide processes, sometimes causing great damages. Because of its world famous attractions, the region is one of the favourate tourist places in the Western Rhodopi Mountains, including mountain climbing and cave tourism. Dangerous for the region can be the uncontrolled construction of untraditional monolithic buildings as many-star hotel complexes, water catchment systems for small hydropower plants and the increased human presence. The construction of small hydropower plants has started already. As a protection measure we recommend that the Western Rhodopi are proclaimed a transboundary park (as was proposed some years ago) and the acception of a strategy for the sustainable development of the region.

Other remarks: In 2005 the territory was declared an area of ornithological importance by BirdLife International. It was proclaimed a CORINE area in 1989 due to its European importance for the preservation of rare and endangered localities, plants and animals. There have been established many butterfly and moth species of conservation importance such as: Hyles vespertilio, Saturnia pyri, Lycaena virgaureae, Lycaena candens, Plebeius eumedon, Polyommatus escheri, Polyommatus nephohiptamenos, Polyommatus orphicus, Erebiia ottomana, Charissa certhiatus, Horysme calligraphata, Idaea metohiensis, Ctenoplusia accentifera, Caradrina suscianja, Apamea rubrirena, Hadena vulcanica urumovi, Hadena drenowskii drenowskii, Standfussiana lucernea illyrica, Epipsilia grisescens, Euxoa conspicia, Chelis maculosa, Phragmatobia placida, Euplagia quadripunctaria, etc. The species Euplagia quadripunctaria was listed in Annex II of the Habitats Directive of the European Union.

Map of Trigrad area
Map of Trigrad area.