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[45] Vrachanski Balkan

Vratsa District
NATURA 2000: Lycaena dispar

Coordinates: 23° 27’ 39’’ E, 43° 10’ 15’’ N — Altitude: 474 m — Area: 36025 ha

Description: The region of the Vrachanski Balkan comprises the Vratsa mountain between the rivers of Ogosta and Iskar to the north-northeast of the river Proboynitsa and rises south of Vratsa Town and the Vratsa field, occupying an intermediate position between the Fore-Balkan and the main Stara Planina range. It is characterised by steep slopes, bare and rugged in some places or covered by landslides and screes, formed basically of limestone. It is a karst region with deep precipices, rock wreaths, isolated karst peaks, caves and galleries. The vegetation consists mainly of bushes and forests of beech, hornbeam, and oak. The forests that had been hewn or burnt down have been replaced by secondary meadows.

As far as butterflies are concerned, the region has been insufficiently investigated. There are some sporadic data published by Buresch & Tuleschkow (1929), Buresch & Popov (1965), Abadjiev (1995, 2001). More data on the butterfly fauna, also insufficient, can be found in Boyan Zlatkov’s paper which is part of the Vrachanski Balkan Natural Park Management Plan (2007). These are data that mainly concern the area of Lakatnik Station and the village of Milanovo. A main reason for the inclusion of the region is the presence of important populations of 9 of the target species [see a list below], including Parnassius apollo. The fact that Lopinga achine was reported from that region is also significant, although the species has not been found there ever after.

Target species: Zerynthia polyxena, Parnassius mnemosyne, P. apollo, Lycaena dispar, Pseudophilotes vicrama, Scolitantides orion, Lopinga achine, Erebia medusa, Neptis sappho.

Lakatnik Rocks — a typical habitat for many calciphilous species (Photo: S. Beshkov, September 2006).
Lakatnik Rocks, a typical habitat for many calciphilous species

Mixed deciduous forests on the slopes of Vrachanski Balkan near Milanovo Village (Photo: S. Beshkov, 29 April 2007).
Mixed deciduous forests on the slopes of Vrachanski Balkan near Milanovo Village

Protection & threats: The region also includes the Vrachanski Balkan Natural Park occupying the larger part of the Vratsa Mountain and the massive rampart of the Lakatnishki Skali. The investment plans for the construction of ski tracks and the accompanying hotel complexes, infrastructure and increased human presence are a serious threat to the preservation of the natural habitats. Another potential threat is the investment plans for the construction of wind turbines and the roads that service them.

Other remarks: More than 700 higher plants have been found in this region. This is approximately 20% of the Bulgarian flora, 56 species of which have been declared as rare or protected from extinction. Of high conservation value are the endemic cave invertebrate fauna and the day predatory birds. From the butterfly fauna there have been found some rare species of conservation importance, such as Saturnia pyri, Lemonia balcanica, Asovia maeoticaria, Idaea spissilimbaria, Schrankia taenialis, Deltote uncula, Calocucullia celsiae, Xylena lunifera, Antitype suda shimae, Gortyna moesiaca, Hadula stigmosa atlantica, Watsonarctia deserta. The species Nola harouni and Polymixis xanthomista have been reported only from the Vrachanski Balkan for Bulgaria.

Map of Vrachanski Balkan area
Map of Vrachanski Balkan area.