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New Year - New Nature Park

New Year - New Nature Park
Jan. 10, 2008
Belasitsa is a relatively unknown mountain in the southwestern part of the country. During the socialist regime the area fell within the former iron curtain border zone and was fenced with barbed wire and public access was restricted. As a result of this, nowadays, unique flora and fauna species have been preserved in the mountain. Approximately 30% of the territory of the mountain falls within the territory of Bulgaria and this is the only Bulgarian mountain, which can be proclaimed as a trilateral transboundary protected area between Bulgaria, Greece and Macedonia. This is a good basis for sustainable development of the region within the joint European future.

The territory of Belasitza mountain is a typical example of a landscape-level ecosystem divided by national borders of 3 countries - Bulgaria, Greece and F.R.O.Y. Macedonia. The mountain also plays the role of climatic border between the Mediterranean and the sub-continental region. The mountain hosts some of the most representative examples of biodiversity in Bulgaria – more than 1200 flora species – 1/3 of the Bulgarian flora, 102 of them with high conservation value. The invertebrate fauna is remarkably rich in species and scientists discover new species, still unknown for the science. Belasitsa mountain also hosts numerous vertebrates – 8 species of amphibians, 15 species of reptiles, 120 bird species and more than 50 mammals.

The centuries old chestnut forests are of conservational interest not only in Bulgaria, but also in Europe.

Why Belasitsa must be protected?
• In order to preserve the natural chestnut forests;
• In order to protect the centuries-old mixed beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) and chestnut (Castanea sativa Mill.) forests;
• Because the mountain protects flora and fauna species threatened by extinction: albainan lily (Lilium albanicum Grsb.), yew (Taxus baccata L.), holly (Ilex aquifolium L.), alfalfa (Medicago carstiensis Jacq. ssp. belassitzae Koz.);
• In order to develop ecotourism and sustainable traditional use of mountain resources;
• To enhance extensive cattle breeding in mountain pasture areas.
• In order to develop multifunctional forestry;
• Transboundary cooperation for sustainable development of the region

The new Nature park (with territory of 11,700 ha), which is a part of the Balkan Green Belt and the Natura 2000 network, will guarantee further protection of the mountain’s natural resources and will also provide new opportunities for the local communities.