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Natura 2000 site Harmanliyska Reka


Surface – 4 889 hectares.

Harmanliyska Reka covers a hilly area along the lower stream of the Harmanliyska river west from the town of Harmanli. To the north it borders to the main road E80, and to the west the site limit goes through the villages of Bryagovo and Ropdopi. The site`s limits reach the village of Ostar kamak to the south. In this part of its course the river forms a deep rocky gorge with vertical cliffs, surrounded by pastures, broadleaved forests and shrubs. The forests composed mainly of oak Quercus cerris and oriental hornbeam Carpinus orientalis with the participation of Mediterranean elements. The open areas are occupied by xerothermal grass formations and ephemeral species. The pastures are interspersed with shrubs of Christ’s thorn and single trees. Part of the site has recently been affected by a big fire, which has changed the state of the oak forests. Currently they are undergoing coppice regeneration and form huge territories of shrubby habitats. Two types of riverine associations occur along the Harmanliyska river – Riverine willow formations Salix spp. and mixed elm–alder groups along the rivers Fraxinus excelsior – Alnus glutinosa.

The region of Harmaliyska Reka supports 149 bird species. Of the birds occurring there 35 species are of European conservation concern (SPEC), one of them being listed in category SPEC 1 as globally threatened, 20 in SPEC 2 and 42 in SPEC 3 as species threatened in Europe. The area provides suitable habitats for 45 species, included in Annex 2 of the Biodiversity Act, which need special conservation measures, of which 41 are listed also in Annex I of the Birds Directive. The site is one of the most important places in the country on European Union scale for the conservation of the Olive-tree Warbler and the Calandra Lark, which breed there in considerable numbers. The Great Short-toed Lark also breeds there in significant numbers.

More than 25% of the site’s territory is in the protected site “Defileto”. In 2005 the region was designated as Important Bird Area by BirdLife International. The IBA is approved as SPA under Bird Directive.

The area of Harmanliyska Reka is used extensively by local people mainly for livestock and to less extend for agriculture and forestry. It is sensitive to intensification of agriculture and forestry, as well as change of land use practices. Reduction in grazing following by succession, as well as conversion of pastures to arable lands cause loss of grassland habitats for birds (Calandra Lark, Short-toed Lark, Corn Bunting) and the Souslik. During the dry years large parts of the site are burned by fires. The forests in Harmanliyska Reka are relatively small patches dispersed amongst open landscapes and along the river. Illegal cutting of trees and firewood collection degrade the quality of forest habitats.



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