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Protected territories

 The places of the greatest significance for preserving the wilderness are declared protected territory, where human activity is limited, that being regulated with the Law of Protected Territories. According to that law, the following categories of protected territory are defined for Bulgaria:

  • reserve - in the Eastern Rhodope there is only one strict reserve, unique natural ecosystems are preserved that include characteristic and remarkable wild plant and animal species. No activity is allowed in the reserves except guarding them. Visits with a scientific purpose are made after permission is granted by the Ministry of the Environment and Waters.


  • national park - protected territories not containing any settlements or settlement formations and which include natural ecosystems with a great variety of plant and animal species and habitats with characteristic and remarkable landscapes and objects of non-living nature.


  • natural landmark - Characteristic or remarkable objects of non-living nature, such as rock forms, caves, waterfalls, fossil sites, sand dunes etc., are pronounced to be natural landmarks. There are 63 natural landmarks in the Eastern Rhodopes.


  • maintained reserve - in maintained reservations ecosystems are preserved that contain rare and endangered plant and animal species and their habitats. Aiming at the resuscitation of populations of plant and animal species and the conditions in their habitats, in these reservations maintaining, controlling, regulating, and restoring measures are being carried out. There are 4 maintained reserves in the Eastern Rhodopes.


  • natural park - include various ecosystems with a great variety of plant and animal species and their habitats as well as remarkable landscapes and objects of non-living nature.  In contrast to national parks, within their boundaries settlements, settlement formations and resorts may be present; also any production or activity not polluting the environment may be undertaken.


  • protected site - territories with characteristic or remarkable landscapes are declared to be protected sites, also the habitats of plant and animal species and communities which are threatened with extinction, rare, or vulnerable. In protected territories, activities contradicting the requirements of preserving specific sites because of which they were established are forbidden. The number of the protected sites in the Eastern Rhodope is 18.

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