WWF protects the old forests – the home of wild animals in Bulgaria | Environment
Everyone can help by joining the “Common Home” campaign. Common’ future
Bulgaria is one of the few European countries in which there are still vast territories with centuries-old forests. The area of these forests in our country, little influenced by human intervention, with functioning natural ecosystems, connected with biocorridors and diverse flora and fauna amounts to 150,000 – 200,000 hectares. This is about 4-5% of all forests in the country, compared to an average of 1% in Europe. This unique fact is of great importance for Bulgaria in its efforts to preserve its priceless biological diversity. But the way to this goes precisely through the encirclement of old forests – the home of wild animals.
A team of WWF specialists has been actively working in this direction for years. As a result, the combined efforts of the non-governmental sector and the Commission led to the designation of 110 thousand hectares of state forests as “old age forests” in the ecological network “Natura 2000” in 2016. After the mapping of these forests by WWF and the active working with the local authorities, a number of Bulgarian municipalities liked the idea and also announced the protected old forests on their territory. Today Botevgrad, Sevlievo, Kyustendil, Harmanli, Veliko Tarnovo, Tryavna, Gorna Malina, Pirdop and Zlatitsa together guard over 1150 hectares of old forests.
“Old-growth forests are a natural reservoir of genetic material and a zone of tranquility for many species, which exists in direct dependence on forest ecosystems. The main threat to old forests is logging, which leads to rapid rejuvenation, drastically changes their characteristics and leads to the disappearance of many of their inhabitants. This is a large number of protected species that cannot be found in managed forests, such as for example the grouse, the white-backed and three-toed woodpecker, the pinnate cuckoo, the alpine rosalia beetle and various species of bats. In addition, human intervention in old forests leads to disruption of their water protection and anti-erosion functions”, says Nelly Doncheva, chief expert in WWF’s “Forests” program.
Which forests are old and why are they important to us?
The old forests are one of the last corners of wild nature that are little influenced by man. In addition to being home to amazing biodiversity, they protect water, prevent erosion and flooding, purify the air and enrich the soil, which is why they are of great importance both to people and to sustaining the environment in the face of climate change.
In the old forests, the long trees reach the limit value for their age and acquire majestic dimensions of more than 40-50 m in height and 1-2 m in thickness, dying without being cut down. The formation of these forests in our country takes approximately between 160 and 230 years. They are also shown by the presence of a tree with withered, deformed or broken tops and branches, trees with hollows, existing and fallen large dead trees that are in various stages of decay.
Today, the old forests in our country are mostly concentrated in places where access is still limited due to the steep topography or the lack of roads. They can be seen mainly in the reserves, in the national parks and in the more inaccessible highland areas and watersheds of the Rhodopes, Stara Planina, Rila, Pirin and Strandzha. In order to continue to provide their vital ecosystem services, urgent measures are needed to protect them.
This is one of the most important missions of WWF in Bulgaria. In recent years, the nature protection organization has carried out surveys on the territory of 62 municipalities across the country and established maps of nearly 8,200 hectares of old forests.
Everyone can become part of WWF’s cause to protect the home of wild animals in Bulgaria, by joining the campaign Shared home. A common future. See how on wwf.bg/koleda.