The Balkan mixed forests cover much of Bulgaria and bordering countries, excluding the Rodope Mountains. The vegetation of this ecoregion, especially that of the forests and grasslands, is Central European in character. The diversity of flora and fauna is relatively high compared to the rest of Europe and there are a high number of endemic plant species. Mixed oak forests are characteristic, with Quercus frainetto as the dominant tree species. Oak forests are interspersed with pine, silver fir (Abies alba) and Norway spruce (Picea abies) forests, woodland-pastures, shiblyak and grasslands (Ozenda 1994). High valleys and sheltered slopes feature forests dominated by beech (Fagus sylvatica) and hornbeam (Carpinus orientalis and C. betulus). The region’s herpetofauna is among the most diverse in Europe. The ecoregion has a good network of protected areas; however, the changing political climate threatens them with fragmentation.
Location and General Description
Types and Severity of Threats
Justification of Ecoregion Delineation
This ecoregion is almost equivalent to the DMEER (DMEER 2000) unit of the same name. The ecoregion predominantly corresponds with Bohn et al.’s (2000) sub-Mediterranean-subcontinental thermophilous bitter oak forests and sub-Mediterranean and meso-supra-Mediterranean downy oak forests. The ecoregion does not include the upland vegetation of the Rhodope Mountains (Rhodope montane mixed forests ecoregion) or the sub-Mediterranean and meso-supra-Mediterranean downy oak forests and meso- to thermo-Mediterranean pine forests to the south of the Rhodopes (part of the Aegean & West Turkey sclerophyllous and mixed forest ecoregion).
Bohn, Udo, Gisela Gollub, and Christoph Hettwer. 2000. Reduced general map of the natural vegetation of Europe. 1:10 million. Bonn-Bad Godesberg 2000.
Davis, S.D., V.H. Heywood, and A.C. Hamilton. 1994. Centres of plant diversity. Vol. 1: Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia and Middle East. WWF and IUCN, Washington DC.
Digital Map of European Ecological Regions (DMEER), Version 2000/05
Heath, M.F., and M.I. Evans, editors. 2000. Important bird areas in Europe: Priority sites for conservation. 2 vols. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.
IUCN 2000: The Global Redlist of Species, of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. URL: <http://www.redlist.org>
Ozenda, P. 1994. Végétation du Continent Européen. Delachaux et Niestlé: Lausanne, Switzerland.
Wheatley, N. 2000. Where to watch birds in Europe and Russia. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.