The Rodope Montane Mixed Forests Ecoregion is composed of the Balkan (Stara Planina) and Rhodope Massifs in the central Balkan Peninsula. Central European in character, mixed deciduous forests (Fagus sylvatica, Carpinus orientalis, C. betula, Quercus spp.) grow on mountain slopes while the higher elevations are dominated by conifers (Abies alba, Picea albies, Pinus nigra). On the highest peaks, forests are replaced by heaths and alpine grasslands. It is estimated that the flora of the region includes about 3,000 vascular plant species. Many are endemics from the Pleistocene glaciation, as the region served as a refuge for species that never re-established to the north. The position of the ecoregion at the crossroads of several floristic elements (European, Alpine, and Mediterranean) also enhances floral diversity . Several of Europe’s threatened fauna species are found here such as otter (Lutra lutra), pine marten (Martes martes), imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca), cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus), and ferruginous duck (Aytha nyroca). Although there is a good network of protected areas, the ecoregion faces many threats from the changing political climate, expanding agriculture, and increasing tourism.
Location and General Description
Types and Severity of Threats
Justification of Ecoregion Delineation
This ecoregion is equivalent to the DMEER (2000) unit of the same name. It includes the lowland to altimontane beech and mixed beech forests, montane to altimontane, partly submontane fir and spruce forests, and montane to altimontane hemiboreal and nemoral pine forests of the Balkan and Rodope mountains of Bulgaria and Greece (Bohn et al. 2000).
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