baumzaehlen - Primeval Forests & Their Trees

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Rila Monastery Forest Reserve, Bulgaria


The reserve is a part of Rila Monastery Nature Park that is adjacent to Rila National Park (see Opens internal link in current windowParangalitsa Strict Nature Reserve). The reserve covers 37 km2 of which 9.5 km2 is virgin forest1. It is located on south and north-facing steep to very steep slopes of the west-east orientated Rila Valley at elevations of 1100–2750 m. The valley bottom is not included, so the reserve is in two separate parts. Mean annual temperature is about 3–5.5°C and annual precipitation about 950–1050 mm 1. Granite is the most extensive base rock1. Soil fertility is high1.


At lower elevations, the most important tree species are Opens internal link in current windowFagus sylvatica (European beech), Opens internal link in current windowAbies alba (European silver fir) and Opens internal link in current windowPicea abies (Norway spruce) on the north-facing slope and Opens internal link in current windowPinus sylvestris (Scots pine) on the south-facing slope. Towards the timberline, the forest is mostly composed by P. abies, Opens internal link in current windowPinus peuce (Macedonian pine) and P. sylvestris. Above the timberline, there are Pinus mugo (dwarf mountain pine) thickets, which are not included in the figure of 9.5 km2 of virgin forest (see above).1


The reserve is difficult to visit. In addition to the steep slopes, few marked trails cross only short sections of the reserve.




1       Popov, E. B. et al. (2005): Virgin Forests of Bulgaria. Royal Dutch Society for Nature Conservation Bulgarian Forest Research Institute.


Official site:

North-facing slope on the left, south-facing slope on the right. Betula pendula (silver birch, foreground), Pinus peuce (Macedonian pine, the trees behind B. pendula), Abies alba (European silver fir, left between P. peuce trees).
Foreground (south-facing slope): Acer platanoides (Norway maple, extreme left), Abies alba (European silver fir, left and centre), Fagus sylvatica (European beech, left), Pinus peuce (Macedonian pine, right) and Betula pendula (silver birch, right). Background (north-facing slope) mostly Picea abies (Norway spruce), A. alba and B. pendula.
North-facing slope. Betula pendula (silver birch, broadleaf trees), Pinus peuce (Macedonian pine, conifers with light green crowns), Picea abies (Norway spruce, medium green crowns), Abies alba (European silver fir, dark green crowns).