Besaparski ridove SPA



The Besaparski Hills are located at the South West end of the Thracian plain near by the town of Pazardzhik, in the foothills of the Rhodopes Mountain. It includes the low ridges and the adjacent open areas, reaching the road to Peshtera to the west and the Vucha river to the east. Its northern limit is the Maritza river and its southern passes through the grounds of the villages of Radilovo, Byaga, Kozarskoto and reaches the town of Krichim. The area includes also the fishponds next to the village of Trivoditsi. Besaparski Hills are limestone treeless hills. The average altitude is 350 m and maximum 536 m. About 90% of the area is occupied by dry calciphile and xerophyte grass associations and farmlands, as well as temperate shrub heath land. The most widespread grassland communities on the territory of Besaparski Hills are these of the Bread-grass Dichantium ischaemum due to the fact that the species is very resistant to grazing, trampling and especially erosion. There are isolated spots of broadleaved and mixed forests. Shrubs and low trees occupy a small share of the territory. Besaparski Hills represents calcareous hills with a characteristic flora, which defines their importance as refugia of rare, endemic and relict species. A local endemic species, Gypsophila tekirae, occurs on the ridges. Of the mammals the Souslik Spermophillus citellus deserves special attention, as it is the main prey of the diurnal raptors, some of which are very rare and threatened.

Birds in the protected area

The Besaparski Hills supports 86 breeding bird species, 20 of which are listed in the Red Data Book for Bulgaria. Of the birds occurring there 43 species are of European conservation concern (SPEC), 2 of them being listed in category SPEC 1 as globally threatened, 12 in SPEC 2 and 29 in SPEC 3 as species threatened in Europe. The area provides suitable habitats for 25 species, included in Annex 2 of the Biodiversity Act, which need special conservation measures, of which 22 are listed also in Annex I of the Birds Directive. Besaparski Hills are of global importance for the for the conservation of globally threatened Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca and one of the most valuable sites for the statistical regions of the European Union concerning the breeding Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris, Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus, and Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra.

The Saker Falcon Falco cherrug used to breed in the SPA until 2007. During the last years breeding is not confirmed although the species is regularly observed in the SPA. Targeted studies also confirm regular presence of Saker Falcons on migration and during breeding season in the SPA in the period 2009 - 2013. The Besaparski Hills SPA is one of the most suitable and important areas for the Saker Falcon in Thracian plain.

As the area is rich of food it holds also significant breeding populations of other raptors as Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina, Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus, Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos, Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus, etc. Species typical for the dry grasslands also breed there in representative numbers - the Stone Curlew Burchinus oedicnemus, the Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydatyla, etc.

Threats to the protected area

  • Disturbance
    Disturbance of birds is caused by gliding and hang-gliding and off road traffic of motor vehicles.
  • Human activities
    Major problem which causes deterioration and loss of valuable habitats, is the continuous conversion of the pastures and meadows into vineyards and arable land.
  • Poaching
    Direct threats to birds are caused by poaching (taking chicks and eggs from the nests, shooting of raptors).