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03.06.2015

Оld forests

                   CENTURY-OLD FORESTS IN STRANDJA NATURE PARK CHARACTERISTICS AND PERSPECTIVES

 

                                                                             Engineer Diko Patronov, PhD

 

                                                                                      SUMMARY

 

The present review of the century-old forests in Strandja Nature Park targeted the forests in Forestry Enterprises (FE) Malko Tarnovo, Zvezdets, Kosti, part of Tsarevo /16,907 hectares/ and Hunting Preserve (HP) Gramatikovo, which are located on its territory. When the park was set up with ordinance PD 30/24.01.1995 its total area was 116,136 hectares of which 83,072.9 hectares were forests. Under the forest management in 1996/98 and 2006/2008 the wooded area increased to 90,513 hectares. The increase of the forest area is not due to the addition of new land to the park, but it is a result from new forests from the former ameliorative fund and other lands, which were naturally wooded and registered as forests.

Forest Management Projects (FMP) of the forestry enterprises were used to do the review, field research on targeted routes were conducted in 2012 and published materials were used.

      

PRESENCE OF MAIN TREE SPECIES IN THE FORESTS OF STRANDJA NATURE PARK

 

The review of the century-old forests in Strandja Nature Park by wood species, structure, presentability, direction of economic influence and authenticity was done in sub-sections and sections from the last Forest Management Projects of the Forestry Enterprises.

In the review the terms 'century-old' and 'old' forests will be used with equal meaning, referring to forests over 100 years of age.

The main tree species in the forests of Strandja Nature Park, based on the data from the last two forest managements, is presented in the following table:

 

                 Tree species                  1998           2008           Difference

 

                 Fagus orientalis             18.5%         15.7%         - 2.8%

                 Quercus polycarpa                 31.3%         28.0%         - 3.3%

                 Quercus frainetto          29.4%         32.1%         + 2.7%

                 Quercus cerris               7.5%           10.4%         + 2.9%

                 Carpinus betulus           1.8%           2.1%           + 0.3%

                 Carpinus orientalis                 2.2%           3.8%           + 1.6%

                Conifers                        7.9%           6.4%           - 1.5%

 

The stated above reasons for the increase of the forest area after Strandja Nature Park was set up have actually primarily led to the changes in the ratio of tree species between the two forest managements. Low-grade forests and rocky areas with Quercus frainetto and Quercus cerris prevail in the added lands, as a result of which the numbers of the Quercus frainetto, Quercus cerris, Carpinus betulus and Carpinus orientalis may have increased at the expense of the Fagus orientalis and Quercus polycarpa. The reduction of the areas covered by the Fagus orientalis and Quercus polycarpa, which are the face of Strandja, is troubling and must be monitored during the subsequent measurements of the forests in the Park.

The change in the participation of coniferous tree species confirms the forecasts, guidelines and actions in the management of coniferous plantations, for gradual natural and targeted replacement with native trees and rehabilitation of root communities. These forestry activities will influence the future participation of tree and shrub species and the value of the forest.   

The summarized data from the measurements of the forests shows that Fagus orientalis covers an area of 13,400 hectares, Quercus polycarpa – 23,500 hectares, Quercus frainetto – 27,400 hectares, Quercus cerris – 8800 hectares, Carpinus betulus – 1800 hectares and Carpinus orientalis – 3,200 hectares in mono-dominant and mixed tree groups.

Quercus hartwissiana participates on its own, or in small groups in mixed tree groups and is rare as a dominant species; the stated areas in the FMP are about 3,000 hectares. Knowing the forests in the mountains, we think that in reality the participation of the Quercus hartwissiana is only indicated in FE Zvezdets and in the State Hunting Preserve (SHP) Gramatikovo – for the territory of FE M. Tarnovo it is not indicated at all, probably due the designers’ lack of knowledge.

Relict species important for the prestige of the Strandja Nature Park is the Vaccinium arctostaphylos  –  the only presented habitat of a forest of Fagus orientalis with Vaccinium arctostaphylos for all European forests is in Strandja. Probably due to lack of knowledge of the species, both with previous Forestry Managements and with the last one, the indicated habitats of the Vaccinium arctostaphylos are insignificant and fragmented.

Based on the recent data that we collected during route surveys with the participation of experts from the Park and the forestry, the Fagus orientalis trees with undergrowth of Vaccinium arctostaphylos which we listed cover about 250 hectares in FE M. Tarnovo, Kosti and Gramatikovo.

Based on the studies conducted in the past and from the stated data in FMP on the total area which is covered by Rhododendron ponticum, regardless of the extent of coverage under the canopy, it can be stated that it is present on the territory of about 11,350 hectares. The forests with Common Rhododendron, included for strict protection, are in the reserves Uzunbuzhak – 1,400 hectares, Silkosiya – 270 hectares and Tisovitsa – 200 hectares. Outside the territories of the reserves, the Common Rhododendron takes part in the canopy of forests of Fagus orientalis and Quercus polycarpa on an area of about 9,000 hectares.

 

       CHARACTERISTIC OF THE CENTURY-OLD FORESTS OVER 100 YEARS OF AGE

 

All plantations with main tree groups over 100 years of age were marked as old forests; and as forests with dominant trees – where there are trees with age over 100. The outcome is one too optimistic list of over 4,300 plantations with a total area of century-old forests of over 27,000 hectares and of dominant trees – 6,800 hectares in young forests at different age and in thin-outs of Carpinus orientalis.

In all analyses later on there will be data on the old forests in the Forest Enterprises from FMP 2006-2008 in sub-sections – for the dominant tree species, for areas listed for felling in the decade and subdivided by density – under 05, 06 and over 07. For the last /over 07/ we accept that the forests are with regular density and genuineness.

 

                  Old forests in Strandja Nature Park by tree species

Tree species                                                   area                             provided

                                                           hectares             %        for use               %

       Fagus orientalis                          5760                21           1700                     30

       Quercus polycarpa                     6230                23           3560                     57

       Quercus frainetto, Quercus cerris 15300            56           6900                     45

       Carpinus betulus                          70                    -                10                     12

       Fraxinus angustifolia                  10                    -                 -                         -

 

Current areas of old forests show an increase of about 6,000 hectares in relation to FMP since forest managements in  1996-1998. In interpreting this finding the explanation must be sought both in the increased area of the forest fund and the forests which passed the class of 80-100 years of age.  The accuracy of this supposition is evident from the dozens of sections in massifs of forests at 100-110 years of age and which are of sprouting origin. Their connection to the high-stem forest in 70s and 80s was not sufficiently justified. They will be referred to and discussed separately.

Looking at the reports of the old forests by tree species it should definitely be pointed that habitats which are significant for Europe forests of Fagus orientalis with undergrowth of Colchis bushes are not dominant on the territory of Strandja Nature Park,  and in inner Strandjatheir presence is only 21%. United with Quercus polycarpa old forests in the localities where they dominate take an area of 44%.

 

                                                                                                                                     91SO. Western Pontic Beech forests

 

The forests of Fagus orientalis are concentrated in two localities – to the east of the line Slivarovo – Gramatikovo and in the higher part of Strandja. This grouping of the habitats in fact differentiates both sub-types of the forests of Fagus orientalis of Strandja with European importance and priority, with undergrowth of Rhododendron ponticum, and other laurel bushes, and with undergrowth of Vaccinium arctostaphylos and other laurel bushes.

 

Distribution of the old Fagus orientalis forests by density and use total

       Density                          area                             marked

                                      hectares          %            for felling           %

       Under 05                 1270             22                  380                 30

            06                       1330             23                  360                 27

       Over 07                   3160             55                  970                 31

 

The table shows that the majority of old forests are with a high degree of preservation - with normal density. However, what is disturbing is the high rate of activation of these forests, which in the forest enterprises is not explicit.

 

                 The old Fagus orientalis forests in Strandja Nature Park

       Density                               Forest Enterprises /Hunting preserves

                          Zvezdets        M. Tarnovo  Gramatikovo Kosti    Tsarevo

       Under 05

       Area              100                      230               530              340              70

       for felling     40                       140                70               130               -             

          06

       Area               110                      380               560              220              70 

       for felling       20                        220                60                60                -

       Over 07

       Area                        350                     1120             1020             340             340   

       for felling        0                          590              190               50               20

       Total

       Area               560                      1730             2110            900              480

       for felling      180                       950               320             240               20

           %                32                         55                 15               27                 4 

 

Impressive is the fact that in Forest Enterprise M.Tarnovo the old Fagus orientalis forests are activated for regeneration felling at 55%, while in the State Hunting Reserve Gramatikovo the regeneration felling is only 15%. As the analyses of the other forests show, in the range of State Hunting Preserve Gramatikovo a largely sparing regime for area clearing of old forests is introduced, through labeling large areas as “inaccessible forests” and “forests for the peace and quiet of the game”.

Depending on the presence and type of the Colchis shrub undergrowth in the Fagus orientalis forests, they are grouped as follows:

       - with Rhododendron ponticum and other Pont euxeinos bushes;

       - with Vaccinium arctostaphylos and other Pont euxeinos bushes;                        

       - with Daphne mezereum and other Pont euxeinos bushes;

 

  1. Strandja forests with Fagus orientalis with Rhododendron ponticum

 

These forests are the face of Strandja. They are the reason which has led to the care for the preservation of the forests in Strandja from 80 years ago by setting up unique reserves and Strandja Nature Park, in order to permanently preserve the nature and natural primeval forests.

 

Century-old Fagus orientalis forests with Rhododendron ponticum

       Density                          Forest Enterprise/Hunting preserve

                           Zvezdets     M. Tarnovo  Gramatikovo  Kosti     Tsarevo

       Under 05

       Area, hectares    -                  30                    50              270           60

       for felling           -                  30                     -               120             -

          06

       Area, hectares     -                  40                  100              150          50

for felling            -                  10                    -                  40           -

Over 07

Area, hectares    -                  90                  200              250          220   

for felling            -                 70                    10                30             -

Total

Area, hectares    -                 160                 350              670          330

for felling           -                 110                  10               190            -

    %                   -                  69                   3                  28            -

 

The total area of Fagus orientalis forests over 100 years of age with undergrowth of Rhododendron ponticum covers 1,510 hectares, from which 310 hectares are activated for felling in the decade i.e. 21%.

The mono-dominant Fagus orientalis forests with Rhododendron ponticum are located in the deep and wet dingles. High on the slopes the communities are most often mixed with Quercus polycarpa and on the ridges, dominated by it, they pass through mixed Quercus polycarpa forests to mono-dominant Quercus polycarpa forests thinned out by undergrowth of Rhododendron ponticum.

The following table indicates the communities dominated by Quercus polycarpa old forests with undergrowth of Rhododendron ponticum by forest enterprises.

 

 

Century-old Quercus polycarpa forests with Rhododendron ponticum      

Density                          Forest Enterprise/Hunting preserve

       Area, hectares  Zvezdets    M. Tarnovo     Gramatikovo      Kosti   Tsarevo

       Under 05

       Area                   -                    60                       20               180            -

       for felling            -                   20                       20                130            -

           06

       Area                    -                   20                        -                 100          40  

       for felling            -                   20                        -                   70           -

       Over 07

       Area                    -                   90                       50               220         300

       for felling             -                  40                        30              100            -

       Total

       Area                    -                  170                      70               500         340

       for felling            -                   80                       50               300           -

          %                     -                   47                       71                 60           -

 

It is clear that the majority of the area of the century-old Quercus polycarpa forests with Rhododendron ponticum is activated for felling, apart from the forests in FE Tsarevo. Because of the better accessibility, they are technologically better for logging and, as it will be seen later, that is also the case with all Quercus polycarpa forests.

      

United, the old forests, dominated by Fagus orientalis and Quercus polycarpa, and in different ratios of the mixture of undergrowth of Rhododendron ponticum, Prunus laurocerasus (cherry laurel) and Ilex colhica, have the highest environmental and recreational value in the park. Their total area reaches 2,600 hectares, which is only 2.8% of the total wooded area of Strandja park.  Yet 28% of these old forests are activated for felling!

 

               Century-old forests of Fagus orientalis and Quercus polycarpa with Rhododendron ponticum

                 Density            area                    planned        

                                 hectares   %      for felling        %

                

                 Under 05           670         26           320              48

                    06                  500         19           140              28

                 Over 07           1430         55           270              19       

 

                 Total                2600       100          730              28

 

Amidst the Strandja forests, 1430 hectares of Fagus orientalis and Quercus polycarpa old forests with undergrowth of Rhododendron ponticum have a high level of authenticity of indigenousness and preservation until  2008. This area is only 1.6% from the wooded area of Strandja Nature Park and from it 19 % is activated for felling!

It is not difficult to state that the activation for felling of old forests with Rhododendron ponticum must be excluded from the plans for use.

 

Fagus orientalis forests with undergrowth of Rhododendron ponticum bear the marks of Pont-Euxeinos flora with evergreen shrubs of Daphne mezereum (February daphne), Prunus laurocerasus, Ilex colhica and Vaccinium arctostaphylos scattered among them. Such are most of the century-old Fagus orientalis forests – over 3,100 hectares, which are fragmented on the whole territory of the park from Tsarskovo kladenche to Arabadzhabair.

 

 

  1. Strandja forests of Fagus orientalis with Vaccinium arctostaphylos

 

The fieldwork we conducted with the specialists from the Park and from M. Tarnovo, Kosti and Gramatikovo forest enterprises, confirmed our conviction of sufficiently wide representation of this habitat in Strandja, even though the data in the FMP was scarce.

 

 

 

          Fagus orientalis forests with Vaccinium  arctostaphylos by Forest Enterprises

         Indicators                   Forest Enterprise/Hunting preserve

  1. Tarnovo         Gramatikovo     Kosti

 

       Sections                 61,62,63,71,224,225     306,308,310       215

                                       253,257,260,261,             218

                                         190,191,192

 

       Area, hectares                  183.8                       30.3              15.4       

 

       The total area of the Fagus orientalis habitat with Vaccinium  arctostaphylos reached 229.5 hectares, from which 51 hectares /22%/ are disorganized or modified coniferous plantations.

It was determined that the old Fagus orientalis forests with Vaccinium  arctostaphylos cover the area of  118.9 hectares, as 64.5 hectares of them are planned for felling – 54%!

There is no set purpose in that – simply these forests have not been listed by the appraisers in the FMP of Forest Enterprise M. Tarnovo as Fagus orientalis forests with Vaccinium  arctostaphylos.

 

 

                 91MO Pannonian-Balkan forests of Quercus cerris and Quercus polycarpa

 

  1. Century-old forests of Quercus polycarpa

 

Quercus polycarpa forests cover a larger area than the Fagus orientalis ones, they are represented by more forests over 100 years of age. As indicated in the following table almost half of the old Quercus polycarpa forests that still remain today are located in FE M. Tarnovo.

 

 

             Century-old Quercus polycarpa forests in Strandja Nature Park

       Density                                Forest Enterprise/Hunting preserve

                               Zvezdets     M. Tarnovo   Gramatikovo   Kosti   Tsarevo

 

       Under 05

       Area, hectares     120             650                        380            325          30

       for felling             70              340                        320            230         15

           06

       Area, hectares     125             765                        260            250          60

       for felling             90              500                       165            135            -

       Over  07

       Area, hectares     115            1605                        615           570         360

       for felling              25            1030                        380            270          10

       Total

       Area, hectares     360            3020                      1255          1145        450  

       for felling           185            1870                        865            635          25

           %                      51              62                            69              55           6

 

      

 

       Distribution of the old forests of Quercus polycarpa by density and area - total

       Density                    Area, hectares   Planned

                                           Total                 for felling      %

 

       Under 05                    1505                   975                65                       

           06                             1460                  890                61

       Over 07                       3275                 1715               52

 

       Total                            6230                 3580               57 

       % of FF                       6,9

 

 

Are the areas covered by old forests of Quercus polycarpa large?

We must be careful, especially for the forests with high density, because with this forest management dozens of sections with 100-110-year-old forests joined the list. Most of them are of sprouting origin, mono-dominant or simple in construction forests from abandoned clearing chains after the Balkan wars. They were transferred to the high-stem ones without clear motivation in the 70s and 80s.

 

 

Massifs of Quercus polycarpa – 100-110 years of age from clearing chains of sprouting origin

       Forest Enterprise/Hunting preserve                     Sections

 

       Gramatikovo                                          165, 166,167; 188-202;

       Kosti                                             116,117,118; 120,121,122;131-133;

Tsarevo                                            409,410,412;415,418,430,435;

  1. Tarnovo                    198,199,200; 205,206,207...

 

The indicated as high-stem forests of sprouting origin must be clearly distinguished from the old forests of different ages, so that they do not shape the outlook and imitate the old indigenous forests in the decades to come.

Slowing the rate of conversion of forests of sprouting origin also leads to the invasion of such forests in the category of old forests of more than 100 years of age.

 

        

  1. THERMOPHILIC Quercus frainetto AND QuercUS cerris FORESTS IN STRANDJA

 

We had to distinguish the pure Quercus frainetto forests and the ones mixed with Querceta cerris and other deciduous trees out of the old ‘oak’ forest of over 100 years of age. They predominate mainly in the western part of Strandja Nature Park. From east to west in the interior of Strandja there is a tendency of drying of the climatic characteristics, as a result of the annual decrease of precipitation and continental influence.

In the oak economic categories by FMP, Quercus frainetto and Quercus polycarpa have always been grouped together and that is how the use of the category is determined.

The participation of the Quercus polycarpa and Querceta cerris in the old forests of Strandja is enormous in terms of area and their individual discussion is significant for the future of the habitat of Quercus polycarpa, and what is more, for the priority, protected and significant for Europe forests of Strandja.

 

       Old Quercus frainetto and Querceta cerris forests by Forest Enterprises in Strandja Nature Park

       Density                               Forest Enterprise/Hunting preserve                    

                                Zvezdets   M. Tarnovo  Gramatikovo    Kosti    Tsarevo

       Under 05

       Area,hectares      3880          580                   1835                290         25

       for felling           1660          340                     675                 135          -

           06

       Area,hectares      1865          480                   1180                400         15

       for felling            835           320                    495                 210          -

       Over 07

       Area,hectares      2070          735                    1670                225         35 

       for felling            955           550                     595                 105          5

       Total

       Area,hectares      7815         1795                   4685                915        75 

       for felling            3450          1210                   1765                450         5

           %                      44             67                        38                  49          7

 

 

                 Old Quercus frainetto and Querceta cerris forests in total in Strandja Nature Park

                 Density                   area, hectares       planned

                                                 total                    for felling        %

 

                 Under 05                6610                    2810                 43

                     06                       3940                    1860                 47

                 Over 07                  4735                    2210                 47

 

                 Total                     15285                   6880                  45

                 % from FF              17

 

The old Quercus frainetto and Quercus cerris forests cover 17% of the planted area of the Park, while the forests of Fagus orientalis and Quercus polycarpa, which are of European importance, together cover 13% - Fagus orientalis - 6% and Quercus polycarpa – 7%!

For many objective reasons, the first of which is the inaccessibility and poor infrastructure, as well as poor market value of Quercus cerris timber, vast regions in SHP Gramatikovo /over 50 sections/ from Byala voda to Zabernovo and in FE Zvezdets, with all indigenous Quercus frainetto and Quercus cerris forests, have been left without planned use in the last decades. The poor market value of the large Quercus cerris timber is a problem, which hasn’t been solved for decades.

This does not mean that there should be a dangerous increase in the numbers of Quercus cerris and Quercus frainetto in the forests in Strandja.

However, the accessible Quercus polycarpa, Quercus frainetto and oak forests from the rest of the Park were subject to logging and were renewed.

 

                            OLD FORESTS WITH Quercus hartwissiana

 

The right way to raise the issue is as follows – not old forests of Quercus hartwissiana, but old forests with Quercus hartwissiana. The listed and planned in the FMP forests with prevailing numbers of the Quercus hartwissiana, or with 3-4 tenths, are a few. The Quercus hartwissiana is mono-dominant species over communities which occupy small areas and tends not to separate into small subsections - in 1-2 ha of natural populations, which thins out its presence in the forests.

 

 

                 Old forests with Quercus hartwissiana on the territory of Strandja Nature Park

       Density                         Forest Enterprise/Hunting preserve

                            Zvezdets    M. Tarnovo   Gramatikovo     Kosti    Tsarevo

 

       Under 05

       Area,hectares  725                  -                      260               10            -

       for felling          -                    -                        -                   -              -

           06

       Area,hectares  280                  -                      160                 -             5

       for felling           -                    -                        10                 -             -

       Over 07

       Area,hectares  260                  -                  .    130               40             -

       for felling        170                  -                         -                  -               -

       Total

       Area,hectares  1265                 -                       550              50             5     

       for felling         170                  -                        10                -               -

           %                 13                   -                          2                 -               -

 

 

The table above shows that there is no indication of old forests of over 100 years of age with a presence of the Quercus hartwissiana in Forest Enterprise M. Tarnovo. FMP of the forest enterprise lists only about 50-60 hectares of forest plantations. The omissions of the forest managers of Forest Enterprise M. Tarnovo have not given us the chance to make a quantitative characteristics of this region, where the Quercus hartwissiana  is present on the whole territory, both in the karst and on the river terraces of the Delievska river, the Aydere, the Veleka and the Rezvaya.

In 1970, researchers from the Forest Institute have determined that „...Two main ecotypes have been formed in the natural habitat of the Quercus hartwissiana in Bulgaria – one is adapted to the alluvial-riverside habitat with deep and wet soil, and the other – to karst habitat with more shallow and warmer leached humus and carbonate soils /rendzinas/. The riverside ecotype stands out with more induvidual variability.”

We can only add to what our colleagues have said that after more than 40 years we are still in debt to the preservation and promotion of this relict and unique to our forests huge tree which together with Rhododendron ponticum and Vaccinium arctostaphylos should be the face of Strandja Nature Park.

 

                 Old forests of Quercus polycarpa and Quercus frainetto with Erica arborea

 

       Quercus frainetto and Quercus polycarpa forests with undergrowth of Erica arborea are found in a specific location in the south of Brodilovo and Kosti to the Rezovska river. In this limited territory Erica arborea manifests itself as a pioneer species on the open spaces and thin-outs on the ridges on dry, sandy and rocky soils. With the improvement of the habitat and thickening of the forest canopy towards the valleys, Erica arborea is disappearing.

During the preparation of the FMP for the territory of FE Kosti and Tsarevo have been listed 130 hectares of old forests with undergrowth of Erica arborea, all with density under 05. Clear-cuts are planned for 50 hectares of them!

We can only guess what the considerations of the forest managers to plan clear-cuts on this so limited area of all forests with natural Erica arborea communities were.

The natural forests with Erica arborea shrubs are low-quality, thinned, with bad tree groups of old, curved, branching trees with hollows, which would not be made any better.

The many Pinus nigra cultures, which were planted after the reconstruction of the Erica arborea thin-outs and which are not in good condition, must be considered for restoration felling.

 

                         Old forests of Carpinus betulus in Strandja

 

According to the data from the last forest managements of the Forest Enterprises, on the territory of Strandja Nature Park, Carpinus betulus is present in mixed plantations on an area of over 1,700 hectares with the largest areas being in FE Zvezdets – about 1,000 hectares, FE M.Tarnovo – 285 hectares, SHP Gramatikovo – 414 hectares.

The review of FMP on the old forests of Carpinus betulus shows how few the preserved natural Carpinus betulus planations are:

FE M. Tarnovo – 4 hectares with density under 05;

SHP Gramatikovo – 20 hectares with density under 05 and 20 hectares with density over 08;

FE Kosti – 4 hectares with density under 05;

FE Tsarevo – 1 hectare with density under 05;

Total area – 49 hectares.

 

The Carpinus betulus had the same organizational problems like the Quercus hartwissiana associated with the lack of separation into sub-sections with small areas. The cutting of the accessible forests with Carpinus betulus on the river terraces has led to their rejuvenation.

Back in the 70s in „Types of forests in Bulgaria” leading experts made the following recommendation: „...The location of this type of forests / Carpinus betulus forest with Quercus polycarpa and Fagus/ defines its strong water-preserving and protective nature, due to which no industrial logging must be permitted in it.”

The years that have passed since the time this recommendation was made have shown that their words have remained unnoticed!

 

                           Forests with dominant trees in Strandja Nature Park

The young plantations where there are dominant trees older than 100 years of age to over 300 years of age, with different density and tree species, from all forest managements in the FEs on the territory of Strandja Nature Park, cover the following area:

 

       FE Zvezdets – 1,680 hectares;

       FE M. Tarnovo – 820 hectares;

       SHP Gramatikovo – 3,100 hectares;

       FE Kosti – 1,130 hectares;

       FE Tsarevo – 90 hectares;

Total for Strandja Nature Park – 6,820 hectares, which covers 8% of the forested area.

 

Leaving the dominant trees in Strandja Nature Park and their preservation during the forest management, although late, is an important organizational forestry conservation event, giving authority to the protected area.

 

 

Conclusions and recommendations for the natural century-old forests on the territory of Strandja Nature Park

      

If you take a general look at the old forests in Strandja, which we analyzed by habitats we will establish that:

 

The old forests at an age of over 100 years in Strandja Nature Park have a total area of 27,350 hectares, which is 30% of the wooded area.

 

The old forests are representatives of habitats of:

  • Fagus orientalis – 5,760 hectares; 6.4% of the wooded area; planned for felling – 1,710 hectares; 30%
  • Quercus polycarpa – 6,230 hectares; 7% of the wooded area; planned for felling – 3,570 hectares; 57%
  • Quercus frainetto, Querceta cerris – 15,280 hectares; 17% of the wooded area; planned for felling – 6,870 hectares; 45%
  • Quercus hartwissiana – 1,870 hectares; 2.1% of the wooded area; planned for felling – 180 hectares; 10%
  • Carpinus betulus – 49 hectares; 0.1% of the wooded area
  • Fraxinus angustifolia – 10 hectares;

 

The most representative, endangered and priority habitats of European significance with the participation of old Strandja forests were presented in terms of areas and planned events on the territory of the Park:

  • Fagus orientalis forests with undergrowth of Rhododendron ponticum – 1,510 hectares; 1.6% of the wooded area; including such with density over 07 – 770 hectares; 0.9% of the wooded area;
  • Quercus polycarpa forests with undergrowth of Rhododendron ponticum – 1,090 hectares; 1.2% of the wooded area; including such with density over 07 – 660 hectares; 0.7% of the wooded area;
  • Fagus orientalis forests with undergrowth of Vaccinium arctostaphylos – 120 hectares; 0.1% of the wooded area; including such with density over 07 – 90 hectares; 0.1% of the wooded area;

 

Are the indicators shown above optimistic for including the Fagus orientalis forests with undergrowth of Rhododendron ponticum and Fagus orientalis ones with Vaccinium arctostaphylos in the list locations of European significance?

 

It was stated above and we will say it again - the total area of the mono-dominant and mixed old natural forests of Fagus orientalis and Quercus polycarpa with Rhododendron ponticum is 2,600 hectares, which is 2.8% of the wooded area of the Park. Of them the indigenous ones with density of over 07 are 1,430 hectares, or 1.6% of the wooded area, of which 270 hectares are planned for felling!

       Having in mind that for the moment the Fagus orientalis forest with Vaccinium arctostaphylos occupies 118.9 hectares of old forests with density 05-07, of which 64.5 hectares are planned for felling, we think that the most important natural habitats of century-old /old/ forests in Strandja Natural Park, outside of the reserve territories that are of European significance and which can be visited by tourists, are not protected permanently and in the long term!!!

Fagus orientalis and Quercus polycarpa old forests with Rhododendron ponticum in the Uzunbuzhak, Silkosiya and Tisovitsa reserves cover an area of 1,870 hectares, which is 2% of the wooded area of the park and 34% of the area of the reserves. It is clear that the old Fagus orientalis and Quercus polycarpa forests with undergrowth of Rhododendron ponticum which are out of the reserves are left with a smaller area than the one protected by the reserves!

If the forests of old age should be determined by economic units, the participation of the Fagus orientalis and Quercus polycarpa forests with Rhododendron ponticum by Forest Enterprises is unfavorable / relative to the requirements of „the Regimes...” and the certification / as  a part of the wooded area, stated in the following table:

 

 

Participation of the old forests with Rhododendron ponticum in % of the wooded area of FE

Forest Enterprise         Total                                 With density over 07

Hunting preserve  Fagus    Quercus     Total         Fagus    Quercus         Total

                           orientalis  polycarpa                   orientalis  polycarpa 

Gramatikovo            1.8           0.4           2.2             1.0           0.3              1.3

  1. Tarnovo 0.8 0.9           1.7             0.5           0.5              1.0

Kosti                         6.7           5.0          11.7             2.5          2.2               4.7

Tsarevo                    2.0           2.1            4.1             1.3          1.8               3.1

 

If there is a real intention of preserving the old forests with Rhododendron ponticum, they should relate comprehensively to the business units /in total for Strandja Nature Park/, where this habitat participates as reported for Strandja.

 

The large area of the old Quercus frainetto and Quercus cerris forests in Strandja - over 15,000 hectares, which is 17% of the wooded area and of which 50% is not planned for felling, blurs the overall picture of the old forests in the park and makes it unreasonably optimistic!!! There is a risk that the Quercus frainetto and Quercus cerris forests will represent the ancient-old forests in Strandja in the coming decades.

 

On the basis of the above analyses, the following proposals for discussion and undertaking of forestry and organizational events can be made:

 

  1. To launch a moratorium / temporary restrictions / on the use of all old forests over 100 years of ageFagus orientalis and Quercus polycarpa forests with density over 07, as well as the Quercus frainetto forests with density over 07 and of I, II and III quality rating. For the time being, the duration of the moratorium must continue until a new forest management is performed.
  2. There must be a long-term moratorium on the use of all old forests over 100 years of age with undergrowth of Rhododendron ponticum, Vaccinium arctostaphylos, Erica arborea, Prunus laurocerasus and Ilex colhica as well as over the restoration felling, planned for them in NATURA 2000 Regimes for sustainable forest management”
  3. To accept that, although fragmented, the territorial scope of habitats of Fagus orientalis and Quercus polycarpa is on the whole territory of the interior of Strandja and in Strandja Nature Park, which serves to identify the area and the percentage of forests of old age from NATURA 2000.
  4. Not to unite the Quercus polycarpa and Quercus frainetto into „oak market category”, but forest management events in the FMP to be designed separately for both species, in sub-sections, condition and without the use of methods based on formulas.
  5. To review the Quercus polycarpa and Quercus frainetto forests of sprout origin, transferred in the past to the high-stem ones. Reaching the age of 100-110, they increase the area of the natural old forests, even though they are with uncertain sustainability in terms of health and construction. To accelerate the conversion of forests of sprout origin into high-stem ones.
  6. To do a thorough evaluation and inventory of the Fagus orientalis forests with Vaccinium arctostaphylos, as well as the forests with Quercus hartwissiana, separately or during a forest management of the Forest Enterprise on the territory of Strandja Nature Park by trained in the park flora specialists. Before the start of the forest managements to consult the designers about the Strandja flora.
  7. To select samples of accessible old forests with reference to representative for Strandja habitats of Fagus orientalis, Quercus polycarpa, Quercus frainetto, Quercus hartwissiana, Rhododendron ponticum, Vaccinium arctostaphylos, Erica arborea and Calluna vulgaris and place them on exhibit in order to show to specialists and amateurs, also for monitoring.
  8. During the forest management of Forest Enterprises to implement the recommendation for placement into separate subsections with area of over 1 hectare of communities with rare, or protected tree species and bushes / Quercus hartwissiana, Carpinus betulus, Fraxinus angustifolia, Ilex colhica, Laurocerasus officinalis/.
  9. To amend the recommendation on „forests of old age” in „NATURA 2000 Regimes for sustainable forest management” which preserves inaccessible massifs as wrong and serves only the forest management, and which is aimed at the elimination of available samples of old forests of the protected Strandja habitats and on the territory of the Park.
  10. To implement the infrastructure projects for the roads in the forests of Strandja which are planned in FMP, /about 200 km for this decade!/ in order to enhance the economic and tourist accessibility. In case of failure to construct and repair the roads in the FE, to amend the annual plans for logging.
  11. To prepare a separate volume of the FMP on the forests in FE Tsarevo which are part of Strandja Nature Park, with detailed reports of the FF.
  12. To reconsider and review the structure of planned and approved by the FMP use for felling and logging in the FE of the park by focusing on:

 

  • the large area /23%/ and reserve /over 5 million square meters/ of the forests of sprout origin, the majority of which went over 70-100 years of age.
  • replacement with local species and revival of the natural character of the coniferous plantations /reserve of over 1 million square meters of wood / in the next 20 years.
  • activation of the restoration felling of old forests over 100 years of age with density of under 05 and which are over 6,000 hectares.
  • the forests with distant felling, which cover over 60% of the territory of the Park.

 

This will lead to a real conserving management of the unique relic century-old forests in the Nature Park Strandja.

 

            2012 - 2013                                           Engineer Diko Patronov,  PhD

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						STRANDJA NATURE PARK
						
                        
					
                        
                        
                        
                        
                        

						
						
						
						
						
						
						
						
						
                        
						
						
						
						
						
						
						
						
						
						
						
                    
                    


                        
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03.06.2015

Оld forests

                   CENTURY-OLD FORESTS IN STRANDJA NATURE PARK CHARACTERISTICS AND PERSPECTIVES

 

                                                                             Engineer Diko Patronov, PhD

 

                                                                                      SUMMARY

 

The present review of the century-old forests in Strandja Nature Park targeted the forests in Forestry Enterprises (FE) Malko Tarnovo, Zvezdets, Kosti, part of Tsarevo /16,907 hectares/ and Hunting Preserve (HP) Gramatikovo, which are located on its territory. When the park was set up with ordinance PD 30/24.01.1995 its total area was 116,136 hectares of which 83,072.9 hectares were forests. Under the forest management in 1996/98 and 2006/2008 the wooded area increased to 90,513 hectares. The increase of the forest area is not due to the addition of new land to the park, but it is a result from new forests from the former ameliorative fund and other lands, which were naturally wooded and registered as forests.

Forest Management Projects (FMP) of the forestry enterprises were used to do the review, field research on targeted routes were conducted in 2012 and published materials were used.

      

PRESENCE OF MAIN TREE SPECIES IN THE FORESTS OF STRANDJA NATURE PARK

 

The review of the century-old forests in Strandja Nature Park by wood species, structure, presentability, direction of economic influence and authenticity was done in sub-sections and sections from the last Forest Management Projects of the Forestry Enterprises.

In the review the terms 'century-old' and 'old' forests will be used with equal meaning, referring to forests over 100 years of age.

The main tree species in the forests of Strandja Nature Park, based on the data from the last two forest managements, is presented in the following table:

 

                 Tree species                  1998           2008           Difference

 

                 Fagus orientalis             18.5%         15.7%         - 2.8%

                 Quercus polycarpa                 31.3%         28.0%         - 3.3%

                 Quercus frainetto          29.4%         32.1%         + 2.7%

                 Quercus cerris               7.5%           10.4%         + 2.9%

                 Carpinus betulus           1.8%           2.1%           + 0.3%

                 Carpinus orientalis                 2.2%           3.8%           + 1.6%

                Conifers                        7.9%           6.4%           - 1.5%

 

The stated above reasons for the increase of the forest area after Strandja Nature Park was set up have actually primarily led to the changes in the ratio of tree species between the two forest managements. Low-grade forests and rocky areas with Quercus frainetto and Quercus cerris prevail in the added lands, as a result of which the numbers of the Quercus frainetto, Quercus cerris, Carpinus betulus and Carpinus orientalis may have increased at the expense of the Fagus orientalis and Quercus polycarpa. The reduction of the areas covered by the Fagus orientalis and Quercus polycarpa, which are the face of Strandja, is troubling and must be monitored during the subsequent measurements of the forests in the Park.

The change in the participation of coniferous tree species confirms the forecasts, guidelines and actions in the management of coniferous plantations, for gradual natural and targeted replacement with native trees and rehabilitation of root communities. These forestry activities will influence the future participation of tree and shrub species and the value of the forest.   

The summarized data from the measurements of the forests shows that Fagus orientalis covers an area of 13,400 hectares, Quercus polycarpa – 23,500 hectares, Quercus frainetto – 27,400 hectares, Quercus cerris – 8800 hectares, Carpinus betulus – 1800 hectares and Carpinus orientalis – 3,200 hectares in mono-dominant and mixed tree groups.

Quercus hartwissiana participates on its own, or in small groups in mixed tree groups and is rare as a dominant species; the stated areas in the FMP are about 3,000 hectares. Knowing the forests in the mountains, we think that in reality the participation of the Quercus hartwissiana is only indicated in FE Zvezdets and in the State Hunting Preserve (SHP) Gramatikovo – for the territory of FE M. Tarnovo it is not indicated at all, probably due the designers’ lack of knowledge.

Relict species important for the prestige of the Strandja Nature Park is the Vaccinium arctostaphylos  –  the only presented habitat of a forest of Fagus orientalis with Vaccinium arctostaphylos for all European forests is in Strandja. Probably due to lack of knowledge of the species, both with previous Forestry Managements and with the last one, the indicated habitats of the Vaccinium arctostaphylos are insignificant and fragmented.

Based on the recent data that we collected during route surveys with the participation of experts from the Park and the forestry, the Fagus orientalis trees with undergrowth of Vaccinium arctostaphylos which we listed cover about 250 hectares in FE M. Tarnovo, Kosti and Gramatikovo.

Based on the studies conducted in the past and from the stated data in FMP on the total area which is covered by Rhododendron ponticum, regardless of the extent of coverage under the canopy, it can be stated that it is present on the territory of about 11,350 hectares. The forests with Common Rhododendron, included for strict protection, are in the reserves Uzunbuzhak – 1,400 hectares, Silkosiya – 270 hectares and Tisovitsa – 200 hectares. Outside the territories of the reserves, the Common Rhododendron takes part in the canopy of forests of Fagus orientalis and Quercus polycarpa on an area of about 9,000 hectares.

 

       CHARACTERISTIC OF THE CENTURY-OLD FORESTS OVER 100 YEARS OF AGE

 

All plantations with main tree groups over 100 years of age were marked as old forests; and as forests with dominant trees – where there are trees with age over 100. The outcome is one too optimistic list of over 4,300 plantations with a total area of century-old forests of over 27,000 hectares and of dominant trees – 6,800 hectares in young forests at different age and in thin-outs of Carpinus orientalis.

In all analyses later on there will be data on the old forests in the Forest Enterprises from FMP 2006-2008 in sub-sections – for the dominant tree species, for areas listed for felling in the decade and subdivided by density – under 05, 06 and over 07. For the last /over 07/ we accept that the forests are with regular density and genuineness.

 

                  Old forests in Strandja Nature Park by tree species

Tree species                                                   area                             provided

                                                           hectares             %        for use               %

       Fagus orientalis                          5760                21           1700                     30

       Quercus polycarpa                     6230                23           3560                     57

       Quercus frainetto, Quercus cerris 15300            56           6900                     45

       Carpinus betulus                          70                    -                10                     12

       Fraxinus angustifolia                  10                    -                 -                         -

 

Current areas of old forests show an increase of about 6,000 hectares in relation to FMP since forest managements in  1996-1998. In interpreting this finding the explanation must be sought both in the increased area of the forest fund and the forests which passed the class of 80-100 years of age.  The accuracy of this supposition is evident from the dozens of sections in massifs of forests at 100-110 years of age and which are of sprouting origin. Their connection to the high-stem forest in 70s and 80s was not sufficiently justified. They will be referred to and discussed separately.

Looking at the reports of the old forests by tree species it should definitely be pointed that habitats which are significant for Europe forests of Fagus orientalis with undergrowth of Colchis bushes are not dominant on the territory of Strandja Nature Park,  and in inner Strandjatheir presence is only 21%. United with Quercus polycarpa old forests in the localities where they dominate take an area of 44%.

 

                                                                                                                                     91SO. Western Pontic Beech forests

 

The forests of Fagus orientalis are concentrated in two localities – to the east of the line Slivarovo – Gramatikovo and in the higher part of Strandja. This grouping of the habitats in fact differentiates both sub-types of the forests of Fagus orientalis of Strandja with European importance and priority, with undergrowth of Rhododendron ponticum, and other laurel bushes, and with undergrowth of Vaccinium arctostaphylos and other laurel bushes.

 

Distribution of the old Fagus orientalis forests by density and use total

       Density                          area                             marked

                                      hectares          %            for felling           %

       Under 05                 1270             22                  380                 30

            06                       1330             23                  360                 27

       Over 07                   3160             55                  970                 31

 

The table shows that the majority of old forests are with a high degree of preservation - with normal density. However, what is disturbing is the high rate of activation of these forests, which in the forest enterprises is not explicit.

 

                 The old Fagus orientalis forests in Strandja Nature Park

       Density                               Forest Enterprises /Hunting preserves

                          Zvezdets        M. Tarnovo  Gramatikovo Kosti    Tsarevo

       Under 05

       Area              100                      230               530              340              70

       for felling     40                       140                70               130               -             

          06

       Area               110                      380               560              220              70 

       for felling       20                        220                60                60                -

       Over 07

       Area                        350                     1120             1020             340             340   

       for felling        0                          590              190               50               20

       Total

       Area               560                      1730             2110            900              480

       for felling      180                       950               320             240               20

           %                32                         55                 15               27                 4 

 

Impressive is the fact that in Forest Enterprise M.Tarnovo the old Fagus orientalis forests are activated for regeneration felling at 55%, while in the State Hunting Reserve Gramatikovo the regeneration felling is only 15%. As the analyses of the other forests show, in the range of State Hunting Preserve Gramatikovo a largely sparing regime for area clearing of old forests is introduced, through labeling large areas as “inaccessible forests” and “forests for the peace and quiet of the game”.

Depending on the presence and type of the Colchis shrub undergrowth in the Fagus orientalis forests, they are grouped as follows:

       - with Rhododendron ponticum and other Pont euxeinos bushes;

       - with Vaccinium arctostaphylos and other Pont euxeinos bushes;                        

       - with Daphne mezereum and other Pont euxeinos bushes;

 

  1. Strandja forests with Fagus orientalis with Rhododendron ponticum

 

These forests are the face of Strandja. They are the reason which has led to the care for the preservation of the forests in Strandja from 80 years ago by setting up unique reserves and Strandja Nature Park, in order to permanently preserve the nature and natural primeval forests.

 

Century-old Fagus orientalis forests with Rhododendron ponticum

       Density                          Forest Enterprise/Hunting preserve

                           Zvezdets     M. Tarnovo  Gramatikovo  Kosti     Tsarevo

       Under 05

       Area, hectares    -                  30                    50              270           60

       for felling           -                  30                     -               120             -

          06

       Area, hectares     -                  40                  100              150          50

for felling            -                  10                    -                  40           -

Over 07

Area, hectares    -                  90                  200              250          220   

for felling            -                 70                    10                30             -

Total

Area, hectares    -                 160                 350              670          330

for felling           -                 110                  10               190            -

    %                   -                  69                   3                  28            -

 

The total area of Fagus orientalis forests over 100 years of age with undergrowth of Rhododendron ponticum covers 1,510 hectares, from which 310 hectares are activated for felling in the decade i.e. 21%.

The mono-dominant Fagus orientalis forests with Rhododendron ponticum are located in the deep and wet dingles. High on the slopes the communities are most often mixed with Quercus polycarpa and on the ridges, dominated by it, they pass through mixed Quercus polycarpa forests to mono-dominant Quercus polycarpa forests thinned out by undergrowth of Rhododendron ponticum.

The following table indicates the communities dominated by Quercus polycarpa old forests with undergrowth of Rhododendron ponticum by forest enterprises.

 

 

Century-old Quercus polycarpa forests with Rhododendron ponticum      

Density                          Forest Enterprise/Hunting preserve

       Area, hectares  Zvezdets    M. Tarnovo     Gramatikovo      Kosti   Tsarevo

       Under 05

       Area                   -                    60                       20               180            -

       for felling            -                   20                       20                130            -

           06

       Area                    -                   20                        -                 100          40  

       for felling            -                   20                        -                   70           -

       Over 07

       Area                    -                   90                       50               220         300

       for felling             -                  40                        30              100            -

       Total

       Area                    -                  170                      70               500         340

       for felling            -                   80                       50               300           -

          %                     -                   47                       71                 60           -

 

It is clear that the majority of the area of the century-old Quercus polycarpa forests with Rhododendron ponticum is activated for felling, apart from the forests in FE Tsarevo. Because of the better accessibility, they are technologically better for logging and, as it will be seen later, that is also the case with all Quercus polycarpa forests.

      

United, the old forests, dominated by Fagus orientalis and Quercus polycarpa, and in different ratios of the mixture of undergrowth of Rhododendron ponticum, Prunus laurocerasus (cherry laurel) and Ilex colhica, have the highest environmental and recreational value in the park. Their total area reaches 2,600 hectares, which is only 2.8% of the total wooded area of Strandja park.  Yet 28% of these old forests are activated for felling!

 

               Century-old forests of Fagus orientalis and Quercus polycarpa with Rhododendron ponticum

                 Density            area                    planned        

                                 hectares   %      for felling        %

                

                 Under 05           670         26           320              48

                    06                  500         19           140              28

                 Over 07           1430         55           270              19       

 

                 Total                2600       100          730              28

 

Amidst the Strandja forests, 1430 hectares of Fagus orientalis and Quercus polycarpa old forests with undergrowth of Rhododendron ponticum have a high level of authenticity of indigenousness and preservation until  2008. This area is only 1.6% from the wooded area of Strandja Nature Park and from it 19 % is activated for felling!

It is not difficult to state that the activation for felling of old forests with Rhododendron ponticum must be excluded from the plans for use.

 

Fagus orientalis forests with undergrowth of Rhododendron ponticum bear the marks of Pont-Euxeinos flora with evergreen shrubs of Daphne mezereum (February daphne), Prunus laurocerasus, Ilex colhica and Vaccinium arctostaphylos scattered among them. Such are most of the century-old Fagus orientalis forests – over 3,100 hectares, which are fragmented on the whole territory of the park from Tsarskovo kladenche to Arabadzhabair.

 

 

  1. Strandja forests of Fagus orientalis with Vaccinium arctostaphylos

 

The fieldwork we conducted with the specialists from the Park and from M. Tarnovo, Kosti and Gramatikovo forest enterprises, confirmed our conviction of sufficiently wide representation of this habitat in Strandja, even though the data in the FMP was scarce.

 

 

 

          Fagus orientalis forests with Vaccinium  arctostaphylos by Forest Enterprises

         Indicators                   Forest Enterprise/Hunting preserve

  1. Tarnovo         Gramatikovo     Kosti

 

       Sections                 61,62,63,71,224,225     306,308,310       215

                                       253,257,260,261,             218

                                         190,191,192

 

       Area, hectares                  183.8                       30.3              15.4       

 

       The total area of the Fagus orientalis habitat with Vaccinium  arctostaphylos reached 229.5 hectares, from which 51 hectares /22%/ are disorganized or modified coniferous plantations.

It was determined that the old Fagus orientalis forests with Vaccinium  arctostaphylos cover the area of  118.9 hectares, as 64.5 hectares of them are planned for felling – 54%!

There is no set purpose in that – simply these forests have not been listed by the appraisers in the FMP of Forest Enterprise M. Tarnovo as Fagus orientalis forests with Vaccinium  arctostaphylos.

 

 

                 91MO Pannonian-Balkan forests of Quercus cerris and Quercus polycarpa

 

  1. Century-old forests of Quercus polycarpa

 

Quercus polycarpa forests cover a larger area than the Fagus orientalis ones, they are represented by more forests over 100 years of age. As indicated in the following table almost half of the old Quercus polycarpa forests that still remain today are located in FE M. Tarnovo.

 

 

             Century-old Quercus polycarpa forests in Strandja Nature Park

       Density                                Forest Enterprise/Hunting preserve

                               Zvezdets     M. Tarnovo   Gramatikovo   Kosti   Tsarevo

 

       Under 05

       Area, hectares     120             650                        380            325          30

       for felling             70              340                        320            230         15

           06

       Area, hectares     125             765                        260            250          60

       for felling             90              500                       165            135            -

       Over  07

       Area, hectares     115            1605                        615           570         360

       for felling              25            1030                        380            270          10

       Total

       Area, hectares     360            3020                      1255          1145        450  

       for felling           185            1870                        865            635          25

           %                      51              62                            69              55           6

 

      

 

       Distribution of the old forests of Quercus polycarpa by density and area - total

       Density                    Area, hectares   Planned

                                           Total                 for felling      %

 

       Under 05                    1505                   975                65                       

           06                             1460                  890                61

       Over 07                       3275                 1715               52

 

       Total                            6230                 3580               57 

       % of FF                       6,9

 

 

Are the areas covered by old forests of Quercus polycarpa large?

We must be careful, especially for the forests with high density, because with this forest management dozens of sections with 100-110-year-old forests joined the list. Most of them are of sprouting origin, mono-dominant or simple in construction forests from abandoned clearing chains after the Balkan wars. They were transferred to the high-stem ones without clear motivation in the 70s and 80s.

 

 

Massifs of Quercus polycarpa – 100-110 years of age from clearing chains of sprouting origin

       Forest Enterprise/Hunting preserve                     Sections

 

       Gramatikovo                                          165, 166,167; 188-202;

       Kosti                                             116,117,118; 120,121,122;131-133;

Tsarevo                                            409,410,412;415,418,430,435;

  1. Tarnovo                    198,199,200; 205,206,207...

 

The indicated as high-stem forests of sprouting origin must be clearly distinguished from the old forests of different ages, so that they do not shape the outlook and imitate the old indigenous forests in the decades to come.

Slowing the rate of conversion of forests of sprouting origin also leads to the invasion of such forests in the category of old forests of more than 100 years of age.

 

        

  1. THERMOPHILIC Quercus frainetto AND QuercUS cerris FORESTS IN STRANDJA

 

We had to distinguish the pure Quercus frainetto forests and the ones mixed with Querceta cerris and other deciduous trees out of the old ‘oak’ forest of over 100 years of age. They predominate mainly in the western part of Strandja Nature Park. From east to west in the interior of Strandja there is a tendency of drying of the climatic characteristics, as a result of the annual decrease of precipitation and continental influence.

In the oak economic categories by FMP, Quercus frainetto and Quercus polycarpa have always been grouped together and that is how the use of the category is determined.

The participation of the Quercus polycarpa and Querceta cerris in the old forests of Strandja is enormous in terms of area and their individual discussion is significant for the future of the habitat of Quercus polycarpa, and what is more, for the priority, protected and significant for Europe forests of Strandja.

 

       Old Quercus frainetto and Querceta cerris forests by Forest Enterprises in Strandja Nature Park

       Density                               Forest Enterprise/Hunting preserve                    

                                Zvezdets   M. Tarnovo  Gramatikovo    Kosti    Tsarevo

       Under 05

       Area,hectares      3880          580                   1835                290         25

       for felling           1660          340                     675                 135          -

           06

       Area,hectares      1865          480                   1180                400         15

       for felling            835           320                    495                 210          -

       Over 07

       Area,hectares      2070          735                    1670                225         35 

       for felling            955           550                     595                 105          5

       Total

       Area,hectares      7815         1795                   4685                915        75 

       for felling            3450          1210                   1765                450         5

           %                      44             67                        38                  49          7

 

 

                 Old Quercus frainetto and Querceta cerris forests in total in Strandja Nature Park

                 Density                   area, hectares       planned

                                                 total                    for felling        %

 

                 Under 05                6610                    2810                 43

                     06                       3940                    1860                 47

                 Over 07                  4735                    2210                 47

 

                 Total                     15285                   6880                  45

                 % from FF              17

 

The old Quercus frainetto and Quercus cerris forests cover 17% of the planted area of the Park, while the forests of Fagus orientalis and Quercus polycarpa, which are of European importance, together cover 13% - Fagus orientalis - 6% and Quercus polycarpa – 7%!

For many objective reasons, the first of which is the inaccessibility and poor infrastructure, as well as poor market value of Quercus cerris timber, vast regions in SHP Gramatikovo /over 50 sections/ from Byala voda to Zabernovo and in FE Zvezdets, with all indigenous Quercus frainetto and Quercus cerris forests, have been left without planned use in the last decades. The poor market value of the large Quercus cerris timber is a problem, which hasn’t been solved for decades.

This does not mean that there should be a dangerous increase in the numbers of Quercus cerris and Quercus frainetto in the forests in Strandja.

However, the accessible Quercus polycarpa, Quercus frainetto and oak forests from the rest of the Park were subject to logging and were renewed.

 

                            OLD FORESTS WITH Quercus hartwissiana

 

The right way to raise the issue is as follows – not old forests of Quercus hartwissiana, but old forests with Quercus hartwissiana. The listed and planned in the FMP forests with prevailing numbers of the Quercus hartwissiana, or with 3-4 tenths, are a few. The Quercus hartwissiana is mono-dominant species over communities which occupy small areas and tends not to separate into small subsections - in 1-2 ha of natural populations, which thins out its presence in the forests.

 

 

                 Old forests with Quercus hartwissiana on the territory of Strandja Nature Park

       Density                         Forest Enterprise/Hunting preserve

                            Zvezdets    M. Tarnovo   Gramatikovo     Kosti    Tsarevo

 

       Under 05

       Area,hectares  725                  -                      260               10            -

       for felling          -                    -                        -                   -              -

           06

       Area,hectares  280                  -                      160                 -             5

       for felling           -                    -                        10                 -             -

       Over 07

       Area,hectares  260                  -                  .    130               40             -

       for felling        170                  -                         -                  -               -

       Total

       Area,hectares  1265                 -                       550              50             5     

       for felling         170                  -                        10                -               -

           %                 13                   -                          2                 -               -

 

 

The table above shows that there is no indication of old forests of over 100 years of age with a presence of the Quercus hartwissiana in Forest Enterprise M. Tarnovo. FMP of the forest enterprise lists only about 50-60 hectares of forest plantations. The omissions of the forest managers of Forest Enterprise M. Tarnovo have not given us the chance to make a quantitative characteristics of this region, where the Quercus hartwissiana  is present on the whole territory, both in the karst and on the river terraces of the Delievska river, the Aydere, the Veleka and the Rezvaya.

In 1970, researchers from the Forest Institute have determined that „...Two main ecotypes have been formed in the natural habitat of the Quercus hartwissiana in Bulgaria – one is adapted to the alluvial-riverside habitat with deep and wet soil, and the other – to karst habitat with more shallow and warmer leached humus and carbonate soils /rendzinas/. The riverside ecotype stands out with more induvidual variability.”

We can only add to what our colleagues have said that after more than 40 years we are still in debt to the preservation and promotion of this relict and unique to our forests huge tree which together with Rhododendron ponticum and Vaccinium arctostaphylos should be the face of Strandja Nature Park.

 

                 Old forests of Quercus polycarpa and Quercus frainetto with Erica arborea

 

       Quercus frainetto and Quercus polycarpa forests with undergrowth of Erica arborea are found in a specific location in the south of Brodilovo and Kosti to the Rezovska river. In this limited territory Erica arborea manifests itself as a pioneer species on the open spaces and thin-outs on the ridges on dry, sandy and rocky soils. With the improvement of the habitat and thickening of the forest canopy towards the valleys, Erica arborea is disappearing.

During the preparation of the FMP for the territory of FE Kosti and Tsarevo have been listed 130 hectares of old forests with undergrowth of Erica arborea, all with density under 05. Clear-cuts are planned for 50 hectares of them!

We can only guess what the considerations of the forest managers to plan clear-cuts on this so limited area of all forests with natural Erica arborea communities were.

The natural forests with Erica arborea shrubs are low-quality, thinned, with bad tree groups of old, curved, branching trees with hollows, which would not be made any better.

The many Pinus nigra cultures, which were planted after the reconstruction of the Erica arborea thin-outs and which are not in good condition, must be considered for restoration felling.

 

                         Old forests of Carpinus betulus in Strandja

 

According to the data from the last forest managements of the Forest Enterprises, on the territory of Strandja Nature Park, Carpinus betulus is present in mixed plantations on an area of over 1,700 hectares with the largest areas being in FE Zvezdets – about 1,000 hectares, FE M.Tarnovo – 285 hectares, SHP Gramatikovo – 414 hectares.

The review of FMP on the old forests of Carpinus betulus shows how few the preserved natural Carpinus betulus planations are:

FE M. Tarnovo – 4 hectares with density under 05;

SHP Gramatikovo – 20 hectares with density under 05 and 20 hectares with density over 08;

FE Kosti – 4 hectares with density under 05;

FE Tsarevo – 1 hectare with density under 05;

Total area – 49 hectares.

 

The Carpinus betulus had the same organizational problems like the Quercus hartwissiana associated with the lack of separation into sub-sections with small areas. The cutting of the accessible forests with Carpinus betulus on the river terraces has led to their rejuvenation.

Back in the 70s in „Types of forests in Bulgaria” leading experts made the following recommendation: „...The location of this type of forests / Carpinus betulus forest with Quercus polycarpa and Fagus/ defines its strong water-preserving and protective nature, due to which no industrial logging must be permitted in it.”

The years that have passed since the time this recommendation was made have shown that their words have remained unnoticed!

 

                           Forests with dominant trees in Strandja Nature Park

The young plantations where there are dominant trees older than 100 years of age to over 300 years of age, with different density and tree species, from all forest managements in the FEs on the territory of Strandja Nature Park, cover the following area:

 

       FE Zvezdets – 1,680 hectares;

       FE M. Tarnovo – 820 hectares;

       SHP Gramatikovo – 3,100 hectares;

       FE Kosti – 1,130 hectares;

       FE Tsarevo – 90 hectares;

Total for Strandja Nature Park – 6,820 hectares, which covers 8% of the forested area.

 

Leaving the dominant trees in Strandja Nature Park and their preservation during the forest management, although late, is an important organizational forestry conservation event, giving authority to the protected area.

 

 

Conclusions and recommendations for the natural century-old forests on the territory of Strandja Nature Park

      

If you take a general look at the old forests in Strandja, which we analyzed by habitats we will establish that:

 

The old forests at an age of over 100 years in Strandja Nature Park have a total area of 27,350 hectares, which is 30% of the wooded area.

 

The old forests are representatives of habitats of:

  • Fagus orientalis – 5,760 hectares; 6.4% of the wooded area; planned for felling – 1,710 hectares; 30%
  • Quercus polycarpa – 6,230 hectares; 7% of the wooded area; planned for felling – 3,570 hectares; 57%
  • Quercus frainetto, Querceta cerris – 15,280 hectares; 17% of the wooded area; planned for felling – 6,870 hectares; 45%
  • Quercus hartwissiana – 1,870 hectares; 2.1% of the wooded area; planned for felling – 180 hectares; 10%
  • Carpinus betulus – 49 hectares; 0.1% of the wooded area
  • Fraxinus angustifolia – 10 hectares;

 

The most representative, endangered and priority habitats of European significance with the participation of old Strandja forests were presented in terms of areas and planned events on the territory of the Park:

  • Fagus orientalis forests with undergrowth of Rhododendron ponticum – 1,510 hectares; 1.6% of the wooded area; including such with density over 07 – 770 hectares; 0.9% of the wooded area;
  • Quercus polycarpa forests with undergrowth of Rhododendron ponticum – 1,090 hectares; 1.2% of the wooded area; including such with density over 07 – 660 hectares; 0.7% of the wooded area;
  • Fagus orientalis forests with undergrowth of Vaccinium arctostaphylos – 120 hectares; 0.1% of the wooded area; including such with density over 07 – 90 hectares; 0.1% of the wooded area;

 

Are the indicators shown above optimistic for including the Fagus orientalis forests with undergrowth of Rhododendron ponticum and Fagus orientalis ones with Vaccinium arctostaphylos in the list locations of European significance?

 

It was stated above and we will say it again - the total area of the mono-dominant and mixed old natural forests of Fagus orientalis and Quercus polycarpa with Rhododendron ponticum is 2,600 hectares, which is 2.8% of the wooded area of the Park. Of them the indigenous ones with density of over 07 are 1,430 hectares, or 1.6% of the wooded area, of which 270 hectares are planned for felling!

       Having in mind that for the moment the Fagus orientalis forest with Vaccinium arctostaphylos occupies 118.9 hectares of old forests with density 05-07, of which 64.5 hectares are planned for felling, we think that the most important natural habitats of century-old /old/ forests in Strandja Natural Park, outside of the reserve territories that are of European significance and which can be visited by tourists, are not protected permanently and in the long term!!!

Fagus orientalis and Quercus polycarpa old forests with Rhododendron ponticum in the Uzunbuzhak, Silkosiya and Tisovitsa reserves cover an area of 1,870 hectares, which is 2% of the wooded area of the park and 34% of the area of the reserves. It is clear that the old Fagus orientalis and Quercus polycarpa forests with undergrowth of Rhododendron ponticum which are out of the reserves are left with a smaller area than the one protected by the reserves!

If the forests of old age should be determined by economic units, the participation of the Fagus orientalis and Quercus polycarpa forests with Rhododendron ponticum by Forest Enterprises is unfavorable / relative to the requirements of „the Regimes...” and the certification / as  a part of the wooded area, stated in the following table:

 

 

Participation of the old forests with Rhododendron ponticum in % of the wooded area of FE

Forest Enterprise         Total                                 With density over 07

Hunting preserve  Fagus    Quercus     Total         Fagus    Quercus         Total

                           orientalis  polycarpa                   orientalis  polycarpa 

Gramatikovo            1.8           0.4           2.2             1.0           0.3              1.3

  1. Tarnovo 0.8 0.9           1.7             0.5           0.5              1.0

Kosti                         6.7           5.0          11.7             2.5          2.2               4.7

Tsarevo                    2.0           2.1            4.1             1.3          1.8               3.1

 

If there is a real intention of preserving the old forests with Rhododendron ponticum, they should relate comprehensively to the business units /in total for Strandja Nature Park/, where this habitat participates as reported for Strandja.

 

The large area of the old Quercus frainetto and Quercus cerris forests in Strandja - over 15,000 hectares, which is 17% of the wooded area and of which 50% is not planned for felling, blurs the overall picture of the old forests in the park and makes it unreasonably optimistic!!! There is a risk that the Quercus frainetto and Quercus cerris forests will represent the ancient-old forests in Strandja in the coming decades.

 

On the basis of the above analyses, the following proposals for discussion and undertaking of forestry and organizational events can be made:

 

  1. To launch a moratorium / temporary restrictions / on the use of all old forests over 100 years of ageFagus orientalis and Quercus polycarpa forests with density over 07, as well as the Quercus frainetto forests with density over 07 and of I, II and III quality rating. For the time being, the duration of the moratorium must continue until a new forest management is performed.
  2. There must be a long-term moratorium on the use of all old forests over 100 years of age with undergrowth of Rhododendron ponticum, Vaccinium arctostaphylos, Erica arborea, Prunus laurocerasus and Ilex colhica as well as over the restoration felling, planned for them in NATURA 2000 Regimes for sustainable forest management”
  3. To accept that, although fragmented, the territorial scope of habitats of Fagus orientalis and Quercus polycarpa is on the whole territory of the interior of Strandja and in Strandja Nature Park, which serves to identify the area and the percentage of forests of old age from NATURA 2000.
  4. Not to unite the Quercus polycarpa and Quercus frainetto into „oak market category”, but forest management events in the FMP to be designed separately for both species, in sub-sections, condition and without the use of methods based on formulas.
  5. To review the Quercus polycarpa and Quercus frainetto forests of sprout origin, transferred in the past to the high-stem ones. Reaching the age of 100-110, they increase the area of the natural old forests, even though they are with uncertain sustainability in terms of health and construction. To accelerate the conversion of forests of sprout origin into high-stem ones.
  6. To do a thorough evaluation and inventory of the Fagus orientalis forests with Vaccinium arctostaphylos, as well as the forests with Quercus hartwissiana, separately or during a forest management of the Forest Enterprise on the territory of Strandja Nature Park by trained in the park flora specialists. Before the start of the forest managements to consult the designers about the Strandja flora.
  7. To select samples of accessible old forests with reference to representative for Strandja habitats of Fagus orientalis, Quercus polycarpa, Quercus frainetto, Quercus hartwissiana, Rhododendron ponticum, Vaccinium arctostaphylos, Erica arborea and Calluna vulgaris and place them on exhibit in order to show to specialists and amateurs, also for monitoring.
  8. During the forest management of Forest Enterprises to implement the recommendation for placement into separate subsections with area of over 1 hectare of communities with rare, or protected tree species and bushes / Quercus hartwissiana, Carpinus betulus, Fraxinus angustifolia, Ilex colhica, Laurocerasus officinalis/.
  9. To amend the recommendation on „forests of old age” in „NATURA 2000 Regimes for sustainable forest management” which preserves inaccessible massifs as wrong and serves only the forest management, and which is aimed at the elimination of available samples of old forests of the protected Strandja habitats and on the territory of the Park.
  10. To implement the infrastructure projects for the roads in the forests of Strandja which are planned in FMP, /about 200 km for this decade!/ in order to enhance the economic and tourist accessibility. In case of failure to construct and repair the roads in the FE, to amend the annual plans for logging.
  11. To prepare a separate volume of the FMP on the forests in FE Tsarevo which are part of Strandja Nature Park, with detailed reports of the FF.
  12. To reconsider and review the structure of planned and approved by the FMP use for felling and logging in the FE of the park by focusing on:

 

  • the large area /23%/ and reserve /over 5 million square meters/ of the forests of sprout origin, the majority of which went over 70-100 years of age.
  • replacement with local species and revival of the natural character of the coniferous plantations /reserve of over 1 million square meters of wood / in the next 20 years.
  • activation of the restoration felling of old forests over 100 years of age with density of under 05 and which are over 6,000 hectares.
  • the forests with distant felling, which cover over 60% of the territory of the Park.

 

This will lead to a real conserving management of the unique relic century-old forests in the Nature Park Strandja.

 

            2012 - 2013                                           Engineer Diko Patronov,  PhD

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