Western Rhodopes Wilderness conservation

  • Country:
  • Start year:
  • Location:
    Western Rhodopes
  • Size (ha):
  • Area Type:
  • Type of protection:
    Significant part of the mountains are included in Natura 2000. SCI with total size of 436 311 ha - Rhodopi Sredni BG0001031, size 154846 ha; Rhodopi Zapadni BG0001030,size 271909 ha, Tzigansko gradiste BG0000372, size 9556 ha. The SCI Rhodopi Zapadni includes the whole SPA Persenk BG0002105, size 15677 ha and almost the whole SPA Trigrad-Mursalitza BG0002113, size 55327 ha and SPA Zapadni Rodopi BG0002063, size 72229 ha. The SCI Rhodopi Sredni includes the whole SPA Dobrostan BG0002073, size 836 155,20 ha. There are many protected areas in the region. The most important are: Reserves - I category of IUCN Reserve Chervenata stena, 3029 ha Reserve Mantaritza, 1069 ha Reserve Dupkata, 1211 ha Reserve Beglika, 1463 ha Reserve Kupena, 1761 ha Protected sites - IV category of IUCN Bujnovsko zhdrelo, 759 ha Chairite, 300 ha Trigradsko zhdrelo, 686 ha Batashki snezhnik, 1063 ha

Natura 2000 covers about 4000 km² of the wilderness areas in the Western Rhodopes. We work for their long-term conservation through community based conservation and work with flagship and umbrella species as Capercaillie, Balkan Chamois, Three-toed and White-backed woodpeckers.

Balkan Chamois


  • Fauna (mega) species present: - Bear (Ursus arctos) about half of the Bulgarian population (about 300 animals) inhabits the region. - Wolf (Canis lupus); more than 200 individuals, that is between 25 and 50% of the Bulgarian population, inhabit the region. - Wild cat (Felis silvestris); numerous population in the whole region. - European Pine Marten (Martes martes); almost half of the Bulgarian population or about 600 adult animals. - Otter is widely distributed along the rivers. - Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) is abundant in the hunting reserves (a 1000-1500 animals) but very rare outside them. - Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus) is distributed in the whole region. - Balkan Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra balcanica); more than 50% of the Bulgarian population inhabits the region (1000 - 1200 animals).
  • Vegetation types present: Majority of the region is covered by coniferous forests.


  • Description: We promote sustainable hunting of Chamois and Capercaillie as tool to protect their habitats and to decrease poaching.<br /> We support wildlife tourism and photography.<br /> We work for the restoration of localy extinct species.
  • Aim: To protect old-growth forests in the region through sustainable hunting of Capercaillie.<br /> To protect Balkan Chamois through community based conservation.<br /> To ensure strong local support for conseration through community-based conservation.<br /> To restore extinct species as European Bison.
  • Vision: Western Rhodopes are well know destination for wildlife tourism which brings incomes for the locals. Sustainable hunting eliminate the poaching and contribute for the restoration of the herbivores and predators. Huge public support ensures adequate Natura 2000 management and old forest conservation.
  • Results so far: Promotion of wildlife photography and watching of Balkan Chamois, Capercaillie and Bear.<br /> Sustainable hunting quotas for the Balkan Chamois which lead to increase of its population in the region.
  • Flagship species: Chamois


  • Inspirational value: The Western Rhodopes still maintain very wild places with old-growth forests and large predators. Their long-term protection is a big challenge and requires real implementation of Natura 2000, development of wildlife tourism, sustainable hunting and community based conservation. It is a model place for innovative examples for nature conservation.
  • Experience you would like to share: Sustainable hunting practices
  • Experience you would like to gain: Wildlife tourism and photography
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