baumzaehlen - Primeval Forests & Their Trees

©2017 copyright christoph hase

Rila Monastery Forest Reserve , Bulgaria

The reserve is a part of Rila Monastery Nature Park that is adjacent to Rila National Park (see Opens internal link in current window Parangalitsa Strict Nature Reserve ). The reserve covers 37 km 2 of which 9.5 km 2 is virgin forest 1 . It is located on south and north-facing steep to very steep slopes of the west-east orientated Rila Valley at elevations of 1100–2750 m. The valley bottom is not included, so the reserve is in two separate parts. Mean annual temperature is about 3–5.5°C and annual precipitation about 950–1050 mm 1 . Granite is the most extensive base rock 1 . Soil fertility is high 1 .

At lower elevations, the most important tree species are Opens internal link in current window Fagus sylvatica (European beech), Opens internal link in current window Abies alba (European silver fir) and Opens internal link in current window Picea abies (Norway spruce) on the north-facing slope and Opens internal link in current window Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) on the south-facing slope. Towards the timberline, the forest is mostly composed by P. abies , Opens internal link in current window Pinus peuce (Macedonian pine) and P. sylvestris . Above the timberline, there are Pinus mugo (dwarf mountain pine) thickets, which are not included in the figure of 9.5 km 2 of virgin forest (see above). 1

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


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

Official site:

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