Kongura Wilderness Candidate
The Kongura Strict Nature Reserve was created in 1988 and is embedded into the Belasitsa Nature Park. The Reserve is situated in the Belasitsa Mountains, about 45 km south of Blagoevgrad and is one of the most biodiverse area in Bulgaria.
Kongura Strict Nature Reserve protects an extensive area of old beech and sweet chestnut forests. In the past, the tree line was reduced by grazing and logging. However, due to the absence of these activities in the last years, the tree line is in the process of spontaneous restoration.
The territory is exclusive state property and is managed and protected by the Ministry of Environment and Water, through its Regional Inspectorate in Blagoevgrad.
European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System
The 450 ha Kongura Wilderness was subject to pre-Audit in autumn 2019 and meets the Bronze Wilderness Quality Standard. After finalising the Quick-Audit, there is a large potential to expand Kongura Wilderness to the size of approx. 1 300 ha and increase its Wilderness Quality Standard.
- Protected area: Belasitsa Nature Park
- Wilderness: Kongura Wilderness – Candidate
- Wilderness Quality Standard: Bronze
- Country: Bulgaria
- Size of the protected area: 11 700 ha
- Size of the Wilderness: 450 ha (with the potential for enlargement to 1 300 ha)
- European Wilderness Quality Standard Pre-Audit: 2019
- Wilderness Uniqueness: The area preserves old beech and sweet chestnut forests, and several endemic species. Populations of wolf and wild cat are present.
- Number of visitors per year to the protected area: Approx. 5 000 – 10 000
- Number of visitors per year to the Wilderness: Approx. 100 – 200
Biodiversity in the Kongura Wilderness is very large and unique. Most of the identified biotopes represent a unique example of the wild and spontaneously developing ecosystems. Within the territory of Kongura Wilderness, the forest is covering over 97% of the area and the rest are shrubs and small meadows in the vicinity of the tree line. The most dominant tree is the beech. The chestnut is found in the lower parts, below the beech belt. Shrub and grass ecosystems are predominantly located on the outskirts and higher parts, and are dominated by juniper, hawthorn and rose hip.
About 1 500 plant species have been found in this area, including endemic species of Bulgaria and the Balkans, and a number of species are also listed on IUCN Red List. The area is home to Albanian lily, karst lucerne and many others. The area is also rich in fauna and more that 130 species of birds have been identified in these biomes. The area also hosts wolf, fox and wild cat. Other common mammals are roe deer, wild boar and badger.
Wilderness Tourism Experience
From a touristic point of view, the borders of the Wilderness can be explored on foot following several marked trails. These trails offer a variety of interesting activities such as hiking, wildlife watching, rare plants sightings and also exploration of unique rock formations.
The easiest access to Kongura Wilderness is to follow the forest road/trail along the western boundary. This option offers the opportunity to stay in one of mountain chalets Belasitsa or Kongur. In the recent years, the interest in mountain biking is increasing due to the good network of forest roads. Surrounding the Wilderness, there are opportunities to stay in villages, where local eco-tourism activities are quickly developing.
- Kongura Wilderness – Candidate
- Belasitsa Nature Park
- Address: Belasitsa Street 14, Petrich Municipality
- Postal code city: 2880 Kolarovo, Bulgaria
- Phone: + 359 74 232 003
- Website: www.protectedplanet.net/kongura-strict-nature-reserve