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  • Author: Hanna Ollos
  • Date Posted: Feb 2, 2021
  • Category:
  • Address: Pazardzhik, Bulgaria

Mantaritza WILDForest Candidate

Mantaritza Strict Nature Reserve was created in 1968 with an aim to protect an outstanding example of old forest in the Western Rhodope mountains. The reserve protects an area of mixed forests that has been without any human impact since the reserve was established.

A unique feature of this reserve are the pristine broadleaf and conifer forests with very natural structure and a lot of deadwood. The area provides an important habitat for a number of flora and fauna species, particularly for western capercaillie.

The territory is exclusive state property and is managed and protected by the Ministry of Environment and Water, through its Regional Inspectorate in Pasardzik.

European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System

The 400 ha Mantaritza WILDForest was subject to a Pre-Audit in autumn 2019 and meets the Bronze Wilderness Quality Standard. After finalising the Quick Audit there is a large potential to expand Mantaritza WILDForest to the size of 1 070 ha and increase its Wilderness Quality Standard.

Wilderness information

  • Protected area: Mantaritza Strict Nature Reserve
  • Wilderness: Mantaritza WILDForest – Candidate
  • Wilderness Quality Standard: Bronze
  • Country: Bulgaria
  • Size of the protected area: 1 070 ha
  • Size of the Wilderness: 400 ha (with the potential for enlargement to 1070 ha)
  • European Wilderness Quality Standard Pre-Audit: 2019
  • Wilderness Uniqueness: A large area of an outstanding example of broadleaf and conifer forests with very natural structure
  • Number of visitors per year to the protected area: To be verified
  • Number of visitors per year to the Wilderness: To be verified


Mantaritza WILDForest is mainly composed of three dominant tree species: spruce, beech and silver fir. Almost the entire area of the WILDForest is covered by old forest, unmanaged already for several decades. The WILDForest has very natural structure and its ongoing dynamic processes, such as spontaneous forest recovery, are very visible.  The area can be considered as one of the best representative examples of this type of forest habitat in entire Bulgaria.

Mantaritza WILDForest is a very important area also for its rich diversity of fauna. Brown bear and wolf are present here, together with badger, wild cat and pine marten. Besides that, there are red deer and roe deer, as well as wild boar. Mantaritza WILDForest is also home to several rare bird species, such as various species of hawks or woodpeckers, for example the three-toed woodpecker, as well as pygmy owl, hazel grouse, black woodpecker and European crested tit.


There is a nice officially marked tourist trail going through the western part of the Mantaritza WILDForest. The trail is passing Mantaritza WILDForest in the length about 3 km and the time needed is 1,5 hours. The trail is offering a great experience to explore this attractive area, it is well marked and in a good condition.

The nearby town Rakitovo is a well-known mountain village offering various possibilities of outdoor recreation such as hiking, biking and birdwatching. Not far from Rakitovo is the famous cave Lepenitsa.  The whole area is attractive tourist destination.

Contact details

  • Mantaritza WILDForest – Candidate
  • Mantaritza Strict Nature Reserve
  • Address: Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Water, Gurko Str. 3
  • Postal code city: 4400 Pazardzhik, Bulgaria
  • Phone: +359 34 441 963
  • Webite:

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