G. Forests

Moesian beech forests

Relationships with habitat classifications. EUNIS: G1.69 Moesian [Fagus] forests; PAL. CLASS.: 41.19223 South-eastern Moesian beech-hornbeam forests, 41.1924 South-eastern Moesian Ostrya-beech forests, 41.1934 Balkan Range thermophilic beech forests; HD 92/43: 91W0 Moesian beech forests; Bondev (1991): 47 Mixed Mizian beech (Fagus sylvatica subsp. moesiaca)and aquatic hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia) forests, 48 Mizian beech (Fageta moesiacae) (on silicate), 49 Mixed Mizian beech (Fagus sylvatica subsp. moesiaca)and ordinary hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) forests, 50 Mixed Mizian beech (Fagus sylvatica subsp. moesiaca), Oriental hornbeam (Carpinus orientalis)and ordinary hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) forests.

Conservation status. BDA, HD, BC.

Category. Nearly Threatened [NT – A1, 2 B1 C1 D1 E1 F1 G1 H1 I L3].

General characteristics. Pure and mixed broad-leaved forests the  main ediphicator of which is the common beech (Fagus sylvatica subsp. sylvatica and Fagus sylvatica subsp. moesiaca). They occur mostly in the foothills, low mountains and lower parts of the high mountains from 100 up to 1000(1300) m alt. in moderate-continental and transitional continental climate. They occur mainly on shadowy parts of the ravines with relatively high air and soil humidity, mainly on Cambisols and more rarely on Chromic Cambisols and Rendzic Leptosols. The Moesian beech forests are thermophilic forests with species from the neighbouring oak, lime, hornbeam, etc. broad-leaved forests. In the upper part of its vertical distribution the Moesian beech forms mixed forests mostly with Carpinus betulus and Quercus dalechampii,while at lower altitudes coediphicators are mainly tree species of southern origin and distribution - Acer hyrcanum, Corylus colurna,Ostrya carpinifolia, Quercus cerris, Q. frainetto, Sorbus torminalis and Tilia tomentosa.Usually no shrub layer develops. More often solitary shrubs of Cornus mas, Crataegus monogyna, Rosa arvensis, Rubus hirtus, Ruscus aculeatus, R. hypoglossum occur.The total cover of the herbaceous layer varies widely, depends on the tree cover and has mosaic structure. Most often microphytocoenoses with the prevailing of the following species exist: Aremonia agrimonoides, Dentaria bulbifera, Euphorbia amygdaloides, Galium odoratum, Luzula forsteri, Melica uniflora and Sanicula europaea. Other species with high frequency are Dryopteris filix-mas, Hedera helix, Lamiastrum galeobdolon, Melissa officinalis, Mycelis muralis, Piptatherum virescens, Polygonatum latifolium, P. odoratum, Potentilla micrantha, Sanicula europaea, Tamus communis, Viola odorata, V. reichenbachiana and V. riviniana. The presence of Glechoma hederacea, Arum maculatum, Geum urbanum, Helleborus odorus, Lathyrus niger and Physospermum cornubiense proves the termophilic character of this type of beech forests. Typical is the spring synusium with Arum maculatum, Geum urbanum, Glechoma hederacea, Helleborus odorus, Lathyrus niger, Physospermum cornubiense, etc. The syntaxonomy of the Moesian beech forests is not completely clear. There are two subassociations that represent the two main subtypes of the habitat:

Characteristic taxa.

Distribution in Bulgaria. Balkan Range, Forebalkan, Rhodopi Mts., Vitosha Mts., Golo Bardo Mts., Lyulin Mts., Ruy Mts., Lozenska Mts., Belasitsa Mts., Vlachina Mts., Konyavska Mts., Srdna Gora Mts. and Pirin Mts. up to 1000 (1300) m alt. Separate fragments of these forests can occur at about 100 m alt. in the Danubian plain and Forebalkan.

Conservation importance. The Moesian beech forests cover about 125000 ha in Bulgaria. In some of the phytocoenoses the following species of conservation value occur: Acer heldreichii, Atropa bella-donna, Ilex aquifolium, Lathraea rhodopaea, Lathyrus grandiflorus, Paeonia mascula, Rubus thyrsiflorus, R. vepallidus, etc.

Threats. Since the Moesian beech forests occur at lower elevations in the mountains they have been subjected to strong anthropogenic pressure. The unregulated logging, fires, building and exploitation of infrastructure constructions have the heaviest negative impact on their state.

Conservation measures taken. Parts of the Moesian beech forests are within protected areas of different status and area – Kutelka, Orlitsata, Kamenstitsa, Lestnitsa, Chervenata Stena Strict Nature Reserves, Central Balkan National Park (the low southern slopes), Vrachanski Balkan, Sinite Kamani, Zlatni Pyasatsy, Vitosha Nature Parks, Ostritsa Managed Nature Reserve and in sites of the European Ecological Network NATURA 2000 in Bulgaria.

Conservation measures needed. Mapping and monitoring of the best preserved and most vulnerable habitats; increase of the areas of this habitat included in protected areas; improvement of the forest guarding.

References. Penev et al. 1969; Soo 1963, 1964; Stojanov 1941; Tzonev et al. 2006.

Author: Marius Dimitrov

Moesian beech forests (distribution map)