About Bulgaria - ICN

Flora and Fauna
Bulgaria is a land of roses, orchards laden with fruit and vines grown since the settlement of the ancient Thracians. Favourable climatic conditions and variety of relief are factors that account for the diversity of vegetation. The overall number of plant species is approximately 12 400. Forests prevail, taking up nearly 27 % of the territory of the country. In the deciduous forests one can find oak, beech, yoke-elm and in the coniferous - white and black pine, spruce and fir trees. Grass communities cover 14 % of the territory of the country. The mountains in Bulgaria are rich in endemic plants. Some of these are unique for Bulgaria (270 species), others - for the Balkan Peninsula (285 species). Quite a number of relict plants and communities can be observed.
In comparison with most of the European countries the animal world of Bulgaria is much more varied, irrespective of the small territory. Plane regions are the richest in animal species. Along with heat-loving species inhabiting the lowlands in the southernmost part of the country, cold-loving species also can be found in the high parts of mountains. Swallows are observed almost everywhere, storks usually nest close to or in towns and villages, squirrels are numerous and can be met even in parks. All over the country there are foxes, hedgehogs, weasels, polecats, bats. Land tortoises inhabit the lowlands, wild cats and wild-boars - almost all mountains. Though rarely, otters can be found along rivers and water basins. In the planes of Northern Bulgaria one can find hares, partridges, quails, wolves, hamsters, crows, rooks, etc., and in the swamps along the Danube - wading birds such as pelican, ibis, heron, duck, and others, some of which nest nowhere else but in the Sreburna Reserve.
Stara Planina Mountains is rich in birds and insects, oak woods abound in red deer, roe, badger. The valleys of Struma and Mesta rivers are characteristic habitats of a large number of heat-loving animals - reptiles, birds and insects. The bears, the woodpeckers, the vipers are typical of the coniferous forests in Rila, Pirin and the Rhodope mountains, on rocks and serees one would encounter wild goats, eagles and vultures. The highest mountain regions register the largest number of endemic species. The Black Sea Coast abounds in birds (aquatic for the most part) - pink pelican, ducks, cormorant, gulls, etc. Jackals inhabit the eastern ridges of Strandzha Mountains.
In rivers and freshwater basins most numerous are the carp fishes. Other habitual species are the Balkan trout, the pike, the sheat-fish. The waters of the Black Sea are inhabited by medusas, crabs, black mussel, Black Sea shark, grey mullet, mackerel and other fishes and also mammals - 3 dolphin species and seal.
The preservation of lands of rich and interesting natural sights, of rare and endangered from extinction plants and animals is regulated by the Law of Nature Protection. The first natural sites to be preserved were declared in the thirties of the 20th C. At present these are 200 and the natural sights - more than 2200. Most popular among these are the Pirin National Park and the Sreburna Reserve which are included in the list of monuments of the world cultural and natural heritage compiled at UNESCO.