Ali Botush is a Strict Reserve in the Slavyanka mountain range, located directly on the border of Bulgaria and Greece. It was established in 1951 to protect the largest forests of the endemic Bosnian pine in the Balkan Peninsula. Auditors of the European Wilderness Society pre-audited Ali Botush Strict Reserve and found an exciting area bordering Greece.
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Rich biodiversity in the border zone
The territory of Ali Botush has varied geomorphological formations and various ridges along an elevation gradient. Bulgaria was part of the Eastern Bloc, therefore these mountains were for a long time in a 30-kilometre-wide border zone. This zone required a special permission to get in. That is the main reason why the nature in Ali Botush has remained almost untouched for long decades.
Beech, hornbeam and sweet chestnut dominate the lowest elevation forests. The coniferous belt consists mainly of black pine and Bulgarian fir, as well as Bosnian pine. The limestone bedrock enables a good habitat to over 1 500 vascular plants and more than 20 Bulgarian endemics species. The varied habitat is suitable for a rich fauna, including a number of larger mammals such as brown bear, wolf, chamois, roe deer, badger and golden jackal.
Next steps in Ali Botush Wilderness Certification
European Wilderness Society audited about 1 000 ha of the Reserve in spring 2019. According to the Pre-Audit, Ali Botush Wilderness meets the European Wilderness Quality Standard. An exciting opportunity arises to create a tranboundary Wilderness in cooperation with Greece.