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’Biogradska gora’ National Park

Date of Submission: 09/11/2010
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(x)
Category: Natural
Submitted by:
Ministry of Culture
Coordinates: N42 53 53 E19 36 00
Ref.: 5569

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"Biogradska gora" National Park is situated in the north-eastern part of Montenegro. It encompasses the catchment area of the Biograd River in the central part of the mountain massif of Bjelasica.

It was proclaimed a National Park in 1952. It covers the area of 56,50 sq km, while together with the buffer zone the overall area of the National Park covers 194,70 sq km.                                                                        

Bjelasica massif is characterized by great vertical articulation and numerous forms of mountainous relief. It consists of four mountain ridges of Dinaric direction, divided by deep river valleys. All relief forms and phenomena had been created in a heterogeneous geological environment (sediment rocks of the Early Paleozoic, Early and Middle Triassic and Quaternary and eruptive rocks of the Middle Triassic), which is characterized by the share of volcanic complex, of intricate lithostratigraphic composition. The share of carbonate rocks is relatively small, so that Bjelasica looks like an island of silicates in the sea of carbonates.

Significant geomorphologic forms and phenomena are systematized into four groups: phenomena and forms of river erosion and denudation (river valleys), the forms of glacier activity (cirques, drumlins and terminal moraines), accumulation (gravel terraces) and karst forms (precipices, chasms, cave, temporary and permanent karst springs).

The central part of Bjelasica massif is a relatively small area with the highest peaks being  dominant forms of the relief ('Crna glava' 2139 m, 'Zekova glava' 2117 m, 'Troglava' 2075 m, 'Belilo' 2059 m), with prominent traces of intensive Pleistocene glaciations and various forms of glacial relief.

Over and through Mount Bjelasica massif there is a hydro-geological watershed between the terrains to the West, which bring water to the Tara River, and those to the East, bringing water to the River Lim. As for hydrological objects, there is a significant presence of six glacial lakes (Biogradsko, Pešića, Veliko Ursulovačko, Malo Ursulovačko, Veliko Šiško and Malo Šiško) located at various levels above sea (between 1094 and 1895 m). They had been created by the bracing of ravines by terminal moraines along the glacier's route. Biograd Lake is located at 1094 m above sea level and it constitutes the largest lake on Mount Bjelasica (around 0.22 c) with the maximum depth of 12.1 m.

The most impressive part of the National Park is the virgin forest reserve, surface of 16 sq km, where the strict protection system has been established. That is one of the last virgin forests in Europe. It is located in the valley of Biograd and Jezerštica Rivers, surrounding Biograd Lake where beauty of the ancient forests reflects in their waters. This part of the Park is characterized by different types of trees and bushes (over 86) as well as the number of forest communities. Among them a special position is reserved for the mapple tree and ash communities (Aceri-Fraxinetum montenegrinum).

As for habitats, mentioned in the Appendix I to the Berne Convention (habitats covered by EMERALD and NATURA 2000 Projects), eleven of them are present in the area of Bjelasica. Dominant ones are those of beech (Fagetum) and spruce (Piceetum abietis), while, from the national point of view, Macedonian pine habitat forest (Pinetum peucis) is of utmost importance. Forest eco-systems are characterized by differentiated vegetation, both vertically and horizontally, the abundance of plant communities and the representation of relict and endemic species.

Around 2000 species and subspecies of higher plants have been confirmed in the area of Biogradska gora. Around 20% of endemic species of the Balkan Peninsula, Dinarides and Bjelasica Mountain have been registered. The Balkan Peninsula endemic species are: Aconitum toxicum, Rumex balcanicus, Pancicia serbica, Dactylorhiza cordigeria subsp. bosniaca, Silene asterias, S. sendtneri, Dianthus nitidus subsp. lakusicii, Dianthus pancicii, Alyssum scardicum, Draba scardica, Alchemilla velebitica, Potentilla montenegrina, several species of saxifrage - Saxifraga prenja, S.adscendes subsp. blavii, Chamaecytisus tomasinii, Genista depresa subsp. csikii, Asperula doerflerii, Gentianella bošnjakii, Verbascum durmitoreum, Verbascum nikolai, Greek maple - Acer heldreichii subsp. visianii, Macedonian pine - Pinus peuce and others. Out of the species covered by the Resolution to the Berne Convention, there are the following: Eryngium alpinum and Narcissus angustifolius.

More than 700 species of fungi have been identified so far in the National Park. The Park is also considered to be special for featuring the following species of fungi which are on the European Red List as being endangered at the international level: Hericium clathroides, Polyporus umbellatus, Hygrocybe intermedia, Hygrocybe punicea, Albatrellus pescapre, Boletus impolitus, Boletus regius, Boletus rhodoxanthus, Boletus satanas, Boletus appendiculatus, Mutinus caninus, Cantharellus cinereus, Gyromitra gigas and others.

As for mammals, 38 species have been confirmed. The entomofauna is characterized by a high percentage of endemism. 350 insect species from 8 genera have been identified in Biogradska gora so far. As for slugs, the Balkan endemic species of Deroceras turcicum has been found. The herpetofauna of the area is represented by Palearctic forms, followed by those central European ones with certain Mediterranean elements. The snake Vipera ursini is a globally significant species enlisted on the Emerald List and on the List of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). It has been confirmed that there are around 200 species of birds from 43 families in this area, which surpasses the number of birds in some other, larger and more thoroughly explored terrains. All water species in the region of Bjelasica belong to salmonids and represents the appropriate ichthyofauna. In Biograd Lake, there are three autochthonous species of fish: brown trout (Salmo trutta fario), minnow (Plioxinus phoxinus) and bullhead (Cottus gobio).

Great diversity of species, eco-systems and landscapes, in combination with largely unaltered spaces and specific local tradition of the utilization of space (summer cattle breeders' homes), contributed to the diversity of the types of landscape and their authenticity ranging from completely natural to less altered complexes used in a specific manner.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

There is a great number of dynamic and complex eco-systems, high degree of refugial features of habitats as well as a considerable number of endemic and rare plant and animal species, that all represent extraordinary values of the Biogradska gora National park. It is also an important evidence of the specific history and evolution of the living and non-living world of the Tertiary, from Ice Age up to the present day.

The area of National Park is characterized by extraordinary specie and eco-system diversity that makes it the 'area of interest' and the centre of diversity of both flora and fauna of the Balkan Peninsula and Europe. The last ice age left traces that it was there: six glacial lakes located between 1000 and 2000m of altitude.

National Park's special value makes a virgin forest reserve one of the last European virgin forests. This is the region of magnificent beauty and aesthetic experience.

Due to the presence of numerous endemic species and habitats, the area of the National Park was recognized an IPA area of interest (Important Plant Area), where the area of the virgin forest reserve may well become an area of interest for IPA (Important Fungus Area) because of abundance of the fungus species and the presence of internationally recognized species. Thanks to the fact that Bjelasica was identified as a habitat of the great number of internationally important birds; therefore, it was granted the IBA status (Important Bird Area).

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

Bjelasica Mountain together with National Park of Biogradska gora represents a unique biogeographical and ecological entity where the purity of the nature with incredible genetic, specie and ecosystem diversity, remained intact until the present day. Mosaic of natural and almost fully natural landscapes with characteristic way of utilization, makes a unique phenomenon in Europe.

Geographic position, silicate geological layer, impermeability of rocks and different climate influences, made Biogradska gora an important refugial space for frigorifile and ancient oromediterranean flora in which special place have endemic taxa.

Biogradska gora has been continually under protection since 1878. It was proclaimed National Park in 1952. It enjoys both national and international protection. The latter was has been in force since 1977 after the classification of the Tara confluence into the network of reserves of biosphere in the framework of UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB).

Comparison with other similar properties

Phytogeographic and ecological specificity of Biogradska gora, surrounded by high carbonate mountains of Dinara mountain system is its silicate composition. In regard to its acid layer, Biogradska gora represents a unique Refugium of frigorifile flora that is characteristic for the northern regions of boreal and high-mountains area of silicate Alps and other European mountains. On the other hand the presence of a great number of endemic species in its high-mountains flora may be explained by its connection to Prokletije and other mountains of southeast of Dinarides, strong influence of Mediterranean climate affecting the valley of Morača river. In comparison to the National park of Kopaonik, that has a similar relief, altitude and dominance of silicate geological layer, Biogradska gora has twice as much the number of endemic forms of high-mountain flora.

More importantly, what makes Biogradska gora a rare natural phenomenon is the virgin forest reserve that is a unique example of evolution of different forest communities and significant part of genetic heritage of our Planet.