MARINA REKA PROTECTED AREA and– ECO TRAIL
The protected area is located within Natural Park Strandja (at the very beginning of the park after the village of Izgrev) and lies alongside the river. An interesting interpretative eco trail Marina Reka – the Living Museum of tertiary Europe" leads to the protected area. The trail starts near the road from Tsarevo to Malko Tarnovo, and more precisely 12 km from Tsarevo in the middle of the section between the villages of Izgrev and Bulgari. It is well signposted on the road. It takes about 50 minutes in one direction.
Coordinates: 42°06’55.57” N, 27°45’41.20” E, 237 m above sea level.
Marina Reka Protected Area has an area of 47.3 hectares.
Documents for declaring it a protected area: Order №332 of 16.05.1991
Purposes for declaring it a protected area: Conservation of natural forest communities of Hungarian oak, Sessile oak, and Oriental beech with undergrowth of Pontic rhododendron and Caucasian whortleberry, and the habitats of rare and endangered plant and animal species.
Mode of activities:
Prohibited: construction and any other activities which can change the natural environment of the area or the water regime;
Prohibited: importation of plant and animal species which are alien to the area;
Prohibited: felling of trees except sanitary and for cultivation;
Prohibited: picking of wild plants;
Prohibited: using chemical substances for agricultural plant protection;
Prohibited: grazing of livestock;
Prohibited: disturbing the birds during their breeding season, destroying their nests, collecting their eggs and chicks.
Overlap: Natural park Strandja and ЗЗ from the Birds Directive: Strandja
The history of Marina Reka Protected Areais interesting and indicative of how the combined efforts of foresters, botanists and conservationists can successfully lead to the preservation of unique natural forest sites. At the beginning of 1933 the first Bulgarian reserve "Upper-Elenitsa Silkosia" was declared. It included the area of Marina River. Because of the protests of the population and the beginning of the economic exploitation of forests, Upper Elenitsa was taken out of the protected area by decree of 10.02.1936 and its size shrunk to 389.5 hectares. During the next decades the forests which were no longer in the protected area were almost destroyed by felling. It was suggested to declare a protected area the remaining part, a compact area of47.3 hectares, which stayed intact. In the 1970s its most impressive part was declared Marina Reka Protected AreaAlthough it is small in size, this protected area is unique and in it you can see the main forest habitats of Oriental beech and Sessile oak, and all the representatives of the ring-tailed evergreen undergrowth vegetation – Pontic rhododendron, cherry laurel, common holly, tutsan, borage, primrose, twin flowered daphne, large leaved spindle, yew tree, greenbriers, etc.
Today it is the most often visited place by people on specialized botanical tours in Strandja because they can avoid the restrictions of the strict conservation regime and, in this outdoor classroom, in just thirty minutes they can get to know all the emblematic species of the ring-tailed tertiary flora колхидската терциерна флора. Wandering through the overhanging thickets of Pontic rhododendron, pausing in front of the only yew tree, surrounded by the evergreen shrubs of cherry laurel and common holly, the visitor is immersed in the lost kingdom of relict plants.
The nature of today’s vegetation of Marina River is the result of the crossroads geographic location, topography, climate and ancient past of the mountain. The land relief is hilly and low mountainous, but with a horizontal indentation, typical of high mountains. The steep ravines provide the necessary air humidity (this is the place with the highest air humidity in the park). There are a lot of spring and summer fogs.
Strandja is one of the few areas in Europe, which has remained untouched by the Ice Age, and here there is preserved vegetation characteristic of the pre-ice age periods, i.e. of the Tertiary period. The most typical are the forests of Oriental beech and Sessile oak with undergrowth of Pontic rhododendron, and cherry laurel, common holly, странджанско бясно дърво. Here there are species of high conservation value – tanniniferous oak, spring sowbread, fairy wings, common heather, Caucasian primrose, motherwort, wild sage, yew tree, etc.
Marina River itself rises north of the boundaries of Silkosia reserve, near the village of Bulgari. Its length is 23 km, and from the village of Bradilovo to the point, where it merges with Veleka, it is known as the Elenitsa.
The park is of European importance because of its treasure of 42 species of fresh water and passage fish. In the upper reaches of Marina River there lives the common minnow and the endangered in Europe East Balkan trout. The amphibians are represented by the southern and the small crested newt, the forest leggy leaper. The old forests near the river valley are the usual habitat of grass snake and whipsnake. Endemic representatives of lizards are the protected in Bulgaria and Europe Pontic forest lizard and eastern slow worm. In the not so thick parts of the forest and in the meadows there live the short-legged lizards, protected on a national and European level and included in the List of globally endangered species.
Hermann’s tortoise which inhabits the forests and the clearings is included in the list of globally endangered species.
The diversity of nesting bird species in Marina Reka Protected Area is very high for its limited size and under this indicator it is among the most densely populated with birds, wooded areas in Europe. Here are concentrated some of the densest bird populations of conservation importance in Bulgaria such as those of the white-backed woodpecker and black woodpecker. The deciduous forests of Marina Reka Protected Area are home to the semi-collared flycatcher, identified as an endangered species on a European level and included in the World List of Endangered Species. Here also lives the protected on a national and European level nightjar.
The black stork inhabits the forests, the open spaces and sheer cliffs near the lower reaches of Marina River.
Of the diurnal raptors those which nest and hunt in the valley are the protected in Bulgaria and Europe Eurasian goshawk, sparrowhawk, short-toed snake-eagle, honey-buzzard and lesser spotted eagle. Over Marina River passes Via Pontica – one of the two largest migratory routes of birds in Europe. Of the night raptors, Marina River is home to the owl and tawny owl which are protected on a national and European level. In the protected area the owl does not nest on cliffs, but settles in large hollows or abandoned nests of diurnal birds of prey.
Mammals here are represented by the typical endemic South Black Sea mole and the protected in Bulgaria and Europe East European hedgehog. Protected in Europe and represented here is the small water shrew which lives near the river, and the little shrew, woodland and common dormouse included in the World List of Endangered Species.
The largest population of long-eared bats in this country can be found here. The species is included in the World Red List under the category 'vulnerable'.
Along the river banks and in the forests around it there live otters, martens, wild cats, wolfs and jackals, as well as wild boars, roe deer and red deer.
The importance of Marina Reka Protected Area regarding the conservation of many species is due to the rough terrain and diverse habitats – preserved old forests with large hollow trees, river, and open spaces.