Central Balkan National Park
The Central Balkan National Park (Bulgarian: Национален парк Централен Балкан) lies in the heart of Bulgaria, nestled in the central and higher portions of the Balkan Mountains. Its altitude varies from 550 m. near the town of Karlovo to 2376 m. at Botev Peak, the highest summit in the mountain range. It was established on 31 October 1991. The Central Balkan National Park is the third largest protected territory in Bulgaria, spanning an area of 716.69 km² with total length of 85 km from the west to the east and an average width of 10 km. It occupies territory from 5 of the 28 provinces of the country: Lovech, Gabrovo, Sofia, Plovdiv and Stara Zagora. The national park includes nine nature reserves covering 28% of its territory: Boatin, Tsarichina, Kozya Stena, Steneto, Severen Dzhendem, Peeshti Skali, Sokolna, Dzhendema and Stara Reka.
The Central Balkan National Park is one of the largest and most valuable of the protected areas in Europe. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the Park as Category 2. The national park and eight of the nine nature reserves are on the UN list of Representative Protected Areas, and four of the nature reserves are included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves under the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme. It is a full member of the WWF-led PAN Parks.
The park falls within the Rodope montane mixed forests terrestrial ecoregion of the Palearctic Temperate broadleaf and mixed forest. It is home of rare and endangered wildlife species and communities, self-regulating ecosystems of biological diversity, as well as historical sites of global cultural and scientific significance. The flora is represented by 2340 species and subspecies of plants. Forests occupy 56% of the total area. There are 59 species of mammals, 224 species of birds, 14 species of reptiles, 8 species of amphibia and 6 species of fish, as well as 2387 species of invertebrates.