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Important Bird Areas - Velchevo

Velchevo State: Gabrovo, Lovech
Area: 2310,25 ха
Ownership: state - 26%; municipality - 35%; private - 39%;

Description:
A complex of mesophyle and alluvial-meadow grass associations, shrubs and broadleaved forests in the lower parts of the hills around the village of Velchevo and the adjacent villages in the pre-Balkan to the east of the town of Troyan along the Vidima river. The site is located in a plain-hilly region on the two sides of the river, its territory being divided in two parts – one to the north and north-west of the village and another one to the east of the village. The meadows are overgrown with mesophyle grass vegetation with prevalence of Agrostis capilaris, Festuca rubra, Cynosurus cristatus, etc. (Bondev, 1991).

Birds:
The site is of international importance for the conservation of the globally threatened Corncrake Crex crex, breeding there in considerable numbers. The area is not sufficiently studied for the rest of the bird species occurring there.

Threats:
The area is very sensitive to the human activities related to traditional use of the meadows and pastures. The most serious threats are the haymaking activities, which do not take into account the breeding period of the corncrake as well as the conversion of grasslands into arable land. The development of the infrastructure in the region will cause fragmentation of the grassland habitats.

Legal protection:
The Velchevo Wet Meadows territory is not protected by the national nature conservation law. In 2005 it was designated as Important Bird Area by BirdLife International.

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