Kresna gorge

Kresna is situated in South-west Bulgaria along the Struma River valley in the region of Kresna Gorge. On the south it reaches the villages Palat and Drakata, on the north – the village Krupnik, on the east – the foot of the Pirin Mountain and on the west – the foothills of the Maleshevska Mountain. The climate is transitory Mediterranean. The sediment soils prevail along the river course, followed by moltic, delluvial alluvial shallow soils and in the periphery – maroon soils. The Kresna Gorge is a rocky complex on a silicate base. It features steep stony slopes, a big rock massif with vertical cliff walls and smaller rocky habitats. South of the gorge there are hills covered with Mediterranean vegetation, with altitude up to 500 m. The mixed oak forests – Quercus pubescens, Carpinus orientalis, and Fraxinus ornus, as well as the mixed forests of Juniperus excelsa and Q. pubescens with undergrowth of evergreen Mediterranean shrubs are widely spread at an altitude of up to 500 m. Forests of Juniperus excelsa with undergrowth of Juniperus oxycedrus prevail at certain places. Paliurus spina-cristi and Pistacia terebinthus occur mainly along the gorges. In the more southern regions occur some typical Mediterranean evergreen species as Quercus coccifera and Phillyrea media. The associations of Pubescent Oak and Oriental Hornbeam are quite characteristic. The Juniper and mixed Juniper-Pubescent Oak forests with undergrowth of evergreen Mediterranean shrubs are the habitats, which determine the high proportion of the Mediterranean speices (more than 30%) in the ornithofauna of Kresna. Along the Struma valley in the Kresna gorge and in the foothills of the Pirin Mountain there are associations of Platanus orientalis. The lower parts of these regions along the rivers and on the wet spots support associations of willow and alder Salix spp. and Alnus spp. An endemic species occurring there is Minuartia dilijane. There are also sparse artificial plantations of Austrian Pine Pinus nigra as well as farmlands, mainly pastures.