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The Tara National Park with the Drina
River Canyon
Date of Submission: 18/03/2002
Criteria: (x)
Category: Natural
Submitted by:
Institute for the Protection of Nature of Serbia
Coordinates: 19°14'20" - 19°36'18" E 43°48'38" - 44°00'56" N
Ref.: 1698
The Tara National Park is in the westernmost part of Serbia and represents a mountainous area with exceptionally
important geo-eorphological, hydrographic and ecological natural values.The total area of the National Park is 19,200
ha with a protective zone of 37,584 ha. The Tara National Park comprises the mountainous region located in a large
elbow shaped curve of the Drina river formed by this river in the central section of its course. In morphological terms,
the area of the National Park comprises a group of mountain elevations ( highest elevations about 1600 m.) and
sharp relief intersected by deep cut river canyons. Among them the most prominent is the canyon of the Drina river
which marks the Park' s north and northwast borders. Towering limestone walls, tn places over 1000 metres high,
form its valley. Much of the area is composed of carbonaceous rocks and abounds in karst morphology and
hydrography (sink holes, smaller hollows, pits and caves, dry karst valleys and springs). What makes the Tara
National Park especially valuable is the fact that this area is a mountain refugium where relict Tertiary flora and
vegetation with complex forest phytocoenoses in which ende~ics and relicts doninate have been preserved to date.
Habitat conditions on Tara have not significantly changed since the Tertiary to date. As the glacial and interglacial
epochs went by, the climatic extremes in the Balkans were -to a large extent mitigated by a section of the large
Paratethys - the Pannonian ssa, an arm of which penetrated as far as Mt. Tara via what today is the Drina river
valley. Relict habitats on Tara, especially the gorges of the Derventa and Brusnica rivers as well as the Drina river
canyon, were a refugium with variegated and diversified Tertiary vegetation. Thirty-five forest communities have been
identified, of which four are relicts and were more widespread in the Tertiary era. It is important to point out that over
60% of the territory of the Tara National Park are well-preserved forest complexes of spruce, fir, beech or pine. Parts
of these forests rank as the best preserved and highest quality forest complexes in Europe. The greatest value of
Mt.Tara and of entire Europe is the conifer species Pancicts spruce ( Picea omorica Panc.), which has, since its
discovecy in 1876, provoked grest interest in scientific cincles. The spruce is a relict species originating in the Tertiary
when it was broadcast across extensive ranges in Europe and parts of Asia. Having survived glaciation, this species
receded and at present covers only a small narrow strip in the region of the central flow of the Drina river, in the
Balkan peninsula and Europe. In this sense the spruce is an endemic, with a very narrow range. Issues which have
still not been clarified in connoction with this species are the question of its origin and the reasons of its confinement
to such a saall range , as well as whether it is becoming biologically extinct or is receding under the influence of
external factors and man.Conifers related to this spruce which appear in North America and Eastern Asia belong to
other species. This spruce is considered the most beautiful conifer of Europe. In addition to Pancicts spruce, Tara
also bossts Taxus baccata, Ilex aquifolium, Dafne blagoyana, species endangered in most of Europe.We shouid also
point out that Pancic's spruce on Tara is also encountered on a unique peat habitat which is a phenomenon as yet
unrecorded for an endemo-relict species. The fauna of this region comprises a large number of species of which
some are endangered: bear (Ursus arctos) chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) golden eagle (Aquila chryssetos),etc. It is
assumed that before the Slavs came to this area the first inhabitants of the Balkan peninsula were Illyrian tribes while
the Romans were not particularly interested in settling this region. There are some material remains in archaeological
sites dating back to this period. There are also some medieval finds from 14th and 15th centuries as well as from the
period of Turkish rule.