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Celebrating The Forest Week

01 April 2024
In 2024, from April 1 to 7, we celebrate the Forest Week.
Why are forests so important to the planet?
Forests release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide, thus contributing to climate stability. They retain some of the rainfall in the soil, supplying us with water and improving its quality in rivers, and prevent erosion. They also provide home to more than half of all terrestrial species – a rich diversity of life that keeps so many natural systems functioning.
Forests help prevent erosion and enrich and preserve soil, helping to protect communities from landslides and floods and producing the rich topsoil needed to grow plants and crops. Forests also play an important role in the global water cycle, transporting water across the land by releasing water vapor and capturing precipitation. They also filter out pollution and chemicals, improving the quality of water available for human use. Deforestation has an indirect effect on agriculture and can affect the production of the food we eat.
Human health is inextricably linked to the health of forests. Deforestation has serious consequences for the health of people directly dependent on forests, as well as those living in cities, as it increases the risk of animal-to-human disease transmission. Meanwhile, time spent in the woods has been shown to have positive benefits for conditions such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory problems, diabetes and mental health.
Because forests are home to over 80% of terrestrial biodiversity, including 80% of amphibians, 75% of birds and 68% of mammals. When we take away the forest, it's not just the trees that go. The entire ecosystem begins to break down, with dire consequences for all of us. Forests provide habitats for plants and animals, including some of our planet's most iconic species such as the tiger, giant panda, gorilla and orangutan.
Habitat loss is one of the main causes of biodiversity loss as land that was once forest is cleared for other purposes. Populations of forest-dwelling wildlife (which include mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians) have declined by an average of 69% since 1970, with tropical forests such as the Amazon hardest hit.

Forests in Central Balkan National Park

Forests – natural, ancient, are among the most valuable treasures of the Park. They occupy 61% of the territory, a large part of which is strictly protected by including them in reserves. The average age of forests is 122 years, and of broad-leaved forests – 124 years.
Deciduous species make up 85% of forests. Beech forests cover 44% of the territory of the "Central Balkan". In these forests are also found sycamore, common hornbeam, Balkan gorse, hemlock, common fir.
Mixed fir-beech forests, as well as beech forests with an understory of laurel or yew, are of particular value to the Park and nature conservation. The largest yew deposit in our country has been found in the Park. In the section between the Kartala and Yumruka peaks, there is the only and northernmost locality of the Balkan endemic Balkan pine in Stara Planina.
The Park is also home to one of the mountain's treasures – the centuries-old beech forests, including the largest protected beech massif in Europe, which provide fresh air and are the last home of many endangered species and rare ecosystems. They occupy over 30,000 ha (300 sq. km) and their average age is about 135 years, and in places there are trees over 240 years old.
In 2017, the most representative beech forests in the Park's nine reserves were included in the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List as part of the series site "Old and primary beech forests of the Carpathians and other regions of Europe".
To preserve life on Earth, we must preserve our forests. Without them, our planet would be a lifeless and barren place.