The Central Balkan National Park lies in the heart of Bulgaria, nestled in the central and higher portions of the Balkan Range. The Park contains 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 Central Balkan National Park was established in 1991 to conserve the unique natural scenery and heritage of this area and protect the customs and livelihood of the local population.
The Central Balkan National Park is one of the largest and most valuable of the protected areas in Europe. The World Conservation Union (IUCN) has listed the Park as Category 2. The Park and eight of its nature reserves are on the UN List of Representative Protected Areas, and four of its nature reserves are included in the World Biosphere Reserves Network under the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Program. In 2002, Central Balkan National Park became a candidate for membership into the PAN Parks European Network.
Centuries-old forests of beech, spruce, fir, hornbeam, and durmast cover most of the Park. More than half the flora of Bulgaria has been identified within the Park, and of these, 10 species and 2 subspecies are endemic, and are found nowhere else in the world. Over 130 higher plants and animals encountered in the Central Balkan National Park are listed in the Bulgarian and the World Red Book of Endangered Species.
There are 166 known species of medicinal plants, law protects 12 of which. In addition, there are 229 species of moss, 256 species of mushrooms, and 208 species of algae. The central portion of the Balkan Range is home to 70% of all invertebrate organisms and 62% of all vertebrate animals in Bulgaria. There are 224 separate species of birds, making the Central Balkan National Park an important, international bird refuge.
The EU-funded CORINE BIOTOPS Project created a habitat classification methodology and 49 of the CORINE classified types of habitats are represented in the Central Balkan National Park. Of these, 24 are included on the List of Endangered Habitats, requiring special protection measures pursuant to the EU Convention on Habitats.
The Park terrain includes large high-mountain meadows, vertical rock faces, precipices, deep canyons, waterfalls, as well as numerous peaks, of which some 20 are situated at altitudes of 2,000 meters and over. The Central Balkan National Park is a favorite spot for tourists, naturalists, and scientists alike.