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Virgin Forest

Biogradska Gora

Areas in hectares: 19,800
Altitude: 850-2,139 m
Conservation status: prohibition by the King Nikola since 1878; National park since 1952, IBA since 2001; Emerald site under the Bern convention
Coordinates: 42o53’54.45”N, 19o35’58.12”E
IBA criteria: B2, B3


Biogradska Gora forest, the national park of the same name, is located in the northeast part of Montenegro, as part of the mountain masiff of the Mountain Bjelasica. Central part of the Park is Biogradsko Lake, of 1,094 m altitude, which is surrounded with the rainforest. Protected zone area of 14,400 ha is located around the central zone of the Park, surfacing 5,400 ha. The lowest parts of the Park are bordering with the River Tara. The Mountain Bjelasica has six lakes, mostly uninteresting ornithologically: the biggest, Biogradsko, Pešića, Šiško, Ševarine and two Ursulovačka lakes.


With its variety of ecological niches, this mountain is a quality habitat for the stay of forest birds. Historical data showed that since the 19th century the western capercaillie, Tetrao urogallus, the hazel grouse, Bonasa bonasia and the golden eagle, Aquila chrysaetos, have been intensively hunted. Biogradska Gora inhabits 126 species of birds. White-winged Snow Finch, Montifringilla nivalis; Horned Lark, Eremophila Alpestris; Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker, Picoides tridactylus, are part of the rich bird fauna of the mountain. The massif of Bjelasica is insufficiently studied and IBA conditions had been satisfied in 2001, because of the unknown population size of Circaetus gallicus, Aquila chrysaetos, Falco tinnunculus, Falco subbuteo, Falco peregrinus, Alectoris graeca, Perdix perdix, Coturnix coturnix, Bubo bubo, Otus scops, Caprimulgus europaeus, Picus canus, Picus viridis, Lullula arborea, Alauda arvensis, Turdus torquatus, Saxicola rubetra, Monticola saxatilis, Lanius collurio, Certhia brachydactyla, Parus lugubris, Emberiza cirlus, Emberiza cia, Columba palumbus, Strix aluco, Dendrocopos syriacus, Prunella modularis, Erithacus rubecula, Luscinia megarhynchos, Turdus philomelos, Sylvia communis, Regulus regulus, Parus cristatus, Carduelis cannabina and Emberiza citrinella.


Habitats of Bjelasica can be divided into alpine pastures, conifer forest, rocky grounds, deciduous forest and wetlands. Each of these habitats are characterised by specific ornithofauna and represent an individual natural asset. The highest altitudes and inhospitable cliffs are inhabited with several types of birds, that stay during the short summer, for example: alpine chough, Pyrrhocorax graculus; common swift, Apus apus; Alpine Accentor, Prunella collaris; high mountain pastures are inhabited with the ordinary lark, Alauda arvensis; little owl, Athene noctua; ordinary accentor, Prunella modularis; red-backed shrike, Lanius collurio and others. Evergreen forests are characterised by large number of songbirds, such as gold crests and fire crests, Regulus regulus and R. ignicapilus; common finch, Fringilla coelebs; Coal Tit, Parus ater; Bullfinch, Pyrrhula pyrrhula, and the grouse. The birds of deciduous forests are also the prey, such as buzzard, Buteo buteo; Eurasian sparrowhawk, Accipiter nisus; tawny owl, Strix aluco; then many songbirds: hawfinch, Coccothraustes coccothraustes; great tit, Parus major; green woodpecker, Picus viridis; mistle thrush, Turdus viscivorus and many others.


Although it has been the National Park since 1952, the Biogradska Gora has been protected since 1878 as the “Duke’s preserve”. The strictest level of protection enjoys the rainforest Biogradska Gora and the Biogradsko Lake. The scientific research is the only thing permitted in the rainforest, which is still well preserved. In the zone of mountain pastures, some habitats have been used for the construction of tourist facilities. As in other parts of Montenegro, the greatest threat to the habitat of the IBA is the building of roads and tourist facilities, as well as the deforestation. Zoning of the movement of great number of tourists every year is necessary. Birds such as the golden eagle, grouse or the owl have been brought to the brink of survival, or are completely extinct, mostly by poachers.

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