Eco’Trail of Shipka
« In the footsteps of Felix Maria Vogeli »
The erosion and floods at the end of the XIXth century and the begining of the XXth:
The massive deforestation phenomenon in Bulgaria begun under the Ottoman Empire. It resulted as a consequence of the human activities over the years, such as the numerous Russia-Turkey battles from the XIVth to the XIXth century as well as the overgrazing and logging activities. The long process of destruction of the forest ecosystems led to the soil erosion causing catastrophic natural events.
In 1861, in the north part of the Kazanluk Valley, several streams started to overflow, causing the first severe damages on the settlements of the valley. In 1864, the great catchment of Enina River gathered huge quantities of water, carrying various materials which flooded Kazanluk, affecting livestock, streets and houses. Successive devastating floods caused by torrential rivers continued during each heavy rain in the Kazanluk valley and in all the country throughout the XXth century. However from 1896, the Bulgarians citizens have been warned of the impending danger of devastating floods by the magazine “Bulgarian Review”. In its article named “The valley of Kazanluk – a future desert”, the forest conditions on the south slopes of the Balkan range had been analyzed. These forecasts were verified at the beginning of the XXth century, with 163 floods all over the country caused by swelling of the rivers from 1900 to 1910 – according to the information recorded by the forester Félix Vogéli.
These numerous catastrophic events were at the origin of the awareness of the Bulgarian citizens and authorities of the issues of the management and preserving of the forest ecosystem.
« On 29th of August 1910 as if the whole mountain slipped over Karlovo. The walnut garden in Chervenite Bregove Site was smashed under enormous stones. What might have been the strength of the torrent that dragged them up to here! The tremendous wave continued towards the town and left behind one of the most powerful devastations in the Sub-Balkan towns. »
« The Dalboki Dol Torrent in the beginning of 20th century cut severely the breast of the Balkan Range in the region between Karlovo and Sopot. The ravines dug by the erosion had up to 30 m depth. »2
Felix Vogeli’s work and the fight against the torrents over the XXth century
In april 1905, in response to the appeal for help of the Bulgarian government, Felix Vogeli was dispatched in Kazanluk by the French minister of water and forests. He had lived 6 years in Shipka and led to the creation of the «Torrent Stabilization and Forestation Office » of Kazanlak, the first of the country.
With a very good theoretical background and rich practical experience of soil-erosions issues and torrential areas in the “Alpes mountain chain” in France, F.Vogeli began an ambitious work which led the beginning of the anti-erosion activities in a national scale in Bulgaria .
His main concern was related to the extension and arrangement of the forest nurseries, the provision of sapling for afforestation, the study of the orographic, soil and vegetation-geographic conditions of the country as well as the causes of the deforestation and the determination of the places for the future fortification facilities. He visited and studied different torrential regions over the country in order to make recommendations for the places of new Torrent Stabilization Offices. As a founder of the erosion control activities in Bulgaria, Felix Vogeli made a general assessment of Bulgarian forests condition in 1911. According to that assessment, 90% of the wooded areas were covered with low-stem or trimmed woods with minimized water protection capacity. In order to regenerate the forest and rebuild a protective ecosystem, Félix Vogéli recommended the construction of check dams and leveled terraces allowing the catchment of the water thus fostering the growth of a new vegetation. He selected for that tree species, in particular pine trees from Canada, capable to adapt themselves to the climate of the region and to regenerate the eroded soils. Nowadays, the success of his method can be noted observing the high level of biodiversity of the Bulgarian forests. Walking along the trail, It can be noted that the pine trees planted around one century ago are slowly dying, allowing the natural process of growth of the native vegetation.
The spectacular results of reforestation work around the town of Shipka
“The slopes above Shipka Village at the beginning of 20th century (1902) were entirely devastated by torrents and deforested. In 1924 the planted seedlings were already strong. In the end of the century (1999) the forest on the same slopes looked as it had always been there.”
People against torrents
Comments of the pictures
The beginning of organized afforestation work in 1905 gave birth to an extraordinary mobilization of the inhabitants of the towns and villages throughout Bulgaria. Thus various parts of the society of the time took their part ; teachers, pupils, students as well as soldier and employees from enterprises, institutes and ministries has been involved in the afforestation activities.The population of the country has participated in 53 millions of workdays during the afforestation implemented for the period from 1952 to 1990. Following that pioneer work, X offices have been created and 1.8 million Ha of new forest were built over the country throughout the XXth century, of which 780 000 have mainly an anti-erosion function.
That we can observe during the trail, the results of Felix Vogeli’s method and the nowadays issues.
Current logging practices in Bulgaria involve clearing large areas for roads, which contribute to erosion and wind funnels. The Shipka Initiative Committee for the preservation of the forest, has submitted a proposal for announcing a protectected territory (see map). The proposal has a green light from the Ministry of Environment and Waters and at the moment is undergoing a process of approval from all stakeholders. → at the end of the sign ?
Felix Vogeli and his bulgarian associates…
 Source – http://www.doiserbia.nb.rs/img/doi/0350-7599/2013/0350-75991303361K.pdf
 Source – « Forest for people » magazine
[Antonin C1]Sentence too long ? Too specific ?