Flora and fauna

The important European and international scientists who came to Idrija because of the mine did not only explore its geology, but also its botany. They laid the foundations of natural science in Slovenia. Knowledge of flora and fauna has a long tradition in the Idrija environment, which began with the arrival of the first botanist in Slovenia in the 16th century, P. A. Mattioli, who was followed by J. Scopoli, B. Hacquet, F. Hladnik, and H. Freyer.

The territory covered by vast expenses of Idrija's forests lies between the Julian Alps to the north and the Trnovo plateau to the south, and represents a passage between the Eastern Alps and the Dinaric mountains. It is, however, phytogeographically and geomorphologically more closely linked to the Dinaric than the alpine mountain system (Kordiš, 1986: Idrija Forests through the Centuries).

The main forest community in the Idrija region is Dinaric beech-fir forest (Omphalodo Fagetum Abieti-Fagetum dinaricum) in an altitude belt of (400) 500 to 1250 m. The forest is well preserved, particularly in the Zgornja Idrijca Landscape Park, where the remains of a primeval forest can be found on Bukov Vrh mountain. The forests are very rich in ferns and vascular plants. Among the habitat types of European importance are the vegetation of dry and semi-dry grasslands with many protected species of the orchid family, as well as communities of rock fissures, screes and rocky grasslands. Worthy of special attention and protection are the wet meadows and shallow marshland communities.

Dinarski gozd v Krajinskem parku, spodaj je Dolina Idrijce v ozadju Golaki

The area of the Idrija Geopark is home to more than 25 notable species, around 60 protected species, and more than 70 species from the Slovenian Red List of Threatened Species (Dakskobler et al., 2010).

The areas with particularly valuable and endangered vegetation and flora are Hudournik, the upper part of the Gačnik River basin, the upper reaches of the Idrijca River and Belca stream, Sončni rob, Idrijska Bela, the Strug gorge, Wild Lake, Kendove robe and Jelenk mountains, meadows in the Češnjice hamlet, Ljubevč farms near Idrija, Šebalk marshes with nearby meadows near Godovič, and the forests and meadows from Javornik and the Križna Gora mountains. However, not only protected plants are worthy of our attention. Equally important are also rare plants and those that are unusual for a particular area. And even more important is the balance between them, because only the joint protection of all plants and their environments will ensure their further existence.

Kranjski volčič Tevje

Avrikelj Blagajev volčin (Daphne blagayana)

Idrija's forests are part of the Trnovo Forest, which extends along continuous forest complexes all the way to the forests of Croatia. This provides a favourable habitat and reproduction area for several species of large mammals (bear, wolf, marten, otter, wildcat, red deer, roe deer, wild boar, …), as well as many small mammals (dormouse and other rodents, hedgehog, shrew, bat,…).

Of interest among the introduced species is the lynx (extinct in the 19th century), which initially multiplied well, and is now stabilising and expanding its area to the south and north of Slovenia. Another introduced species is the chamois, which lives in areas with rocky ridges and ravines as well as sun-exposed plateaus.

A good basis for the study of vertebrates is the work of a native of Idrija, Henrik Freyer, dating from 1842 (Fauna der in Krain bekannten Säugethiere, Vögel, Reptilen und Fische). Equally interesting is the half a century younger list of fish from the Soča River basin, which is the work of Julius Glowacke, a professor of natural science who was born in Idrija in 1846. Both works are highly interesting, because they enable comparison with the present state. A similar comparison is enabled by the study of birds in Carniola using the designations of Idrija.

Exceptional trees

Oak Avenue

This avenue of Pedunculate oak trees is situated along the Rake trail, and was planted during the construction of the Rake in 1770. Pedunculate (Quercus robur) is a species of oak.

Ash trees along Rake, Idrija

The Common Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) along the Rake trail is the largest preserved ash tree of its kind in Slovenia.

Snake pine, Godovič

A special genetic combination of the pine tree Picea excelosa form. Virgata.

Ivanšek's linden tree

An old linden tree (Tilia platyphyllos) of enormous size, one of the bulkiest trees in western Slovenia, a local curiosity.

Ecosystems

Bukov vrh

A Dinaric forest community of fir and beech trees of forest character on the northern boundary of the Trnovo forest (nature reserve). Not suitable for presentation.

Šebalk pond and Potočna area

The waters of the Potočna area are dammed behind the Šebalk pond.

Water hole in Ivanje doline above Godovič

A typical village sink-hole pond representing a rare ecosystem with rich invertebrate fauna.

Sink-hole pond behind the Ivanšek homestead

A typical sink-hole pond forming part of the homestead, a rare ecosystem, the habitat of endangered and protected animal species. The pond is inhabited by different species of amphibians (Rana sp. and Triturus sp.), dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata) are also numerous.

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