On the Menišija plateau, where vast beech and fir forests blend with picturesque meadows, reign the laws of nature and its wildest representatives – bears, wolves and lynxes. Here, for nature enthusiasts, time flies too fast.
The Menišija is a high forested karst plateau between the Cerknica and Planina plains, the Cerkniščica and Otavščica valleys, the raised karst Logaški ravnik, the Ljubljana Marshes and Mount Krim. This approximately 15 km long, 6 km wide and 700 m high plateau runs in the Dinaric direction NW-SE. The major part of the Menišija is covered by forests where one may easily get lost...
The plateau consists of Jurassic limestone and Triassic dolomite. Limestone is mostly found in the north-western forested part. Dolomite prevails in the south-eastern part where some of the land used to be deforested and cultivated. In the 13th century, some of the land was owned by the Carthusian monastery of Bistra, which was connected to Cerknica through the Menišija by the so-called samostanska pot (monastic route).
|Surface area:||90 km2|
Fauna on the Menišija is remarkably diverse, which is the result of carbonaceous bedrock and great variety of plants. It was the very abundance of animal species that contributed to the inclusion of the plateau in the Natura 2000 Network.
In the extensive forests, scattered with marvellous meadows, bear is rummaging for berries, rootstocks, beechnuts and carrion. A pack of wolves is shadowing deer, and lynx is waiting for a daydreaming doe to come close enough...
Wildcats, pine and beech martens, weasels and foxes are feared among smaller small mammals and birds.
The abundance of small mammals makes the Menišija plateau a true paradise for owl species – Ural, Boreal and brown owl – there is plenty of space and food for all of them. Woodpeckers diligently drill holes in tree trunks for themselves and other dwellers of the forest which, is filled with passerines' chirping. The latter chat with each other and conscientiously greet each new day.
If we put the diversity of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians together, it won't even roughly be near the diversity of the invertebrate species. During the day, the meadows are full of dragonflies, grasshoppers, flies, bees and butterflies. Owlfly Libelloides macaronius also joins this party, but each and every one of them may end up in spiders' invisible trap.
At night, the forest ground and tree crowns are just as lively. All small creatures that were hiding from dehydration in the rotten wood, and under fallen branches by day, now come into sight. Common toad wakes up at the same time and swarms of moths awaken the bats...
Water habitats are especially valuable. Ponds host Alpine crested newts and yellow-bellied toads. Brooks are home to bullheads, and areas around them host Balkan goldenrings and ground beetle species Carabus variolosus.
Number of qualifying animal species to designate the area as a Natura 2000 Site: 17
The sunny-side slopes of the Menišija plateau are covered with meadows, which are among the most beautiful and colourful ones in the Notranjska Regional Park. Local people continue to maintain both, meadows on poor and dry soil and those on moist soil, with love and in an environmentally-friendly manner.
Most diverse are those hay meadows that are inhabited by the slowly disappearing plants – orchids. Dry meadows are decorated with green-winged, burnt-tip, three-toothed, fly, bumblebee, bee, pyramidal, fragrant and round-headed orchid and autumn lady's tresses. In thicker soil, they are joined by early purple, military, elder-flowered-and long-bracted green orchid. At the edge of the forest and in the bushes, blossom pale-flowered orchid and dark-red, red, white and narrow-leaved helleborine.
On sunny slopes, beech and fir forests are kept company by warm-loving groves of downy oaks and flowering ashes, whereas less-exposed areas are covered with hornbeam forests. There, thrive few additional orchid species: common twayblade, lesser butterfly, greater butterfly and bird's nest orchid, broad-leaved, Mueller's and narrow-lipped helleborine and common spotted orchid.
Marsh helleborines and rarer Lapland marsh orchids are hiding in ravines near upper courses of streams and rivers. As much a third of all orchid species found in Slovenia grow on the Menišija plateau.
Number of orchid species: 27