We consider valuable natural features to be the most extraordinary and/or special parts of nature. In the area of the Goričko Nature Park there are 44 elements decelerated as valuable natural features of national importance. Among them are 10 exceptional or morphologically unique trees, 5 stagnant water reservoirs, 9 streams, 4 geological specialities and 16 areas, either habitats or other locations, where protected species can be found. The status of valuable natural features was assigned also to Sotina Hill, mineral water spring in Nuskova, extensive meadows in Motvarjevci and Budinci, and Ledava Lake. On the map.
Geological features include all the major geological attractions.
Habitats of rare plant and animal species, areas of great biodiversity of living creatures and areas of conserved and characteristic aquatic habitats are due to their great importance defined as the valuable natural features of different types. Ledava lake and Hodoš Lake stand out among the stagnant waters in terms of their zoological and ecological value. Ledava Lake, which is located near village Krašči, is the largest stagnant water reservoir in the region, with 80 ha of surface area. North of the lake an extraordinary forest of white willows grows on sediments of the Ledava. Mentioned forest is extremely well preserved and thus classified as an eco-cell, making it exempt from economical targetting. Numerous woodpeckers and other animal species have found a home in this forest, including a collared flycatcher with its distinctive white collar. The vast belt of reed hosts a diverse world of birds – heron, great reed warbler, Savis warbler, water rail, and common moorhen. Different types of terns fly around above the water surface during the spring, while migration to their nesting grounds. Wetland meadows in Pertoča, located north of the Ledava Lake, are defined as valuable natural features of zoological, botanical and ecological value. They are, among others, home to sedge warbler, marsh warbler, and common snipe. Hodoš Lake is not far behind in terms of zoological diversity – great crested grebe, little grebe, little bittern and common otter are regular inhabitants of the water reservoir of Dolenci creek. Habitat of shrubby garland flower near Lake Hodoš was recognized as botanical valuable natural feature. Not far away, near the Hungarian border, an area of dry meadows on Bejčin Hill was also defined as an ecological, botanical and zoological valuable natural feature. Wet meadows of lemon daylily and marsh gentian are preserved in the valley surrounding this hill. Extensive meadows of great burnet all over the area are home to crowds of butterflies like scarce large blue and dusky large blue. Along the ridge, meadows become purple coloured during the spring due to the green-winged orchid. Eurasian hoopoe, red-backed shrike, common whitethroat, and yellowhammer are common scenes around this hill. Common buzzard and common raven do flyovers above the forest patches. In the eastern part of Goričko Nature Park, along the banks of Kobiljes brook in village Motvarjevci lies the preserved area of wet extensive meadows, which are home to last marsh fritillaries in the Goričko. The flowering meadowes are coloured in vivid colours by marsh gentian, lemon daylily, Siberian iris, devils-bit scabious, sneezewort, water ragwort, and saw-wort. Red-backed shrikes like to rest on tops of gray willows, while river warbler, marsh warbler and common whitethroat prefer to hide within the safety of dense clustered canopy of these willows. Meadows with similar vegetation can also be found few km to the east in Kobilje, where two additional plant endemites of Goričko can be found – fringed pink and bulbous saxifrage. In the western part of Goričko Nature Park, in Cankova and Pertoča, two habitats of mountain daffodil have been recognized as valuable natural features.
Nine trees growing in the area of Nature Park Goričko have the status of the valuable natural features of national treasure. All of these trees are exceptional because of their high age and stand out from others of their species either due to their size or due to special shapes. These trees are considered to be most sensitive to change and cannot be simply restored in the event of destruction. Thus it is important to preserve these trees and help them with indirect safety measures and various means to extend their lifespan. Major threats to these trees include death due to fungi infection and non-native invasive pests, such as chestnut gall wasp (Dryocosmus kuriphilus). Two specimens of sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) growing on Tetajni Hill (sl. Tetajni Breg) in Križevci in Prekmurje are among the thickest chestnut trees in Slovenia. One of them is more than 700 years old and grew as far as back as during Turkish invasions of the Goričko region. It is even drawn on military cards from the Austro-Hungarian period. Its extraordinary circumference can be measured at the size of 940 cm, he reaches ower 20 meters in height. Cornish oak in Trdkova, whose circumference is 493 cm, is easy to find by visitors, as it grows along the road. Noteworthy are also Sombotel’s chestnut in Gerlinci and chestnut in Markovci. The one in Gerlinci got circumference of 650 cm at its largest part. The chestnut in Markovci, unfortunately, died several years ago due to the fungi attack, bit its remarkable trunk is still an annual nesting place of Eurasian scops owl, a small and endangered owl species. Three of the trees recognized as valuable natural features can be found in village Kobilje – scots pine specimen in Golden Pit (sl. Zlata Jama), service tree on Martin’s Hill (sl. Martinov breg) and checker tree next to St. Martin’s Church in the center of the village. Service tree and checker tree belong to the rose family of plants, which includes most of the fruit trees, and are close relatives of the rowan. Checker tree in Kobilje is believed to be the oldest and thickest tree of its kind in Slovenia, its circumference measures at 277 cm. The municipality of Kobilje has chosen the image of its leaf for its municipal coat of arms. The last of the trees of valuable natural features is European beech, nicknamed Košeri, and grows in the forest on the border between Ivanjševci, Središče and Prosenjakovci.
Preservation of valuable natural features
The most valuable parts of nature, such as exceptional trees, special or characteristic geological phenomenons, and the preserved and species-rich habitats, have the status of valuable natural feature. Type and management of valuable natural features are prescribed by Rules on the designation and protection of valuable natural features (sl. Pravilnik o določitvi in varstvo naravnih vrednot). Attached in the link is a list of valuable natural features and their records. In the area of the Goričko Nature Park all the valuable natural features have the status of national importance. Some valuable natural features are marked with explanatory tables, on which you can learn more about their characteristics or typical species of plants or animals living there. Some valuable natural features need our help to continue their existence. Exceptionality in most cases coincides with the age of the trees, as old trees are also more susceptible to attacks by fungi and insects, or damage. Rejuvenation cutt, which extends the life of the tree, can be used to help such trees. In the past such cutting was done on sorb tree and service tree specimens in Kobilje, both of them recognized as valuable natural features. The habitats of rare and endangered plant and animal species must be maintained in a favourable state as well. Living habitats of shrubby garland flower is threatened by the growth of oak seedlings on forest edges, making it a necessity to annually remove young trees from meadows. Mowing the forest edges is not an appropriate measure, as it would also damage these shrubs.