The park forest Vodno is one of the most important green areas near Skopje, which has unrivaled protective, sanitary-hygienic, ecological and sports-recreational role, due to its large surface and purpose.
The afforestation of Vodno started immediately after the WWII, i.e. in 1946. The bare terrain was converted to forest with complex afforestation and protection measures. The initial aim was to protect the terrain, the objects and nearby settlements from erosion and to improve the water regime in the wider area. Vodno was declared a Park Forest in 1976. The PE “Parks and Greenery” has been in charge of the Park Forest Vodno since 1988.
Vodno’s highest peak – Krstovar (1.067 m) with its mountain hut and the Millennium cross is a Viewpoint, as well as a striking landmark of the city and the entire Skopje valley. On the higher parts of Vodno the species chestnut, oak, ash tree and hornbeam are preserved.
Black pine tree plantations on Vodno are very important and numerous. Unlike the past, Vodno today is completely forested. Thanks to its specific geological base and climate, Vodno is populated with rich flora and fauna.
The invertebrates are the richest but least studied group. There are also many grasshoppers, butterflies, amphibians, birds, mammals, as well as 143 species of mushrooms (macromycetes are the most common).
There are seven groups of ecosystems
- Natural forest ecosystems
* Oak forests
* Chestnut forests
- Anthropogenic forests
* Mixed deciduous and coniferous forest plantations
* Black pine plantations
- Open spaces with spruce
- Dry grassland ecosystems
- Limestone cliffs
- Arable land, vineyards and orchards
- Populated places
Vodno is located in the southwest part of the Skopje Valley. It divides the valley in two parts- the northern part – city of Skopje and southern part – the basin of Markova reka and the Breznica plateau.
In the east-west direction, Vodno stretches in the length of about 12 km, from the Usje factory to the Treska river, i.e. Lake Matka.
Vodno extends to an area of 4.481.02 hectares. This area includes the overgrown forests, barren terrains, pastures and hiking trails.
The lowest altitude in the Park Forest Vodno is 280 m. The highest altitude is 1.066 m.
This height difference and the steep slope enable successful development of forest plantations of more tree species such as: oak, black pine, linden, birch, chestnut, hornbeam etc.
Vodno extends to different altitudes. The air temperature drops by 0.5 ˚C for the increase in elevation of 100 meters.
The German botanist Josef Bormiler has researched the flora on Vodno and he has cited 264 species. The most important publication about Vodno flora was published in 1969 by R. Drenkovski. The publication lists 1010 species – 868 autochthonous and 142 introduced.
The total afforested area on Vodno is 2593.12 hectares of which 737,83 (28%) ha are tall tree plantations.
The basic long-term goal of the protection of Vodno is to preserve and improve the forest quality. Vodno has been created as a Park Forest for special purposes and should persist as such.
Vodno has been afforested artificially using different methods and techniques, thereby planting different types of trees and shrubs, aiming to turn the bare and erosive terrain into forest.
Having on mind that there are many visitors, it is important to educate them how to behave in order not to harm the forests where endangering of biotic and abiotic origin has already been detected.
There are many natural or cultural monuments which are interesting for the visitors in the Park Forest Vodno:
- Locality Markova kruska – a medieval ruin, located in the easternmost part of the northern slopes that stretches to 50 ha. The terrain is difficult to pass, but it is easy to get to the ruins.
- Paleontological site Mali Most – situated under the Gorno Nerezi village, at the elevation of 500 m is a particularly interesting object. There is a layer of lignite at this site and above the mine there is a layer of white sand where a fossil of a Mastodont – the ancestor of the elephant has been discovered. Besides their scientific value, the remainders are also attractive for the visitors.
- Panteleimon and St. Nicholas monasteries – both located in Treska river canyon. They should be handled in accordance with the Law on the Protection of Cultural and Historical monuments. Introduction of allochthonous species of trees and shrubs in the surrounding areas is not allowed.
- Kale peak – has a particular value because it is a basin between the rivers Vardar, Treska and Markova reka. There are rare and interesting plants in the northern part of the locality which need to be protected, such as Ramondia nathaliae, Saxifraga scardica, Saxifraga grisebahii and Centaurea campylacme. This site is interesting for scientific research, but may represent a touristic attraction too.