Ramsar site management plans -- Bulgaria, Srebarna

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Edition 2000, Sofia, 2000

[reprinted on this Web site, May 2001, with permission]

Project “Development and Implementation of a Management Plan for Srebarna Lake Ramsar Site” is elaborated with the financial aid of the Ramsar Small Grants Fund for Wetlands Conservation and Wise Use –1997.

The Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty, which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. There are presently 121 Contracting Parties to the Convention, with 1027 wetland sites, totalling 78.1 million hectares, designated for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.

Bulgaria is a party to the Ramsar Convention since 1975 and has joined the agreement with 2 of its wetlands, namely ARKUTINO and SREBARNA. Later on the Atanasovsko, Durankulak and Shabla lakes were added to the list. A Ramsar National Committee has been established at the MoEW, including two representatives from CLOE.

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The Team that worked out the present Management Plan would like to express its cordial thanks to the Ramsar Convention Bureau - and particularly - to Mr. Delmar Blasco, the Secretary General, to Mr. Tim Jones, the former Regional Coordinator for Europe, and to Mr. Tobias Salathé, the present Regional Coordinator for Europe - for their unswerving support and care for this Project.

We would also like to express our sincere thanks for their kind support to:

Mrs. ?vdokia Maneva - Minister of the Environment and Water
Mr. Valentin Dobrev – Ambassador of Bulgaria to the UK
Mr. Khristo Bozhinov - Head of the MoEW National Nature Protection Service and his associates
Mr. Todor Moskov – Director of the Regional Inspectorate – Rouse
Mr. Encho Enchev, Mr. Radoslav Radev and Mr. Tesko Angelov from of Srebarna BR Administration
The Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reforms
Mr. Ivo Andonov – Mayor of the town of Silistra and Dr. Georgi Panov – former Mayor of of the town of Silistra
Mr. Georgi Boev – Mayor of Srebarna Village and Mr. Georgi Simov –former Mayor of Srebarna Village.

We would also like to thank our colleagues and supporters: Ms Tzenka Tomova, Mr. Alex Lebedevski, Assoc. Professor Georgi Tepeliev, Ms Miglena Grozdanova, Ms Marchela Lebikyan as well as all others who have, in one way or another, helped us to work out this Management Plan. 

List of Contributors

This management plan was prepared by a leading team from the Central Laboratory of General Ecology – Bulgarian Academy of Science:
G. Hiebaum – Head of the team, T. Michev, V.Vasilev, Y. Uzunov

The articles in Part 1. 'Description' are based on the reports prepared by:
1.14.1.Geology, geomorphology and hydrogeology, A. Benderev – Geological Institute, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS)
1.14.3. Hydrology (including seasonal water balance and water level, inflow and outflow), I. Dyadovski – Central Laboratory of General Ecology (CLGE), BAS
1.14.4. Soil type and Soil Features, T. Shishkov - Institute of Soil Science and Agroecology ' N. Poushkarov'
1.14.5. Nitrogen & Phosphorus Conditions in Soils & Lake Sediments, V.Koutev - Institute of Soil Science and Agroecology ' N. Poushkarov'
1.14.6. Water quality, G. Hiebaum, V. Tsavkova, V. Vassilev, P. Khristova - CLGE, BAS
1.14.7. Climate, A. Tsenkova, E. Koleva, Yu. Ivamcheva, L. Krastev - National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology, BAS
1.16.1. Main habitats and vegetation types, V. Velev - CLGE, BAS Phytoplankton, M. Stoyneva - Sofia University "St Kl. Ohridski" Zooplankton, V.Naidenov, V. Tsavkova* – Institute o Zoology, BAS; *CLGE, BAS Fishes, L Pehlivanov - Institute of Zoology, BAS Zoobenthos, Y. Uzunov – CLGE, BAS Production and destruction of organic matter, V. Vasilev, G. Hiebaum, V. Tsavkova – CLGE, BAS
1.17.1 Algae, Fungi (incl. Lichens), According to Stoyneva (1998), Denchev, Stoyneva (1998), Ivanov (1998)
1.17.2. Vascular plants, V. Velev, G. Baeva*, Sv. Bratanova – CLGE, BAS; *Pedagogical Institute, Silistra
1.17.3. Forests and Arboreal Plants, Sv. Bratanova – CLGE, BAS
1.18.1. Invertebrates (without Helminths and Insects), B. Georgiev - CLGE, BAS
1.18.2. Helminth parasites, T. Genov, V. Biserkov, B. Georgiev - CLGE, BAS
1.18.3. Insects, N. Kodzhabashev – Forestry University, Sofia
1.18.5. Amphibians, V. Biserkov - CLGE, BAS
1.18.6. Reptiles, V. Biserkov - CLGE, BAS
1.18.7. Birds, T. Michev, N. Mikhov, L. Profirov* - CLGE, BAS; *Burgas Wetlands Programme
1.18.8. Mammals, Sv. Gerasimov - Foresty University, Sofia
1.19. Socio-economic and cultural values, Y. Kutsarov – Srebarna Biosphere Reserve
1.26. Current conservation education, E. Matveeva – Ministry of Environment and Waters

Maps and GIS:
Maps No. No.: 2, 5, 7, 9, 15, V.Dimitrov, A.Stoimenov – Bulgarian Aacademy of Scineces Space Research Institute
Map No. No.: 6, 8, K. Danailov – Top Geo LTD
Map No. No.: 10, 11,12,13,14, T. Michev & I. Yanchev, A. Lebedevski – Bulgarian Academy of Sciences Central Laboratory of General Ecology

The other parts of the Management Plan are written by the leading team. The responsibility for the final version of the management plant is with the leading team.

Technical staff
Ivan Yanchev – maps, aerophotographs, computing
V. Pomakov – Translation into English
N. Mikhov – sample collecting

sites-srebarna7.jpg (21264 bytes)About the Ramsar Convention and the present project

List of Contributors
Appendix 1. Maps

[file 1] PART 0. PREAMBLE


1.1. Date this sheet was completed/updated
1.2. Country
1.3. Name of wetland
1.4. Geographic coordinates
1.5. Altitude
1.6. Area
1.7. Overview
1.8. Wetland Type
1.9. Ramsar Criteria
1.10. Maps
1.11. Name and address of the compiler of this form
1.12. Justification of the criteria selected under item 1.9
1.13. General location
1.14. Physical characteristics
1.14.1. Geology, Geomorphology and Hydrology
1.14.2. Origin
1.14.3. Hydrology (including seasonal water level and water balance, inflow and outflow)
1.14.4. Soil types and soil characteristics
1.14.5. Nitrogen & Phosphorus Conditions in Soils & Lake Sediments
1.14.6. Water Quality
1.14.7. Depth
1.14.8. Climate
1.15. Hydrological values
1.16. Ecological characteristics
1.16.1. Main habitats and vegetation types
1.16.2. Limnological characteristics
[file 3] 1.17. Noteworthy Flora
1.17.1. Algae and Fungi (incl. Lichens)
1.17.2. Vascular Plants
1.17.3. Forests & Arboreal Plants
1.18. Noteworthy Fauna:
1.18.1. Invertebrates (Helminths and Insects excluded)
1.18.3. Insects
1.18.4. Fishes
1.18.5. Amphibians
1.18.6. Reptiles
1.18.5. Birds
1.18.7. Mammals
1.19. Social, economic and cultural values
1.20. Land tenure/ownership
1.21. Current land use
1.22. Adverse factors affecting the ecological characteristics of the site
1.23. Conservation measures taken
1.24. Conservation measures proposed but not yet implemented
1.25. Current scientific research and facilities
1.26. Current conservation education
1.27. Current recreation and tourism
1.28. Jurisdiction
1.29. Management Authority
[file 4]1.30. References


2.1. Evaluation
2.1.1. Position in the ecological unit
2.1.2. Biological diversity
2.1.3. Naturalness
2.1.4. Rarity
2.1.5. Fragility
2.1.6. Typicalness
2.1.7. Potential for improvement
2.1.8. Aesthetic, cultural and religious value
2.1.10. Education and Public Awareness
2.1.11. Recreation
2.1.12. Research/study
2.2. Ideal (long-term) management objectives
2.3. Factors influencing achievement of ideal (long-term) management objectives (constraints and modifiers):
2.3.1. Internal natural factors
2.3.2. Internal human-induced factors
2.3.3. External natural factors
2.3.4. External human-induced factors
2.3.5. Factors arising from legislation or tradition
2.3.6. Physical considerations
2.3.7. Available resources:
2.3.8. Summary of factors influencing the achievement of long-term objectives
2.4. Identification of operational objectives

[file 6] Part 3: ACTION PLAN

3.1 Work plan
3.1.1. Management options
3.2. Work programmes
3.2.1. Identifying priorities
3.2.2. Scenarios for the implementation of the Management Plan
3.2.4. Description of individual programmes and projects
3.3. Projects


For decades Bulgarian wetlands have been put to drastic changes in general, and drainage in particular for the purposes of land reclamation. Because of this shortsighted governmental policy, the total area of all the wetlands in Bulgaria at present is 20 times less than it was in the beginning of the 20th century, as described by Bonchev (1929). In the 1970-s decision-makers began to comprehend the importance of the lakes and marshes for the biodiversity by declaring parts of the lakes Atanasovsko and Vaya as protected areas, four other wetlands as Ramsar sites a. s. o. Substantial progress in that respect was achieved in 1980-s and especially in 1990-s when almost every single, more or less important, wetland was given some conservation status. However, there are some significant sites like Pomorie Lake, Vaya, and Mandra Lakes that have not yet received adequate protection.

Nature Conservation in Bulgaria, including conservation of wetlands has been developing in a favourable milieu from a legal point of view. According to the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria (see paragraph 4 of article 5) "international agreements ratified in compliance with the Constitution, published and having become effective for the Republic of Bulgaria are part of the country's internal legislation. They have priority over those legal regulations that contradict them". This text of the Constitution has a very real meaning with respect to the fact that Bulgaria is a party to a number of international conventions and treaties concerning biodiversity and habitat conservation, as is the case for instance with the Convention on conservation of wetlands as waterfowl habitat (Ramsar, 1971), the Convention on preservation of the world cultural and natural heritage (Paris, 1972), the Convention on international trade with endangered species of the wild flora and fauna - CITES (Washington, 1973), the Convention on conservation of European wild flora and fauna (Bern, 1979), the Frame Convention of UN on biodiversity (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), etc. On the strength of its obligations as a party to these and other international documents Bulgaria consistently develops its own legislation, institutions and practical activities. One of the substantial components of all this is the planning of the activities related to conservation management in order to achieve goals and values that will ensure sustainable existence and usage of the biodiversity. In this connection, of importance as phases in the above development were: the National Plan of Priority Actions in the Most Important Wetlands (1993), the National Biodiversity Conservation Strategy (1994), and the National Action Plan for Biodiversity Conservation in Bulgaria (1999), which was adopted later. The Protected Areas Act passed in 1999 incorporated the best formulations from the now effective conservation legislation and practice in the European Union and is in full accordance with basic requirements and formulations of a number of international conventions and treaties, including the Ramsar Convention, to which Bulgaria is a party. Thus one of the requirements of the Protected Areas Act is that the management of the protected areas, including wetlands, shall be based on Management Plans, adopted (and implemented) after extensive and detailed public discussions with all interested parties, NGO’s and local communities are held. Terms and conditions for the development and endorsement of management plans are regulated through specific acts of the government and its agencies as was the recently published in the state gazette "Instructions on the Elaboration of the Protected Areas Management Plans" (State Gazette No. 13/2000). The form adopted for the management plan quite resembles the one for the EUROSITE. Besides it is fully compatible with the RAMSAR form.

Responsibility for the conservation and management of the country wetlands lies with the Ministry of Environment and Waters (MoEW). According to the law the Ministry is responsible for the management of national parks, nature reserves, protected sites and monuments of nature as well as for the overall supervision of conservation activities in Bulgaria. The Ministry's strategy and policy have been outlined in detail in "The National Strategy for Biodiversity Conservation In Bulgaria" - a three-volume publication, accomplished with financial help from the American Agency for International Development (Sakalian & Meini, eds., 1993).

The Ministry of Environment and Waters, being handsomely supported by the French government and the Ramsar Convention Bureau, has developed "The National Action Plan for the Conservation of the Most Important Wetlands in Bulgaria" (Michev, ed., 1993). Wetlands included in this Plan have been classified in several categories depending on their importance for the conservation of biodiversity on global, regional and national scale. Priority activities, methods of work and required funds have also been described.

The following categories of wetlands and sites pertaining to them have been included in "The National Action Plan for the Conservation of the Most Important Wetlands in Bulgaria":

Wetlands with global importance:
Nature Reserve Srebarna
-Shabla Lake complex
Bourgas lakes including Atanasovsko Lake

Wetlands with European importance:
Nature Reserve Ropotamo including Arkutino Marsh
Nature Reserve Belene
Nature Reserve Kamchia
Protected Site 'The Old Oak Tree'

Wetlands with national importance:
Pomorie Lake
The mouths of the rivers Veleka and Silistar
Malak Preslavets Marsh
Garvan Marsh

Those of the above wetlands with their names underlined have been declared as Ramsar sites.

As may be seen from the above, Srebarna Lake holds a very prominent position among Bulgarian wetlands. Its history reflects the changes in the attitude of the Bulgarian public towards this valuable type of ecosystems during various phases of the development of conservation movement in Bulgaria. This attitude had swayed from the one extreme - the unlimited, year-round exploitation of its natural resources (until about 1948) - to the other extreme involving the full ban of all commercial activities whatsoever within its boundaries (from 1975 till now). That was the main reason to adopt, as a philosophy of the present Plan, an intermediate attitude, i.e. the thesis of wise use of the reserve's natural resources providing at the same time for all the required warrants for a long-term conservation of its biodiversity. In this way, on the one hand, the local population will get new opportunities to increase and improve its welfare and, on the other hand, the lake's wildlife will be preserved for the future generations.

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