The Ramsar Secretariat is pleased to announce that the Government of Bulgaria adds Dragoman Marsh Karst Complex (14,967 ha; 42º56'N 023º01'E) to the Ramsar List. The site is also registered as a Protected area and a Natura 2000 site. The area is situated in west Bulgaria, Sofia district. It consists of marshes, wet meadows, several karst springs, two artificial lakes, including the Petarch Fishponds, and the Blato River. Dragoman marsh itself is the biggest limestone marsh in Bulgaria and is particularly rich in biodiversity.
As summarised by Kati Wenzel, Assistant Advisor for Europe, 256 bird species (61% of Bulgarian avifauna) have been recorded within the site, including internationally endangered species like Saker Falcon Falco cherrug and the Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca. Breeding bird species include Ferruginous duck Aythya nyroca and Great bittern Botaurus stellaris. The area is also important as a stopover site for water bird species like Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus and Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa. Additionally, many other species can be found that are protected on an international, European or national level. This includes amphibians (e.g. Southern Crested Newt Triturus karelinii), reptiles (e.g. European Pond Turtle Emys orbicularis), mammals (including bats like the Barbastelle Bat Barbastella barbastellus and others such as the Lesser Mole Rat Nannospalax leucodon and the Marbled Polecat Vormela peregusna) butterflies (e.g. Large Copper Lycaena dispar), dragonflies and vascular plant species (e.g.: the Waterwheel Plant Aldrovanda vesiculosa, and orchid Himantoglossum caprinum). 10 plant species, including tulip species (Tulipa urumoffii) are endemic either to Bulgaria or the Balkan Peninsula.
The site also has an important role in flood control and ensures good water quality for the surrounding villages. Threats include pollution by untreated wastewaters and a big quarry located within the boundaries of the site. A Wetland Conservation Centre was opened in Dragoman city in 2009 and a website is under preparation (www.balkani.org/wetlands).
Photos © Assoc.Prof. Dr. Yordan Uzunov
Department of Aquatic Ecosystem, Head
Institute of Biodiversity & Ecosystem Research Bulgarian Academy of Sciences