LIFE Project Cover Photo

Urgent Measures to Restore and Secure Long-term Preservation of the Atanasovsko Lake Coastal Lagoon

Reference: LIFE11 NAT/BG/000362 | Acronym: Salt of Life

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

BACKGROUND

Atanasovsko Lake is part of the Burgas lakes complex, one of the three most significant wetlands for congregations of waterfowl along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. The Atanasovsko Lake region currently supports 333 bird species, 127 of which are listed in the IUCN Red Data Book of Bulgaria and identified by Birdlife as Species of European Conservation Concern (SPEC).

Atanasovsko Lake is located on the Via Pontica migration flyway and is a typical bottleneck for migrating birds from northern, eastern and central Europe (up to 240 000 storks and up to 60 000 birds of prey). It is the site with the largest concentrations of migrating White pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus), Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus), Marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus) and Red-footed falcon (Falco vespertinus) in Europe, and second, for the Lesser spotted eagle (Aquila pomarina) after the Bosporus.

The key bird species targeted in the project are Collared Pratincole (Glareola pratincola), Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus), Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta), Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus), Little Tern (Sterna albifrons), Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis).

The Natura 2000 site Atanasovsko Lake is the most representative of the habitat 1150* Coastal lagoons in Bulgaria and the second most representative site within the EU Black Sea Biogeographical Region after the Danube Delta. The lagoon in Atanasovsko Lake represents 6% of the coverage of this habitat in the EU Black Sea Biogeographical Region and 57% of its coverage in the Bulgarian Black Sea Biogeographical Region.

The main pressures for the Coastal lagoons? habitat in Atanasovsko Lake come from the change in water body conditions, floods, degraded connection with the sea, pollution from the surface waters and eutrophication. The disastrous flood that took place in 2010 destroyed water management facilities and changes of the hydrological and hydrochemical conditions in the Lake. The bypass channel, located around the whole lagoon was blocked by silt and vegetation. The protective dyke was broken on three places where freshwater inflow to the Lake which decreased the salinity of the lagoon. The Lake was completely freshwater. The level of the Lake had risen with 1.20 m from the incoming fresh water and these compromised the key parameters of the priority habitat Coastal lagoons.

The flood had damaged around one-third of the total length of the dykes and barriers systems (more than 30 km). The degradation of the dykes and barriers caused a loss of valuable nesting and roosting sites and was considered as one of the main reasons for the decline of the populations of ground-nesting birds.

The designation order of the SPA Atanasovsko Lake does not provide an adequate guarantee for the long-term protection of the bird species and their habitats. The designation order of the SCI Atanasovsko Lake does not exist and the Natura 2000 site does not have a management plan.


OBJECTIVES

The main goal of the Salt of Life Project was to establish a functional, efficient and sustainable infrastructure for water management and the control of the coastal lagoon in Atanasovsko Lake and to provide long-term improvements to habitat conditions and enable adaptation to the effects of climate change. The project also aimed to: reduce the impact of threats to the lake?s bird species through sustainable habitat management; monitor and evaluate the effects of the proposed habitat restoration measures on the lagoon; improve the visitor experience at the site and disseminate the project results to a wide audience; and enhance public understanding of the ecological, economic and social values of the coastal lagoons and raise support for the conservation of habitats and bird species.


RESULTS

The Salt of Life Project successfully contributed to the restoration of the favourable conservation status of the Coastal Lagoon habitat of Atanasovsko Lake on Bulgaria?s Black Sea coast, to the benefit of the targeted bird species.

The project partners restored traditional salt production infrastructure, which resulted in the restoration of 12 000 m earth dykes, 6 000 m of wooden barriers, and the construction of 2 500 m of a new type of small dykes, which together provide 10.88 ha of suitable nesting and roosting sites for bird species protected under Annex I of the EU Birds Directive.

One important achievement was the cleaning of the bypass channel (22 930 m) and the full restoration of the protective dyke of the lagoon. The restored channel can now lead all the freshwater inflow securely to the sea, resulting in an almost constant water level inside the Lake even during the strongest rainfall events. This is very important for the favourable conditions of the hypersaline coastal lagoon. The newly emerged area of freshwater habitat in the Bypass channel (27 ha) favours the fresh water-dependent organisms.

The project team constructed or restored five artificial islands providing additional and safe nesting grounds for several bird species of conservation importance. This involved the construction of the largest Bulgarian artificial island for nesting and resting of Dalmatian pelicans (144 m2), as well as the repair of four existing artificial islands with a total area of more than 500 m2.

The artificial islands provided suitable conditions for the Common tern and the species has increased its numbers 10 times since the project start, turning Atanasovsko Lake into the most important site for it in Bulgaria. The Gull-billed tern returned as a nesting bird to Bulgaria after 18 years of absence. Its population in Atanasovsko Lake has reached 3% of the European population. All key bird species show a positive trend in their nesting behaviour. The project targeted the CoastThe Salt of Life Project successfully contributed to the restoration of the favourable conservation status of the Coastal Lagoon habitat of Atanasovsko Lake on Bulgaria?s Black Sea coast, to the benefit of the targeted bird species.

The project partners restored traditional salt production infrastructure, which resulted in the restoration of 12 000 m earth dykes, 6 000 m of wooden barriers, and the construction of 2 500 m of a new type of small dykes, which together provide 10.88 ha of suitable nesting and roosting sites for bird species protected under Annex I of the EU Birds Directive.

One important achievement was the cleaning of the bypass channel (22 930 m) and the full restoration of the protective dyke of the lagoon. The restored channel can now lead all the freshwater inflow securely to the sea, resulting in an almost constant water level inside the Lake even during the strongest rainfall events. This is very important for the favourable conditions of the hypersaline coastal lagoon. The newly emerged area of freshwater habitat in the Bypass channel (27 ha) favours the fresh water-dependent organisms.

The project team constructed or restored five artificial islands providing additional and safe nesting grounds for several bird species of conservation importance. This involved the construction of the largest Bulgarian artificial island for nesting and resting of Dalmatian pelicans (144 m2), as well as the repair of four existing artificial islands with a total area of more than 500 m2.

The artificial islands provided suitable conditions for the Common tern and the species has increased its numbers 10 times since the project start, turning Atanasovsko Lake into the most important site for it in Bulgaria. The Gull-billed tern returned as a nesting bird to Bulgaria after 18 years of absence. Its population in Atanasovsko Lake has reached 3% of the European population. All key bird species show a positive trend in their nesting behaviour. The project targeted the Coast

ADMINISTRATIVE DATA


Reference: LIFE11 NAT/BG/000362
Acronym: Salt of Life
Start Date: 01/07/2012
End Date: 31/08/2018
Total Budget: 2,013,027 €
EU Contribution: 1,450,558 €
Project Location:
Project Website:

CONTACT DETAILS


Coordinating Beneficiary: Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation
Legal Status: NGO
Address: 39-41 Vesletz Str. fl. 4, ap.11, 1202, Sofia, Bulgaria Balgarija
Contact Person: Radostina Tzenova
Email: radostina.tzenova@biodiversity.bg
Tel: +35956987959
Fax:


LIFE Project Map

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ADDRESSED

THEMES

  • Freshwater

KEYWORDS

  • lake
  • coastal area
  • restoration measure
  • endangered species

TARGET EU LEGISLATION

  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directive (21.05.1992)
  • Directive 79/409 - Conservation of wild birds (02.04.1979)

TARGET HABITAT TYPES

  • 1150 - Coastal lagoons
  • 1310 - Salicornia and other annuals colonizing mud and sand
  • 1410 - Mediterranean salt meadows (Juncetalia maritimi)
  • 1530 - Pannonic salt steppes and salt marshes
  • 2110 - Embryonic shifting dunes
  • 6110 - Rupicolous calcareous or basophilic grasslands of the Alysso-Sedion albi

SPECIES

  • Glareola pratincola
  • Gelochelidon nilotica
  • Charadrius alexandrinus
  • Recurvirostra avosetta
  • Himantopus himantopus
  • Sterna hirundo
  • Sterna albifrons
  • Sterna sandvicensis
  • Alectoris barbara

NATURA 2000 SITES

Type Code Name
SPA BG0000270 Atanasovsko ezero

BENEFICIARIES

Name Type
Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation Coordinator
Bourgas Salinas, Bulgaria Participant
Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds Participant

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