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Collaborative management for conservation of forest and grassland habitats negatively affected by IAS in Bulgaria

Reference: LIFE16 NAT/BG/000856 | Acronym: LIFE IAS Free Habitats



The goal of the project was to improve and maintain the conservation status of four (two of which priority) of the rarest and highly vulnerable natural habitat types in Bulgaria, as well аs to improve the institutional capacity for addressing invasive alien plant species (IAS) related conservation issues. Thus it contributed to the implementation of the Union nature and biodiversity policy and legislation, including the Union Biodiversity Strategy to 2020, and the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC.

Main conservation issues targeted were:

  • Low natural regeneration of the Juniperus excelsa
  • Overgrowing of competitive plant species including IAS
  • Overgrazing of grasslands and illegal grazing in the forests
  • Fragmentation and degradation
  • Lack of knowledge and experience of the land owners and managers for improvement of the conservation status and maintenance of the habitats and control of IAS 



Specific objectives were to:

  • Improve the conservation status of priority forest habitat 9560* in the SCI BG0001030, through dedicated set of conservation measures
  • Remove IA plant species and maintain the conservation status of priority forest habitat 9180* in the SCI BG0000494 through dedicated set of conservation measures
  • Improve the conservation status of grassland habitats 6510 and 6210 in the SCI BG0001493 through dedicated set of conservation measures
  • Improve the knowledge and experience of stakeholders and land managers for management and control of IAS, in Natura 2000 sties
  • Increase the institutional and stakeholders’ capacity and experience (national and regional authorities, managers of sites, owners of land) for management of targeted habitats, within Natura 2000 sites;
  • Stimulate the inter-institutional collaboration between stakeholders and authorities at regional and national level.



The LIFE IAS Free Habitats project achieved the following results:

Habitat 9560*Endemic Forests with Juniperus spp.:

  • The project made a breakthrough in the reproduction of Juniperus Excelsa on EU level by succeeding in cuttings rooting and transplantation of young specimens, found in the project territory, to places that provide them the best chance of survival. Both methods proved to be promising and are being further developed and monitored so the new specimens grow stable.
  • As a result of our field verification, data and recommendations the habitat’s territory in the BG0001030 SDF was significantly increased from 2,59 ha to 54,83 ha in the EC data base. This is 4,54% of the area of the habitat’ national territory. The assessment of the area is improved by the indicator Representability from B to A and by the Relative Surface from C to B, as a result of our proposal.
  • The IAS trees were removed from an area of 1,5 ha and the threat of their negative impact was reduced on 54,83 ha.
  • Improved the conditions for the development of the Juniperus Excelsa on a total area of 54,78 ha in the habitat 9560*.
  • At about 450 living cuttings will be taken care of after the end of the project. The rooted ones will be left to grow for another year and used to restore habitat 9560* in the „Izgorialoto Gune“ Maintained Reserve.
  • Around the berry-bearing specimens (2.00-215 pcs.), an average of 5-6 sprouts were observed, at the end of the project. Their expected number is between 1000 and 1290. They will be transplanted in the habitat, as soon as they are strong enough.
  • The sustainability of those results is ensured by the Conservation Programme developed and adopted by the key stakeholders.

Priority forest habitat 9180*Tilio-Acerion forests of slopes, screes and ravines:

  • The habitat area in the NATURA zone is increased with more than 24,04 ha. The data has been provided to the MoEW for updating the zone's SDF.
  • Produced saplings of habitat-specific species of trees, shrubs and vines and planted 33,234 saplings on 8.41 ha. Recovered 0,51 ha more than the planned 7,9 ha.
  • Removed competitive plant species and IAS on 14,46 ha. Removed 5,01 ha more IAS trees and shrubs than planned 7,9 ha. Reduced IA plant species threat and negative impacts on 1333,12 ha.
  • Protected 2,02 ha of habitat from erosion
  • The Conservation Programme ensures the sustainability of the results. It was developed and supported by the Agreement signed with the Central Balkan National Park Directorate - the territory’s manager.

Grassland habitats 6510 Lowland hay meadows and 6210 Semi-natural dry grassland and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia):

  • The area with improved conservation status is 19,9 ha bigger than planned.
  • 56,89 ha of grassland habitats 6510 and 6210 with improved conservation status – species composition, habitat structure and functions
  • Nitrophilous and ruderal species removed and controlled on 30,61 ha.
  • The data about the area and distribution of the habitats 6510 and 6210 in the SCI BG0001493 „Tsentralen Balkan – buffer was revised and updated. The SCI’s SDF is updated.
  • The IAS trees and shrubs (Robinia pseudoacacia, Amorpha fruticosa, Ailanthus altissima, Gleditsia triacanthos) were removed from 5,9 ha of grasslands.
  • The IAS removal and the knowledge sharing among the stakeholders for their eradication provided for reducing the risk of IAS and their negative impact on the grassland habitats in the whole BG0001493 site.
  • Demonstrated cost-effective measures for 6510 and 6210 habitats improvement and best practice methods for IAS eradication to all key stakeholders.
  • Following our proposal, the MOEW allowed for selective use of herbicides for IAS trees and shrubs control and removal from the landscape features (green infrastructure) in the grasslands, in the Natura 2000 sites declaration orders.
  • The Karlovo Municipality accepted the proposed conservation measures and included them in the famers’ tenant model contract for the municipal lands, that is used for all municipal meadows and pastures. Thus a legal base was established for better grasslands management and maintenance in a long term.
The Conservation plan for the 6510 and 6210 habitats in BG BG0001493 “Tsentralen Balkan buffer” Natura 2000 site was shared with the stakeholders and adopted by the key for the project results Municipality of Karlovo.


Reference: LIFE16 NAT/BG/000856
Acronym: LIFE IAS Free Habitats
Start Date: 02/10/2017
End Date: 03/10/2022
Total Eligible Budget: 850,611 €
EU Contribution: 637,950 €


Coordinating Beneficiary: Information and Nature Conservation Foundation
Legal Status: PNC
Address: Yavorov H.Est., bl. 29, entr. V, ap. 7, 1111, Sofia,
Contact Person: Svetlana Aladjem
Email: Send Email
Website: Visit Website

LIFE Project Map



  • Invasive species
  • Forests
  • Grasslands


  • forest ecosystem
  • grassland ecosystem
  • geographic information system
  • nature conservation
  • management plan


  • Regulation 1143/2014 - Prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species (22.10.2014)
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directive (21.05.1992)
  • COM(2011) 244 final “Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020” (03.05.2011)


  • 6510 - "Lowland hay meadows (Alopecurus pratensis, Sanguisorba officinalis)"
  • 9180 - "Tilio-Acerion forests of slopes, screes and ravines"
  • 9560 - Endemic forests with Juniperus spp.


Code Name Type Version
Tsentralen Balkan BG0000494 SPA and SCI/SAC v.2021
Rodopi - Zapadni BG0001030 SCI/SAC v.2021
Tsentralen Balkan - bufer BG0001493 SCI/SAC v.2021
Zapadni Rodopi BG0002063 SPA v.2021
Tsentralen Balkan bufer BG0002128 SPA v.2021


Name Type
Information and Nature Conservation Foundation Coordinator
Eco Forum - for the Nature, Bulgaria Participant
Foundation for organic agriculture “Bioselena”, Bulgaria Participant


Type Resource
Project web site Project website
Poster "Коварните нашес твеници - Да опазим природата и здравето си от инвазивните чужди растения!" (2,148MB)
Publication Layman report
Publication After-LIFE Conservation Plan
Slides Presentation "Видове ИЧВ - представяне" (1,95MB)
Slides Presentation "Инвазивните чужди видове растения – наистина ли са проблем?" (4,48MB)
Slides Presentation "Контрол на инвазивни чужди видове дървета и храсти" (1MB)
Slides Presentation “Местообитания свободни от инвазивни чужди растения” (5,95MB)