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Important Bird Areas - Burgasko Lake

Burgasko Lake State: Burgas
Area: 3092,02 ха
Ownership: state - 87%; municipality - 7%; private - 6%;

Burgas Lake is a shallow brackish coastal lake – an open firth with a weak connection to the sea, fringed with hygrophytes. It is located to the west of the city of Burgas, its entire eastern part touching on the industrial and living quarters of the city. The lake is connected to the sea by means of a canal with a sluice. The lake’s area is mainly occupied by open water up to 1.3 m deep. The water salinity is about 10.58 %o, undergoing considerable seasonal and annual fluctuations. The banks are overgrown with a reedbed belt, composed mainly of reed Phragmites australis, reed mace Typha angustifolia, Typha latifolia, etc., which in the western and north-western parts form huge massifs. Next to the lake’s north-eastern part there are several small marsh pools, while its north-eastern part is occupied by fishponds. Wet marshy meadows, halophyte grasslands dominated by Puccinellia convoluta, meso-xerothermal grasslands mainly of Poa bulbosa, Lolium perenne, etc., farmland and pastures surround the lake (Bondev 1991; Yankov 1993).

Burgasko Lake is a part of Burgas lake complex, which is one of the three most significant wetland complexes for congregations of waterfowl along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. The region of the lake supports 245 bird species, 71 of which are listed in the Red Data Book for Bulgaria (1985). Of the birds occurring there 105 species are of European conservation concern (SPEC) (BirdLife International, 2004), 9 of them being listed in category SPEC 1 as globally threatened, 26 in SPEC 2 and 69 in SPEC 3 as species threatened in Europe. The area provides suitable habitats for 89 species included in Annex 2 of the Biodiversity Act, which need special conservation measures, of which 80 are also listed in Annex I of the Birds Directive. As the lake is located on the Via Pontica migration flyway, it is one of the most important station points in the birds’ migration along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. Especially numerous are the Pelecaniformes, Anseriformes, Charadriiformes and Ardeidae bird species. On migration the lake is an important roost for the Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus, the White Pelican P. onocrotalus and the Pygmy Cormorant Phalacrocorax pygmeus. The globally threatened Corncrake Crex crex has also been established in the region as a migrating species. Burgas Lake is of international importance for the wintering of up to 66,000 waterfowl and wetland birds, including the Pygmy Cormorant, Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo, Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus, White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons, he Pochard Aythya ferina, and Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula. The lake is the only site in Bulgaria which holds up to 7% of the Black Sea population of the White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala during the winter. The globally threatened Dalmatian Pelican and Red-breasted Goose Branta ruficollis have also been recorded there in winter. Burgas Lake is one of the most important breeding sites in the country for the Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus.

Burgas Lake is situated in the suburbs of the second big city along the Black Sea coast – Burgas. The lake is under great anthropogenic pressure because of the vicinity of the densely populated city, the big industrial facilities and the uncontrolled access outside the protected areas. Burgas Lake is sensitive to all human activities, which could affect the water regime or water quality of the wetland, and to the intensification of development. It is polluted by oil products, phenols and other chemicals by the oil refinery situated nearby. The intensive use of pesticides and fertilizers in the surrounding agriculture land causes pollution and eutrophication of the wetland. Solid wastes are found throughout the region, especially along the northern lakeshore. Recently, the Burgas community cleanup activities have increased. The wetlands in the northeast part of the lake are gradually filled in and now days 80% of them are already destroyed. Waste waters from the northern and south industrial zones of town of Burgas enter he lake through the purification station. Of special concern is waste water from the suburbs of Gorno Ezerovo and Dolno Ezerovo, as well as from some factories of the town of Burgas. The changes in the water quality of the lake affect the fish stocks and, consequently, the food base for many waterbird species. The territories around the lake are polluted and suffering from continuing urbanization. The channel that connects the lake to the sea is almost filled with mud and waste, and the movement of fish is limited to a significant extent. An international road passes along the eastern bank of the lake, causing significant waste and noise pollution. Construction of a bigger road is planned, which will result in even more anthropogenic pressure and pollution. The commersial fishing cause disturbance to birds and often the waterbirds fall into the fishing nets. The hunting is another factor which cause significant disturbanceto birds.

Legal protection:
So far 12% of the territory of Burgas Lake is under protection according to the national nature conservation legislation. The “Vaya” Protected Area covers the reedbeds in the south-western part of Burgas Lake and it is designated to protect the threatened bird species. Burgas Lake was designated as Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention in 2003. In 1989 the lake was designated as Important Bird Area by BirdLife International. In 1998 the area was appointed as CORINE Site because of its European value for rare and threatened bird species.

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