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Important Bird Areas - Chengene Skele

State: Burgas
Area: 191,19 ха
Ownership: state - 98%; municipality - 2%

A small sea bay at the estuary of the Marinka River, located to the south of the village of Kraymorie, close to the Burgas – Sozopol road. The estuary part of the river is occupied by huge and dense reedbeds, dominated by Phragmites australis, Typha angustifolia and Shoenoplectus lacustris. The bottom of the bay is covered with mud sediments that form extensive shallows about 5–10 cm deep (the only coastal mud plain in Bulgaria). The shore is a sand strip, at places interspersed with stony sections. The slopes of the river valley and the bay are overgrown with forests and shrubs of Carpinus orientalis with some Mediterranean elements, like Colutea arborеscens, etc. (Bondev 1991).

The Bay of Chengene Skele supports 180 bird species, 52 of which are listed in the Red Data Book for Bulgaria (1985). Of the birds occurring there 80 species are of European conservation concern (SPEC) (BirdLife International, 2004), 6 of them being listed in category SPEC 1 as globally threatened, 21 in SPEC 2 and 53 in SPEC 3 as species threatened in Europe. The area provides suitable habitats for 65 species, included in Annex 2 of the Biodiversity Act, which need special conservation measures, of which 58 are listed also in Annex I of the Birds Directive. Chengene Skele is of international importance for the breeding Pygmy Cormorant Phalacrocorax pygmeus and Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus. The exceptionally rare and globally threatened Slender-billed Curlew Numenius tenuirostris has been recorded at this spot several times. There are only 415 records of this species in the wild since the beginning of the 20th century to 1993. (Tucker, Heath 1994). The site is of great importance for migrating birds, especially for plovers Charadriiformes.

The territory of Chengene Skele is rather small and consequently it is very sensitive to all human activities carried out in and around the area. Hunting, fishing and the collection of plant and animals during the breeding season, as well as poaching, cause disturbance to birds. The fishing activities influence directly the fish stocks and the food of fish-eating birds. There are cases where aterbirds fall into fishery nets. The area is particularly sensitive to all kind of building activities, as well as the tourism, recreation and fishing. An international road to the south border of the country crosses the eastern part of the complex, which causes significant waste and noise pollution, as well as the deaths of small animals, including birds. There is a potential threat of large-scale oil spill from the oil pipeline, which crosses the Chengene Skele, as well as from the oil terminal of Burgas Harbour situated nearby. Part of the territory is illegally used as household and building waste deposits.

Legal protection:
About 83% of the territory of the Chengene Skele bay was designated as protected area in 1995 to protect the threatened bird species. The area was designated as Important Bird Area by BirdLife International in 1997.

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