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Important Bird Areas - Galata

Galata State: Varna
Area: 8136,74 ха
Ownership: state - 76%; municipality - 4%; private - 20%;

Galata is located in north-eastern Bulgaria, to the south of the city of Varna. It occupies the eastern part of Momino Plateau. Its territory is locked between the Black Sea coastline on the east (the southern part of Varna Bay – residential area Asparuhovo – Galata cape and Galata residential area – Zmiiski cape and camping site Rai) and the main road E87 (Varna – Burgas) in the section Bliznatsi – Priseltsi – Asparuhovo fork on the west. To the north the area borders on the road to Asparuhovo and the summer residential area. Galata includes also the significant shallow marine aquatory of Varna Bay and the sea. The area covers a limestone plateau, cut by the deep gorges of several rivers. Its northern part is higher. The coastline is fringed with steep earth and rocky slopes and landslides. In its southern, lower part there are sand strips and coastal forests. The main habitat in the region of Galata are the mixed broadleaved oak forests of Quercus cerris and Quercus frainetto, which occupy half of its total area. The other half is covered by marine area (25%), arable plots and mesophyle grass patches of Festuca pratensis, Poa sylvicola, etc. with shrubs and low trees. Around the settlements there are orchards and vineyards.

Galata supports 178 bird species, 34 of which are listed in the Red Data Book for Bulgaria (1985). Of the birds occurring there 75 species are of European conservation concern (SPEC) (BirdLife International, 2004), 1 of them being listed in category SPEC 1 as globally threatened, 22 in SPEC 2 and 50 in SPEC 3 as species threatened in Europe. The area provides suitable habitats for 61 species, included in Annex 2 of the Biodiversity Act, which need special conservation measures, of which 59 are listed also in Annex I of the Birds Directive. Galata is includes the longest still untouched coastal line on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, thus it is one of the most important sites in the country for the Mediterranean Shearwater Puffinus yelkouan, which seems to breed there. During the breeding and migration season the coastal waters ensure significant food resources for terns and gulls, including the Slender-billed Gull Larus genei, the Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis and Common Tern Sterna hirundo and these species are congregate there in considerable numbers following the fish stocks. Galata is located on the Via Pontica migration flyway and considerable numbers of soaring migrants, mainly storks, fly over the area’s coastal part. It is typical bottleneck site, where the migratory birds fly low above the land. Migratory Spoonbills Platalea leucorodia and Glossy Ibises Plegadis falcinellus also occur during migration along the coastline. Coastal forest habitats provide suitable conditions for breeding of representative numbers of the Semi-collared Flycatcher Ficedula semitorquata, the Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus, the Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius and the Woodlark Lullula arborea. The mosaic grassland-scrub habitats hold good populations of Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana. The coastal rocky and steppe-like habitats holds representative breeding population of the Pied Wheatear Oenanthe pleshanka.

The region of Galata is particularly sensitive to human activities related to deterioration of grassland and forest habitats, building activities, as well as constructions of high facilities both on the land and the sea. The area is sensitive particularly to activities related to forest management, as well as general development of the area. Intensive forest management, including also removal of dead threes and intensive cutting affect to a significant extend the forest habitats. Coastal areas are subject to intensive urbanization because of the development of tourism during the last decade. It causes deterioration and even loss of coastal habitats at the places accessible by tourists. There are still large coastal areas without access but further development of road infrastructure could put under threat these areas as well. The sallow marine area along the coast is sensitive to overexploitation of fish resources, trailing manner of collection of mussels as well as building of high facilities. A potential development of wind turbine farms in this particular area will disturb the free movement of soaring migratory birds, especially of and wintering birds, and will limit to a significant extent the access of birds to the suitable habitats. They will be a barrier for thousands of migratory soaring birds and night migrants on their flyway to the south and north and will cause significant mortality of birds and further decline in their populations.

Legal protection:
Galata does not have legal protection according to the national nature conservation legislation. There are only two protected areas, which cover much less than 1% of the site territory. These are “Rakitnik” Protected Area, designated in 1878 to protect the threatened plant species and “Liman” Protected Area, designated in 1979 to protect the threatened bird species. About 4% of the site is covered by Galata CORINE Site, which was designated in 1998 because of its European value for rare and threatened habitats, plant and animal species, including birds. In 2005 it was designated also as Important Bird Area by BirdLife International.

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