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Important Bird Areas - Malak Preslavets Marsh

State: Silistra
Area: 375,06 ха
Ownership: state - 19%; municipality - 78%; private - 3%;

Malak Preslavets is located in north-eastern Bulgaria, 33 km to the west of Silistra, on the Danube riverbank, in the grounds of the village of Malak Preslavets. Its altitude is about 13 m. It is an eutrophic lake with constant water level, maintained by karst waters and rainfall. On its Danube side there is a dyke with a sluice. The water basin is about 4 m deep. Its banks are overgrown with reed Phragmites australis and the reed mace Typha latifolia, T. angustifolia and T. laxmanii. The open water surface is partly covered by floating vegetation dominated by Nymphaea alba. On the west and east of it there are low hills, covered by natural mixed broadleaved forests, dominated by Silver Lime Tilia tomentosa. They are about 50 – 60 years old and the tree stand is about 8-10 m high.

In spite of its small area the Malak Preslavets supports 56 bird species, 7 of which are listed in the Red Data Book for Bulgaria (1985). Of the birds occurring there 20 species are of European conservation concern (SPEC) (BirdLife International, 2004), 1 of them being listed in category SPEC 1 as globally threatened, 2 in SPEC 2 and 17 in SPEC 3 as species threatened in Europe. The area provides suitable habitats for 14 species, included in Annex 2 of the Biodiversity Act, which need special conservation measures, of which 13 are listed also in Annex I of the Birds Directive. Because of its depth the lake is mainly open water, holding a substantial association of Water Lily Nymphaea alba, which is a good base for the species breeding there – the Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus, the Moorhen Gallinula chloropus and the Coot Fulica atra. The reed belt around the lake is considerably smaller, with an extension only in the water mirror “tail”. This is why the species breeding there are much less numerous than in the other wetlands in the region, which are dominated by reed. Malak Preslavets is one of the most important sites in the country on a European Union scale for the Whiskered Tern. The Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus, the Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea and the Levant Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes also breed there.

The Malak Preslavets Lake entirely depends on its connection to the Danube and the maintenance of the water regime. The use of pesticides and fertilizers in the surrounding arable land causes change of the chemistry and the water quality. As the wetland is very small it is highly sensitive to the human activities that take place at both at the lake and around it. The most serious threat to the area is the disturbance to the birds caused mainly by fishing, but also hunting and collecting of animals.

Legal protection:
About 10% of the territory of Malak Preslavets is covered by the Protected Area “Malak Preslavets Marsh”. In 2005 it was designated as Important Bird Area by BirdLife International. The proposed SPA borders a proposed Special Protection Area in Romania.

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