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Conservation and restoration of 11 Natura 2000 riparian and wetland habitats in 10 sites in Bulgarian forests

В Рила се намират едни от първите защитени територии в България 
	© Katerina Rakovska/WWF
В Рила се намират едни от първите защитени територии в България
© Katerina Rakovska/WWF
The diversity, quantity and quality of the areas make them sites of considerable national and European significance
About 21,000 hectares will be preserved or restored. The preservation of the area will be ensured through placement of specialized facilities (fences, grilles, bridges, tourist spots) on surface totaling 240.6 ha to limit the human pressure (human access and vehicles passing) and through removal of anthropogenic waste from 97.5 ha.

As a result of the restoration activities under the project, the alien species on an area of 76.5 ha will be removed and 80 ha will be restored by planting local trees and shrubs. In addition, approximately 1.4 ha will be restored by planting characteristic plants.

In Bulgaria there is very limited experience in management and restoration of riparian and wetland natural habitat types. The current project is a pilot one and will give an opportunity for creating, demonstrating and promoting good practices on conservation and restoration of such Natura 2000 habitat types in the country. The project will create conditions for passing over the lessons learned and multiplication of the good practice in the rest of the sites managed by the SFA and in the country as a whole.

Another important objective is creating awareness and better understanding of Natura 2000 among specialized audience and broader public, as well as improving expert capacity. This will create better information and awareness among the main stakeholders (institutions, local authorities and communities in the project areas) of Natura 2000 as an instrument for nature conservation.

The ten sites targeted by the project are managed by the State Forestry Agency (SFA) and the activities on conservation and restoration of favourable conservation status of habitats and their characteristic species will continue to be implemented by the staff of SFA after the project completion.

The project budget is 1 236 834 Euros, including 615 199 Euros LIFE + co-financing.
Official logo of Life programme of EU 
	© EU
Official logo of Life programme of EU
© EU
Official logo of Natura 2000 network of EC 
	© EU
Official logo of Natura 2000 network of EC
© EU
Logo of Forestry Executive Agency, Bulgaria 
	© IAG
Logo of Forestry Executive Agency, Bulgaria
© IAG

Actions and means involved

 
	© Andreas Beckmann
3 600 volunteers removed 12 truck loads of waste from Bulgaria's 11 nature parks during Clean Up Naure Day on May 14
© Andreas Beckmann
The project will be implemented over a 3½ year period
The project will be implemented by a partnership between the State Forestry Agency (SFA) and a WWF Danube-Carpathian Program Bulgaria.

The project will start with a preparatory phase – the 10 project sites will be studied in detail to determine the best restoration sites and select the most appropriate restoration techniques. Technological and technical planning of the restoration activities and the specialized infrastructure will be done, methodologies will be developed, and the necessary permit and agreement procedures for the restoration/construction implementation will be carried out.

The direct conservation activities include:

- Direct restoration of 6 riparian and wetland habitats. Alien and non-local vegetation will be removed from 76.5 ha. Localities for reproduction material (seeds, cuttings) will be selected. A gene bank for local poplar species will be created on 20 decares. 800 decares of the 6 habitats will be restored through planting of seeds, saplings and cuttings of local vegetation in the selected restoration sites.

The afforestation practices, which will be used for the habitat restoration, exist in the country but until now are applied only in the intensive forestry and not in the restoration of natural habitats. Their application and test for Natura 2000 habitat conservation and restoration will be part of the project’s demonstration element.

- 13 plant species characteristic of the target habitats will be restored in situ in 4 of the project sites. This includes collection of mature plants or reproduction material and cultivation of plants and restoration on site. The species to be restored are White and Yellow Water Lily, Water Chestnut, European Waterclover, Angelica panchicii, Rheum raponticum, Primula deorum, Drosera rotundifolia, Menianthes trifoliata, Taxus baccata, Ilex colchica, and Daphne pontica.

The methodology for species restoration, the information and awareness materials created for the above listed species which proved successful will be disseminated after the project. The ex-situ production and in situ restoration of plant species like Primula deorum, Angelica pancicii, Drosera rotundifolia and Menianthes trifoliata through seeds, and Vaccinium arctostaphylos, Ilex colchica, Daphne pontica through cuttings will be putting into practices methodologies which are new for the project sites and in Bulgaria in general.

- 6 target habitats will be protected from degradation through placement of specialized infrastructure and facilities to redirect tourist flow and limit access in sensitive areas – wooden fences, wooden grilles to lift tourist routes, wooden bridges, tourist rest and information spots (with shelters, benches, fireplaces and information boards) and information/redirection signs.

- 100 ha of the target habitats will be cleaned from anthropogenic pollution in all 10 sites – by professional cleaning and by volunteers.