Green Balkans Pomorie BBF Tour du valat Life Programme Natura2000

The Project

Conservation of Pomorie Lake coastal lagoon LIFE 19 / NAT / BG / 000804

Pomorie Lake is part of the most important complex of wetlands on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. It is important for the EU as a rare type of ecosystem and as a place where 40% of all European bird species can be observed. The extraction of sea salt in Lake Pomorie has been practiced for thousands of years and nowadays active salt pans produce sea salt by solar evaporation.
The lake (760 ha) is a Natura 2000 zone, respectively BG0000620 Pomorie (2085.15 ha) and BG0000152 Pomorie Lake (921.52 ha). This is a national protected area and a Ramsar site. This project is aimed at the protection of the priority habitats Coastal lagoons (1150 *) and bird species from Annex 1 to the Birds Directive (Avocet, Little Tern, Sandwich Tern and Common tern) in Pomorie Lake.

The hydrological regime of the Pomorie salt waters is determined by the inflow of seawater through an artificial open channel connecting the lake with the Black Sea and penetration through the sandy line. Two bypass canals (South -760 m and North - 4580 m) collect the entire surface water flow of precipitation and melting snow in the catchment area of ​​33.55 km2, where the lake is the lowest point.

Changes in the status of water bodies and surface water pollution are noted as the most important threats to the habitat of the coastal lagoon in several European countries (EIONET, 2014). In the case of Lake Pomorie, these factors are most obvious for 1150 *. The main conservation problems are the degradation of coastal lagoon habitats due to changes in hydrological conditions caused by the destruction of water management facilities and insufficiently safe breeding grounds for priority bird species.

The LIFE 19 / NAT / BG / 000804 project is necessary due to the effect of the floods that occurred in December 2014 and April 2015, when 72 l / m2 were registered in the lake. These catastrophic events have damaged the surrounding canals and eroded the protective dikes, leading to reduced salinity. Mud and unwanted vegetation blocked the canals and significantly reduced their capacity and protective functions.

The compromised infrastructure has caused inefficient water circulation. The average salinity of the water in the lagoon in December 2010 (after reconstruction under a GEF project) is 30.98 %, while in May 2019 it was 12.58 %. The reduced salinity has led to the development of macrophytes, which are the main food base for ducks and a change in the species composition of birds (from rain whistles to ducks) during migration and in winter. In addition, the degradation of 1150 * is evident from the increased growth of microalgae in more than 33% of the habitat area in 2019. This is a result of increased eutrophication due to the inflow of polluted surface and groundwater from neighboring lands.

The low salt production and infrastructural damage from the floods led to limited opportunities for important investments in maintenance activities by Pomorie Saltpans EOOD. The unfavorable economic situation leads to the risk of withdrawal of private interests and future investments.

In recent years, the pressure on the habitat 1150 * is very strong - drainage and upgrading of neighboring small wetlands, increased agriculture, extreme weather conditions and most of them are associated with disturbed water regime, which affects water quality and directly destroys the coastal lagoon. Several parameters of the favorable conservation status of habitat 1150 * are affected.

Key project objectives are:

  • to establish a functional infrastructure for water management in Pomorie Lake to secure the lagoon against flood and limit the pollution, and to sustain traditional salt production;
  • to provide long-term improvement of priority habitat 1150* Coastal lagoon in SCI Pomorie;
  • tо improve the breeding sites for priority bird species by the construction of one new wooden platform and the restoration of existing islet’;
  • to promote the project results among the stakeholders and the wide public.

Expected results and impacts

The present project shall significantly contribute to securing viable solutions towards improving the conservation status of the priority habitat Coastal lagoons (1150*) in SCI Pomorie (BG0000620). It will deliver towards enhancing the habitat conditions for a suite of bird species, listed in Annex 1 of the BD in SPA Pomoriysko ezero (BG0000152).
The project actions address described threats to the Pomorie Lake lagoon that contribute to the longterm decline of the priority habitat 1150*, covering 23.18% of the SCI area. The conservation action C1 will result in enhancing key parameters, indicative for the FCS of the target habitat. However, the overall positive impact on the whole Pomorie Lake site is anticipated in the long run.

We expect to:
  • Improve flood protection and reduce pollution from surface water in at least 221 ha (33%) of the area of priority 1150* at SCI Pomorie –second largest site in Bulgaria hosting this habitat;
  • Restore 5340 m bypass channels around the Western perimeter of Pomorie Lake and 6460 m of dykes that protect Lake from freshwater inflow and improve water circulation - important condition to avoid eutrophication;
  • to be increased the average salinity with min. 50% and to be (over 25‰). The habitat, created and enhanced through Actions C2, will be important for improving the conditions for the nesting birds in Pomorie Lake.
We expect to:
  • Create one new platform for the breeding of Terns and Avocets to increase nesting habitat for target bird species with an area of 36m2;
  • Restore 250 m2 of existing breeding habitat for target bird species;
  • Recover the importance of SPA Pomoriysko ezero for migrating waders which numbers have decreased in the last 5 years during the migration and winter as a result of the lower salinity.

In addition to this, two conservation camps will be organized and more than 30 volunteers will be trained to build islets and will get familiar with the conservation of the coastal lagoon.
The impact of project activities on biodiversity will be monitored and annual reports will be produced.