Partners

Enez District Governorship is a public body which is a local authority and responsible for the whole district of Enez, Edirne. Many governmental offices such as District Director of National Education, District Director of National Health, District Director of Sports, etc. are coordinated by Enez District Governorship. Enez is one of the districts of Edirne which is near the Greek border in the Thrace region in Turkey. The town is located on the left (eastern) bank of the Merich river where its estuary broadens to flow into the Gulf of Saros, the ancient Melas Gulf, and so into the Aegean Sea. One of the main aims of the institution are informing and raising awareness of the environmental issues and promoting modern and interactive educational programs in this domain; promoting self-fulfilment and personal development of young people through educational programs of the European Union and developing non-formal education, intercultural dialogue, international cooperation and active civil society. As well, the institution is focusing on: – To improve the quality of life of children and youth through professional and volunteer work with promotion healthy ways of life through protection of the environment; – To promote informal education, voluntarism, ecology, preventing of unwanted forms of behaviors developing of healthy ways of living – To promote multiculturalism and peace, – To promote active citizenship, solidarity, tolerance and understanding. In the project frame the lead partner will provide the needful expertise in the themes relating to the establishment of the educational packages and methodology on river and marine litter. Also, the Lead partner has the needful experience, knowledge, financial and human resources for successfully management of the project.

Dated 06.29.2011 No. 645, the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs of the Organization and Duties As stated in Article 12 of Law Decree; biodiversity and nature protection in order to ensure all necessary business and operations within our borders Division Directorate; planning activites, design, implementation, maintenance and inspection related to national parks, wetlands and hunting; planning and implementing about education, publicity and publications. In accordance to this decree, our organization is responsible for the protection of species and making monitoring studies. In this context, biodiversity and inventory work of Edirne province was built by our organization. Studies showed that species protection action plans mus be done for some species for example red wood ants. The organization is responsible to prepare species protection action plans and to make monitoring studies. Division Directorate has the needful experience in management of protected areas and management of monitoring, promotion and protection activities relating to the conservation of the local natural resources. Institution works under the coordination of the Istanbul Regional Directorate of Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs. As a part from this regional directorate the local division directorate has the needful financial and human resources for successfully implementation of the current project.

GALA LAKE

  • Gala Lake is Turkey’s 36th park in Enez, Edirne. In 2005, the lake was declared a national park. The borders of the lake are located in ipsala and Enez districts. The total area of national park is 6.807 ha’dır. The wetland in national park is 3087 ha’dır. There are 3000 ha forest area in the area. The Meriç Delta Wetland Conservation Areas, where Gala Lake National Park is also located, was approved by the National Wetland Commission at the second ordinary meeting of 2008, dated 06/11/2008. It is area is 274,900 decares. It is  class A wetland.
  • Evros Delta Wetlands Turkey’s Key Biodiversity Areas, Important Bird Areas and Important Plant Areas found in the list, and three to the Ramsar Criteria (4th, 5th and 6th to the benchmark) has.The most important resource value of the area is wetlands and water birds that use this place as a shelter, feeding, accommodation and breeding environment.There are 217 bird species in the National Park, of which 65 are domestic, 55 are winter migrants, 59 are summer migrants and 38 are transit migratory birds.  Besides the bird species, 26 fish species have been identified in the Gala Lake. These species are fish with high economic value such as eel, sudak, carp and pike A total of 1028 species were identified in Gala Lake National Park, including 511 plant taxa (veined plant 491, seedless plant 20) and 517 animal species (322 vertebrate species, 195 invertebrate species).

Agricola is Ukrainian not-profit organization copiresed of individual experts, organizations and SME who support sustainable development and livelihoods, protection of cultural heritage, and nature conservation.

 

Agricola promotes:

  1. Development of nature tours in accordance with international standards, appropriate tourism to natural, historical and cultural sites and monuments
  2. Preserving species and protecting wildlife habitats, prevention of environmental damage, contributing to the improvement of the legal regulation of nature protection and cultural heritage
  3. Improvement of ecological knowledge and assisting the efforts of citizens for environmental protection
  4. Ensuring the wise usage of natural products.
  5. Promotion of production, consumption and development of ecological food products, grown using organic production technologies.

Adress: Ukraine, Reni, 3-go gvardeyskogo polku str, 13

Director of NGO Agricola: Volodymyr Poltorak

E-mail: agricola.ua@gmail.com

Phone: +380682014177

Danube Biosphere Reserve (UA)

  • The Danube Biosphere Reserve (until 1998, the Danube Plavni Reserve) is an nature conservation and research organization, situated on Vylkove (Ukraine). The territory of the Danube Biosphere Reserve is located in the north-eastern part of the Danube Delta within Ukraine in the vicinity of the city of Vilkovo, Kiliysky district of Odessa region. In the east, Reserve borders on the Black Sea, and in the south – with Romania. The constituent natural and territorial parts of the Reserve are the secondary (sea) delta of the Kilia Branch, the Zhebriyanskaya ridge, the Stentsovo-Zhebriyansk plains and the Ermakov island. In addition, Decree of the President of Ukraine No. 117/2004 of February 2, 2004 included rather autonomous territories in the Reserve — the headwaters of Lake Sasyk and Dzhantshey estuary. The total area of Reserve along with channels, inland water bodies, a 2-kilometer strip of the Black Sea and the sites included in 2004 is 50,252.9 ha. By the decision of the International Coordinating Committee of the UNESCO Program “Man and the Biosphere” of December 9, 1998, the reserve was included in the global network of biosphere reserves as part of the bilateral Romanian-Ukrainian biosphere reserve “Danube Delta”.
  • Danube Delta the most important resource value is wetlands and water birds that use this place as a shelter, feeding, accommodation and breeding environment. The flora of the Danube Biosphere Reserve totals about 950 species of vascular plants belonging to 371 genera and 97 families. By the number of species of fauna, the Danube Delta is perhaps the richest place in modern Europe. The animal kingdom is represented quite sufficiently on the territory of the Danube Biosphere Reserve. In the entire delta of the river. Danube recorded stay of more than 350 species of birds. Among the colonial birds, the territory of the Danube Biosphere Reserve is important for the small cormorant – up to 1000 pairs and spoonbills – up to 360 pairs. The cormorant, gray, red, small and large white herons, heron, river and variegated terns are quite numerous in the reserve; flocks of pink pelicans up to several thousand individuals that feed here are also frequent in the reserve. There is also a curly pelican. The fish fauna of the reserve totals 107 species belonging to 39 families. Moreover, all 7 species of fish from the European Red List are found in protected waters. Mammals in the reserve are represented by 45 species. Among them, 7 are on the European Red List and 19 are in the Red Book of Ukraine. For some of them, like the European mink and the forest cat, the lands of the Danube Delta are very important for survival on a European scale.

Black Sea Biosphere Reserve (Ukraine)

  • Total area 117 268,6 hectares and divided into separate sections along the northwest coast of the Black Sea. The reserve consists of three sites on the Kinburn Peninsula; two coastal areas, as well as the islands of Tendra, Babin, Smalen, Orlov in the Gulf of Tendra and the islands of Long, Round, Kinsky in the Gulf of Jagorlyk. The central estate of the reserve is located in Gola Prystan, 18 km away from Kherson.
  • As an independent nature conservation and research institution the Black Sea Reserve has existed since 1927. In December 1984, the Black Sea Biosphere Reserve was approved by UNESCO and included in the international network of biosphere reserves. The Black Sea Biosphere Reserve is the largest on the territory of Ukraine. Its territory, in accordance with the Ramsar Convention, is included in the list of wetlands of international importance mainly as habitats for wetlands.
  • The Black Sea Reserve is located on the path of the main bird flight. The southern Black Sea region is the most important wintering place for wetland birds, as well as the mass breeding grounds for terns, ducks, waders and sharks. The reserve plays a special role in the conservation of rare bird species. Within its range nest such rare species as the forty-eared sandpiper, the sandstone marine, the downy, the long-legged waddle, the middling, the Caspian martin, the white-tailed eagle, the dwarf, the pink pelican and others. In total, 110 bird species nest in the reserve and the rest are found during wintering and flights.
  • The fauna of the reserve has about 3500 species. Of these, the most diverse are insects, which are known here about 2,200 species, arachnids – 168 species, and shellfish – 65 species. Vertebrates are represented by 462 species, of which 304 species are the most diverse birds. The reptile fauna has 9 species and is one of the most diverse wildlife reserves in Ukraine. During all the years of observations, 83 species of fish, or about 50% of the species composition of the Black Sea ichthyofauna, have been found in the marine waters of the reserve. The mammal terrestrial fauna has 50 and the marine fauna has 3 species.
  • In total, 29 species of animals listed in the European Red List and 124 species listed in the Red Data Book of Ukraine live on the territory of the reserve. Rare marine mammals occur within the protected waters: the Black Sea bottlenose dolphin, the Black Sea butterfly and the Mediterranean monk seal.

Foundation Caucasus Environment (FCE) is founded in 1998 in Georgia. FCE is nongovernmental nonprofit public organization with professional staff on environment and education. Organization is oriented on sustainable development and social issues . Organizational activities cover Caucasus region and is involved in international relations. At the same time FCE is a member of several international networks. FCE is a member of National Platform of Eastern Partnership in Georgia http://eap-csf.ge  and former coordinator of Working Group 3 of  this platform: http://eap-csf.ge/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=298&Itemid=1396&lang=en-GB. FCE is a member of big international network Women in Europe for common Future (WECF) WECF  http://www.wecf.eu.At the same time Foundation Caucasus Environment (FCE) is a coordinator of the Global Education Week (GEW) network of North-South Centre (NSC) of Council of Europe http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/nscentre/GE/GEW-NETWORK_en.asp#TopOfPage .

Permanent  staff of FCE is 7 person and about 50 volunteers. Key staff of FCE are well educated experts with university education in the field of Natural sciences. Staff persons are experienced in holding the trainings the teachers, youth, fishermen, women groups on protection of ecosystems, also in providing of demonstrational projects on river basin contaminants and defining the hot spots in the Black Sea basin.

Target groups: members of WG3 of the National Platform of EaP Georgia, scientists, teachers, students, lecturers, farmers, fishermen, communities in rural areas, women groups and other stakeholders. Areas of Activity: – Sustainable development; – Education for Sustainable Develop[ment (ESD) – Public participation in Environmental Impact Assessment; – Ethno cultural and ecological education; – Skills and Training on EIA and SEA; – Management of Natural Resources – Climate change and consumption of renewable energy; – Biodiversity in protected areas; -Water management; – Wetlands and eutrophication;  – biodiversity of marine and freshwater living organisms; – Regional cooperation in the Black Sea countries; FCE has published lot of educational materials on biodiversity, sustainable development, water management, eutrophication, wetlands and environmental protection activities by support of EU, UNDP GEF SGP, WECF, USAID and other projects donors. Raising awareness on environmental education of rural community about the reasons of pollutants and eutrophication of water reservoirs are one of the main important activates of FCE. FCE has prepared and published guideline for the stakeholders on “Ecology and Environmental Monitoring” for wide public. FCE implemented the project on Water Safety Plan at the rural schools. Activities of the project includes implement the informal educational program on the safe waters and sanitation in the villages where is not available the water supply system and population use the underground waters from the wells. Key staff of FCE are well educated experts with university education in the field of Natural sciences. Staff persons are experienced in holding the trainings the teachers, youth, fishermen, women groups on pollutants of ecosystems, also in providing of demonstrational projects on contamination of river basins and defining the hot spots in the Black Sea basin rivers areas.

Some of our recent implemented projects are:

1.“Integrated Hotspots Management and Saving the Living Black Sea Ecosystem HOT BLACK SEA“ financed by EU BSB ENI CBC http://www.bs-hotspots.eu/Partners , 2013-2016; (team leader)

  1. „ Identification, Management and Sustainable Usage of the Eutrophicated areas of the Black Sea Coastal Zone”, financed by UNEP GEF SGP (the project coordinator) https://www.facebook.com/foundationcaucasusenvironment , 2014-2015;
  2. ” Strengthening the Women Action for Sustainable Energy Development in Gali and Zugdidi Regions.

The project target Wetlands in Georgia

Georgia has over 600,000 acres of coastal wetlands including the salt marsh, the marsh edge-zone and brackish swamps.

Unique Wetlands are located in the Kolkheti Lowland.

There are scientific researches in direction of species biodiversity, ecosystem services, conservation, possible threats (pollution, invasive species, habitat modification and degradation) and  wise use.

  • The project target areas wetlands are located in the Kolkheti National Park.
  • Kolkheti National Park (Georgian: კოლხეთი), is a national park located in Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti and Guria in the historical region of Colchis in western Georgia.
  • The wetlands of Central Kolkheti are a Wetland of International Importance, a Ramsar Site.
  • The park was established during 1998 and 1999 as part of Georgia’s Integrated Coastal Management Project, which was backed financially by the World Bank (WB) and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF).
  • Kolkheti National Park covers an area of 28,940 hectares and with protected wetlands protected area spans to 33710 and its surrounding wetlands, including the lake Paliastomi.

Four locations in Georgia’s west could become the first natural sites in the country to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, with the protected areas of:

  • Kolkheti,
  • Mtirala,
  • Kintrishi
  • Kobuleti

They feature “unique ecosystems and rich biodiversity” making them a “crucial part of the Caucasus ecological region and the Black Sea basin region.

Flora

The climate of the Kolkheti National Park and abundance of water has resulted in a rich biodiversity of flora in the coastal marshes and swamped forests and the deciduous wetland forest. The flora composed mostly of bearded alder, several species of willows and  oaks and common ash. The coastal peat bogs are the home to many types of plants including sphagnum mosses, Drosera rotundifoliaRhynchospora albaCarex lasiocarpa and Menyanthes trifoliata. In the forests, evergreen undergrowth tends to grow such as Hedera colchica and endemic species such as Quercus imeretinaQuercus dshorochensis and Quercus hartwissiana, and Alnus barbata and Pterocarya pterocarpa are commonly found. Aquatic plants, such as Nymphaea alba are common around much of the hydrological habitats of the park while Rhododendron flavum and Rhododendron ponticum are known to grow away from the coast in the alpine area of Kolkheti National Park.

Fauna

The swamps and wetland forests of the park contain a number of endangered species such as roe deerboarotter and Triturus vittatus, and more recently a population of coypu has been introduced.]It is home to the Caucasian subspecies of common tree frog and marsh frog (Rana ridibunda) and numerous types of snake, including ringed snakedice snakeslowworm, and more rarely the Aesculapian snake. The European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis), and Artwin wood lizard are also found as are common and eastern crested newts. Several species of dolphins including Delphinus delphisTursiops truncates and Phocoena phocoena inhabit the marine habitat.194 different bird species are found in the national park, including 21 species who use the area during seasonal migration. Some of the birds endemic to the park are on the IUCN and Georgian Red Book list because they are verging on extinction in the area, including the black storkcrane and great white egret. The great crested grebered-necked grebeblack-necked grebegreat cormorantsquacco heronEurasian spoonbillglossy ibislesser white-fronted gooseruddy shelduckmarsh sandpipergreat snipe, and a diversity of duckswaderscootsgulls and terns are common to the park during season and a number of white-tailed sea eagles have been recorded in the park, although these are very rare.

         The main sources of pollution of wetland areas:

  • Industry
  • Agriculture
  • Waste from the households of local population
  • Fisheries

Black stork

Paliastomi lake

The beauty of Kolkheti National park is paliastomi Lake in the coastal zone of the Black Sea. The Paliastomi Lake is the largest of over 40 other smaller lakes in the ecologically important and fragile Kolkheti Wetland complex. The wetland area harbors a lot of waterfowl (especially at the eastern coast of the Paliastomi Lake), rare endemic plants, and many water-associated amphibians, reptiles, and mammals.

The Paliastomi Lake covers a surface of 17.3 sq. km, its maximum depth measures 3.2 m. In the past, the salinity content was 2,2 g/l, today it varies between 12 and 13 g/l. The Paliastomi Lake is an important fishery site.

 Additionally to the high salinity and over-fishing, hunting as well as lacking regulation are the biggest problems, which strongly influence the situation at the lake.

Green Balkans is one of the largest and oldest environmental NGOs in Bulgaria established in 1988. Our mission is preserving the nature of Bulgaria and the Balkan peninsula and our main fields of activities are biodiversity conservation, habitat restoration, sustainable natural resource management, improvement of nature conservation policy and legislation, environmental education. Conservation of rare bird species is the priority of our work. For more than 30 years’ existence, the NGO, supported by its partners, members and donors, such as the USAID, GEF, REC, UNDP, EURONATUR, EU OPE has implemented more than 110 nature conservation projects. Successful reintorudction projects for rare and extinct species in Bulgaria were made: vultures in the Balkan Mountain, Lesser kestrel and Saker falcon. The only Wildlife Rescue Centre is operated by the NGO in the city of Stara Zagora in Central Bulgaria.

Green Balkans has been running a long-term conservation program for the Pomorie Lake since 1996. Diverse measures for conservation of bird species, restoration of habitat and hydrological regime, development of management plan and field inventories, the establishment of a visitor centre, cleaning the illegally dumped domestic and construction waste and raising public awareness for the site have been implemented through these years. One of the most successful activity was the restoration of habitats of rare and protected colonially breeding waterfowl species (Sandwich, Common and Little terns, Avocets, Black-winged stilts, Kentish plovers)  resulting in stabilising their breeding populations in Pomorie Lake.

Pomorie Lake

Pomorie Lake was designated as a protected site (IUCN category III-V) in accordance to Protected Areas Act of Republic of Bulgaria in 2001 covering 760.83 ha. Pomorie Wetland Complex was designated as a Ramsar site 1229 (Wetland of international importance according to Ramsar Convention) in 2002, covering 814.3 ha but in 2012 it was enlarged to 921.5 ha. It was listed as Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife in 1989. With EU accession the lagoon gained protection by EU Birds Directive as SPA Pomoriysko ezero BG0000152 in 2009 and pSCI Pomorie under the EU Habitats Directive with respective surface areas of 921.523 and 2085.15 ha.

The site is a natural hypersaline coastal lagoon connected to the Black Sea by an artificial canal. The

lagoon is associated with salt marshes, reed beds, salt pans, and concentration pools. Current economic activities include salt production and the extraction of medicinal mud. The mixture of habitats with diverse salinity is creating conditions for diverse avifauna. Pomorie Lake is one of the most important wetlands in the region for water birds. So far, a total of 271 species (breeding, wintering, migrating) have been found in this region, as many of them are rare and threatened, such as Pygmy Cormorant (Microcarbo pygmeus), White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala), Red-breasted Goose (Branta ruficollis), Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus), Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca), Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis), Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta), etc. The lagoon is situated on Europe’s second-biggest migration flyway – Via Pontica, and annually thousands of Storks, Pelicans, Geese, and Raptors migrate above the lake on their way to Africa and back. Thanks to long term conservation program of Green Balkans NGO key breeding habitat for water birds was restored. That has made the site one of Bulgaria’s most important breeding sites for the following species: Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis) with 2000+ pairs, Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) – 100+ pairs, Blackwinged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) – 50+ pairs, Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) – 10+ pairs, Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) – 100-120 pairs, Little Tern (Sternula albifrons) – 20-40 pairs, Mute swan (Cygnus olor) – 1-3 pairs and Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) – 2-5 pairs. The colonies of nesting Charadriiformes are found on the embankments and eroded dykes of the salinas and artificially built islets in the lake. The site is also of great importance for the wintering of numerous species of waterfowl, especially Common shelduck (Tadorna tadorna), Widgeon (Mareca penelope), Teal (Anas crecca), Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata), Mute swan (Cygnus olor), Northern Pintail (Anas acuta), Tufted duck (Aythya fuligula), Great crested grebes (Podiceps cristatus), Black-necked grebes (Podiceps nigricollis), Red-breasted merganser (Mergus serrator), Coots (Fulica atra) and Pochard (Aythya ferina), hunting being forbidden in the area.

Vascular plants are presented by 87 species in total. Of these, several are protected by Biological Diversity Act and are listed in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria as endangered and critically endangered species: Sea Bindweed (Calystegia soldanella) – EN, Centaurea gracilenta – EN, Stachys maritima – EN, Eryngium maritimum – EN, Trachomitum venetum – EN, Petrosimonia brachiata – CR, Suaeda heterophyla – CR. The sand strip separating the lake from the sea is notable for the sand dunes and the specific vegetation (Euphorbia peplis, Eryngium maritimum, Ammophila arenaria, Trachomitum venetum, etc.). The saline basins and the saltpans provide conditions suitable for the development of Salicornia europaea – specific for salt lakes. The sand dunes around the lake hold Bulgaria’s most significant population of the threatened Trachomitum venetum listed in Bulgarian Red Data book as endangered (EN).

Among invertebrates more important species include brine shrimp (Artemia sp.) with population of Pomorie Lake being identified to be dominated by Artemia parthenogenetica. Dark Spreadwing (Lestes macrostigma) dragonfly is Critically Endangered in Bulgaria and Endangered in Europe being closely associated to saltmarsh bulrush (Bolboschoenus maritimus).

Fish fauna of the lake is not very diverse but it plays an important role for feeding and growing of mullets (Mugilidae) that use the lagoon from spring to autumn as it is a rich source of detritus – prefered food for that fish family. The only permanent fish species is the Caucasian goby (Knipowitschia caucasica) adapted to high water salinity. The site plays a key role for the species at national level.

The area of the lake and the adjacent territories harbour a total of 17 amphibian and reptile species, many of which are rare and globally threatened, such as Spur-thighed Tortoise (Testudo graeca), Hermann’s Tortoise (Testudo hermanni), European Pond Terrapin (Emys orbicularis), Fire-belied Toad

(Bombina bombina), Balkan Green Lizard (Lacerta trilineata), Balkan Wall Lizard (Podarcis taurica), Southern Crested Newt (Triturus karelinii), European Tree frog (Hyla arborea), etc.

Among mammal fauna Otter (Lutra lutra) should be noted as well as number of bat species.

The Management Body of Evros Delta and Samothraki Protected Areas, according to the National legislation, is a private body, belonging to the “Wider Public Sector”, has a non-profit character, is financially and operationally independent and supervised by the Ministry of Environment and Energy.

The Management Body was established in 2002, with its main purpose the operation and management of the areas, elements and totals of nature and landscape, that belong to its responsibility area. Today there are seven Natura 2000 sites under its responsibility which include wetlands, forest areas, marine areas, a cave and the island of Samothrace (with the total area under its responsibility amounting to 142.052,67 ha).

The main responsibilities of the Management Body are:

  • Providing information and reasoned opinion during the Management Plan preparation process and then implementing, monitoring, evaluating and updating Management Plans for the sustainable management and protection of natural capital of the Natura 2000 network
  • The production of an annual report for the protected area, with priority to the conservation status of the objects to be protected and the results from the implementation of actions included in the Management Plans
  • The compilation of a three-year evaluation report of the protected area settings
  • Efficient, sound and transparency in the allocation and management of sources of Management Body revenue to improve the preservation of protected objects, the integrated management of their areas and the enhancement of local development
  • The preparation of studies and surveys, and the execution of technical or other projects included in their Management Plans and are necessary for the protection, conservation, restoration and enhancement of the objects to be protected within their area of responsibility
  • The responsibility for the collection, classification and processing of environmental data
  • Undertaking the preparation and implementation of national, European or international programs and actions related to their area of responsibility that promote the purposes of the Management Body
  • Organizing and participating in training and education programs, as well as in conferences, workshops, training seminars and other information events to promote and highlight the objectives of managing protected areas of its area of responsibility and compatible eco-protection areas
  • Assisting in the granting of scientific research licenses and technical tests and analyzes of protected objects, within the limits of its area of responsibility, in co-operation with competent public services

Until today, the Management Body has implemented a considerable number of actions on the protected area, based mainly on the wetland. These actions include the monitoring of birds and water quality, wardening, public awareness, educational projects, habitat management, promotion of the area, ecotourism, etc.

The Evros Delta area

In the southeastern part of Evros Prefecture, next to the border with Turkey, Evros River creates an extensive Delta of international ecological importance with a total surface area of 188 km2. Evros River is the second biggest river in Eastern Europe and is characterized by the large amount of sediments that it transfers and deposits on its delta.

Evros River springs from the mountains of Rila in Bulgaria, south of Sofia. Its river basin is between the mountain ranges of Rodopi and Ainos. The total length of the river is 528 km., of which 310 km belong to Bulgaria, while 218 km determine the borders of Greece with the countries of Bulgaria and Turkey. The total river basin has a surface area of 53.000 km2 of which:

35.085 km2 (66,2%) are situated in Bulgaria ,

14.575 km2 (27,5%) are situated in Turkey,

and 3.340 km2 (6,3%) are situated in Greece.

Evros Delta constitutes one of the most important wetlands, not only in Greece but also in Europe. A surface area of 9.500 ha (8.000 ha of land and 1.500 ha of water) has been included in the list of protected wetlands of the International Ramsar Convention (1971), because it hosts important bird species. Furthermore, the Evros Delta has been designated as a National Park, is characterized as a Special Protection Area (SPA) and is proposed as a Site of Community Importance (pSCI) in the Natura 2000 network, is designated as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) and part of the wetland is a Wildlife Refuge.

The climate of the Evros Delta area is Mediterranean although it is affected by continental climate conditions. The winter is severe and early or late frosts are often observed. The quantity of rainfall is unequally distributed during the year and rain is rarely observed during the summer.

The area consists of an extensive wetland complex characterized by a great diversity of vegetation, which is related to the permanent or not presence of water and the degree of salinity. There is a variety of habitats associated with the large diversity of fauna species present in the area. A special feature of the area is the large number of habitats it comprises, in proportion to the relatively small area. The site is composed of shallow sea waters, salt and brackish lagoons and smaller freshwater lakes and channels, sandy beaches and islets, temporarily flooded mud flats, salt marshes and to a lesser extend freshwater marshes. Around the site there are remnants of riparian forests alongside the main course of the Evros river bed and the courses of smaller rivers/torrents flowing in the area; also many drainage and irrigation canals exist in the adjoining pastures and agricultural lands.

In the wetland of the Evros Delta, a large number of species can be found, despite the decline suffered in recent decades. Very important is the value of the wetland for the birds and especially for wintering birds and those that use it as a migration stopover site. Particularly important is the presence of amphibians, reptiles, mammals and fish. A total of 28 species of amphibians and reptiles, more than 40 species of mammals and 46 species of fish has been recorded.

In Evros Delta, more than 320 species of birds have been recorded. Evros Delta is so important for birds, first of all, because of its geographic position. The Delta lies in northeastern Greece, a crossroad between three continents, Europe, Asia and Africa. Thus, species of all three continents are observed here. Typical species of Europe which their southern limit of expansion is here, like geese, African species, which their northern limit or breeding area is in the Delta or the wider area, like the Spur- winged Plover and Asian species which are found only in this area and not in the rest of Europe, like the Black- headed Bunting. Another reason is the diversity and “wilderness” of the landscape. Despite the extended drainage works and the loss of almost half the wetland, which was given to agriculture, the area stays in parts unchangeable and hospitable for the wild fauna. Areas with fresh, brackish and salt water, like the riparian forests, the wet meadows, the reed beds, the lagoons, the salt water marshes, the sandy islets comprise habitats for a big variety of birds. As a result, birds find in Evros Delta the two most important things they need: food and shelter. The flooded areas in the wet seasons of the year and the big watery areas provide plenty of food to the water birds and waders and, by extension, to their predators. The protected area, which includes all the natural areas of the wetland, offers safety from human-caused dangers.

– Wintering

In winter, Evros Delta shelters tens of thousands of birds which have come here from the north to spend the cold season in milder climate. Areas like the lagoons, the wet meadows and the flooded areas are “flooded” for several months by water birds. Thousands of ducks are observed that time, the most common of which are the Mallard, the Teal, the Wigeon, the Coot, the Pintail and the Shoveler. In the same areas, swans are observed (Mute Swan, Whooper Swan and Bewick’s Swan). In the meadows, geese are feeding during the whole day; thousands of White-fronted Geese, almost all the natural breeding population of the Lesser White-fronted-Goose, Red-breasted Geese and Greylag Geese.

At the same time of the year, thousands of Flamingos are observed in salt water areas, Great White Egrets and Grey Herons in all watery areas, along with Avocets, Oystercatchers, Pygmy Cormorants, grebes, pelicans and sandpipers.

Winter is the season with the most species of raptors in the Delta. Tens of eagles such as Greater Spotted Eagles, Imperial Eagles and White-tailed Eagles and smaller raptors, such as Marsh Harriers, Hen Harriers and Buzzards are flying around.

-Migration

In spring, Evros Delta hosts large populations of birds which move from Africa to Europe. During this trip, they stop in the Delta to rest and feed in the rich and secure habitats of the wetland and, most of them, continue for the breeding sites. This season is usually wet end the temporary fresh water wetlands and the shallow lagoons host thousands of waders, such as Black-winged Stilts, plovers, stints, snipes, terns, swallows and many passerines. Other species observed during the spring migration are the White Stork, the Black Stork, the White and Dalmatian Pelican, the Garganey, the Ferruginous Duck, the Lesser Spotted Eagle and Black-tailed Godwit. Apart from the many IBA population criteria, the area is one of the few sites which fulfill criterion C5, that is the site is a ‘bottleneck’ site where at least 5,000 storks (Ciconiidae) regularly pass on spring or autumn migration.

Summarizing, we can say that the Evros Delta is:

  • The richest place for birds in Greece (with > 320 species)
  • A significant international wintering site (at least 12 species exceeding> 1% of Europe, including the World Endangered species Lesser White-fronted Goose and Red-breasted goose, the Bewick’s Swan, the Pintail, the Flamingo, the Ruddy Shelcuck, the Pygmy Cormorant, the Greater Spotted Eagle, etc ) and the most important at a national level
  • Internationally important place for bird`s migration (8 species exceeding> 1% of Europe, including 2 species of Pelicans) and one of the most important sites at a national level
  • Internationally significant breeding site for the Mediterranean Gull and nationally for the Spur-winged lapwing (> 50% of the national population), the Lapwing, the White-tailed Eagle, the Common Tern, the Sandwich Tern and the Oystercatcher.