site.btaBulgarian Protecting Pelicans Project among Finalists for NATURA 2000 EC Award
A project for the protection of the Dalmatian pelican is one of the 21 chosen finalists for the European Commission’s NATURA 2000 Award, the Persina Nature Park said on Sunday. Together with the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds, the park represents Bulgaria in the Pelikan Way of LIFE international project dedicated to the conservation of the Dalmatian pelican in the Balkan Peninsula.
The European Natura 2000 Award celebrates excellence in the management of Natura 2000 sites in five categories which showcase the best success stories in preserving Europe’s stunning nature. The categories have been updated for the 2022 edition to give an enhanced focus on marine and coastal issues. The present categories include conservation on land, marine conservation, communication, socio-economic benefits, and cross-border cooperation. The European Citizens’ Award is not a category as such, but all finalists automatically qualify for this competition which is decided through a public vote online.
The Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus) is the rarest member of the pelican family, breeding in just nine healthy colonies in Europe, Persina Nature Park added. However, the Bulgarian population had only 80 breeding pairs in one colony and was much less secure. It was also restricted to one place (Srebarna Lake) because of the destruction of the vast floodplains where the species would originally have bred.
The Code Name Pelican initiative of the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB), in cooperation with the Directorate of the Persina Nature Park, started back in 2012 and focused on restoring the Lower Danube wetland ecosystem, epitomised by the Dalmatian pelican. At that time, the first breeding platforms were erected at the Kompleks Belenski Ostrovi Natura 2000 site with the attempt to mitigate the loss of natural breeding habitat (the Lower Danube flood plains). After numerous attempts to make the artificial platforms attractive to the pelicans, the first breeding pairs were recorded in 2016 and eventually the persistence of the team was richly rewarded with the establishment of two breeding colonies of the Dalmatian pelican at Pesina Marsh and Martvoto Marsh. A third breeding colony settled on a platform in the Kalimok Kompleks near the town of Tutrakan in 2021.
The Dalmatian pelicans are still endangered, which is why the establishment of new breeding colonies in Bulgaria is one of the greatest conservation successes not only in this country but in Erope as well, the experts from the Park affirm.
Besides the Bulgarian participants, The Pelican Way of LIFE project, funded under the EU LIFE programme with the support of the Whitlеy Fund for Nature, includes partners Romanian Ornithological Society (SOR), the Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOS), Rewilding – Ukraine and Rewilding – Danube Delta.
Anyone wishing to support The Pelican Way of LIFE can do so by voting here by April 27.