Riparian Habitats in BG - Conservation and Restoration of 11 Natura 2000 Riparian and Wetland Habitats in 10 SCI's Bulgarian Forests

LIFE08 NAT/BG/000281

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Katarina RAKOVSKA
Tel: +359 2 950 50 41
Email: krakovska@wwfdcp.bg

Project description:


The project’s target area was 10 Natura 2000 network sites that are managed by the State Forestry Agency and designated nature parks. In all these sites timber harvesting activities are carried out by the State Forest Agency. The diversity, quantity and quality of the areas make them sites of considerable national and European significance. Pilot actions, however, are needed to demonstrate and promote good conservation and restoration practices for such Natura 2000 habitat types in the country. In Bulgaria experience of managing and restoring riparian and wetland natural habitat types is very limited.


The project Riparian habitats in Bulgarian forests aimed to improve the conservation status of 10 Natura 2000 network sites (SCIs) through the conservation and restoration of 11 riparian and wetland habitats in forests. The project planned to restore or manage 21 000 ha of riparian forest or associated habitats.

The management of the area would be ensured by constructing specialised facilities, such as fences, grilles, bridges and tourist spots, on 240.6 ha. These facilities would reduce human pressure. Moreover, anthropogenic waste from 97.5 ha would be moved. The project aimed also to create conditions for publicising the lessons learned and the good practices demonstrated at sites managed by the EFA and in the country as a whole. Another important objective was to raise awareness and improve understanding of Natura 2000 among both a specialist audience and the broader public, as well as improve expert capacity. The idea was to further the main stakeholders’ (institutions, local authorities and communities in the project areas) conception of Natura 2000 as an instrument for nature conservation.

The specific objectives were to:

  • Restore six riparian and wetland habitats (9180*, 91D0*, 91E0*, 91F0, 91S0* and 92A0). The forestation practices, which would be used for the habitat restoration, already exist in Bulgaria but until now have only been applied in intensive forestry and not in the restoration of natural habitats;
  • Restore in situ 13 plant species characteristic of the target habitats in four of the project sites (white and yellow water lily, water chestnut, European waterclover, Angelica panchicii, Rheum raponticum, Primula deorumw, Drosera rotundifolia, Menianthes trifoliata, Taxus baccata, Ilex colchica and Daphne pontica;
  • Protect six target habitats (3150, 3160, 6430, 7220, 91D0* and 91F0) from degradation through placement of specialised 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; and
  • Remove anthropogenic waste from 100 ha of the target habitats in all 10 sites.


The project restored five forest habitat types by planting saplings from local species on an area of 80.6 ha in seven nature parks: Bulgarka, Vitosha, Vrachanski Balkan, Zlatni Pyasatsi, Persina, Lomovete and Sinite Kamani. The composition of species varied from park to park, but generally the species were: black alder, white willow, common ash, black poplar, European white elm, pedunculate oak (91E0), beech, sessile oak, silver lime, sycamore, Turkey oak, field elm (9180*), dwarf mountain pine (92D0*) Caucasian ash (91F0).

Other quantifiable results included:

  • The removal of alien species from 59.38 ha in four parks;
  • A gene bank of black poplar and white willow on an area of 2 ha;
  • The restoration of 13 rare plant species, characteristic of four habitat types, in four parks on an area of 1.38 ha;
  • The cultivation of 144.1 ha of young forests, of the rare habitat type 91S0* and other habitats, using the Saarland method in Strandzha Nature Park (securing the production of high-quality timber in line with high environmental standards);
  • The protection of 11 habitat types through the construction of specialised infrastructure on a total area of 303.9 ha.

A one-day event ‘Clean-up Nature Park Day’ was carried out in three consecutive years. Around 9 400 volunteers helped with the removal of 36 tonnes of anthropogenic waste. Many of these people have subsequently formed networks for volunteer work. Thanks to the new park infrastructure – bridges, wooden grates, tourist spots and the information boards – the project is continuing to engage visitors. Also, every nature park administration organised regional stakeholder meetings to present the project work, gain support for nature conservation and raise awareness of Natura 2000. A travelling exhibition visited 10 towns in the country to this end. It was also exhibited in key locations in Sofia, including the airport during the holiday season when potentially around 195 000 passengers would have seen it.

Furthermore, training events and meetings with state and private forest managers were organised on sustainable forest management practices that are compatible with biodiversity conservation. The experience gained by the project could have a long-term impact on the restoration of local species. Additionally, three trips were organised for journalists to Bulgarka, Strandzha and Vitosha, generating coverage on national television. For the specialist audience, the lessons learned were presented in a brochure and distributed among foresters, biologists and students.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Conservation Plan (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Biodiversity issues - Invasive species
Habitats - Forests


forest ecosystem‚  protected area‚  wetland‚  restoration measure

Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...

Target species

 Marsilea quadrifolia     

Target Habitat types

  • 6430 - Hydrophilous tall herb fringe communities of plains and of the montane to alpine levels
  • 7140 - Transition mires and quaking bogs
  • 7220 - Petrifying springs with tufa formation (Cratoneurion)
  • 9180 - "Tilio-Acerion forests of slopes, screes and ravines"
  • 91D0 - Bog woodland
  • 91E0 - "Alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior (Alno-Padion, Alnion incanae, Salicion albae)"
  • 91F0 - "Riparian mixed forests of Quercus robur, Ulmus laevis and Ulmus minor, Fraxinus excelsior or Fraxinus angustifolia, along the great rivers (Ulmenion minoris)"
  • 92A0 - Salix alba and Populus alba galleries
  • 92D0 - Southern riparian galleries and thickets (Nerio-Tamaricetea and Securinegion tinctoriae)
  • 3150 - Natural eutrophic lakes with Magnopotamion or Hydrocharition - type vegetation
  • 3160 - Natural dystrophic lakes and ponds
  • 91S0 - Western Pontic beech forests

Natura 2000 sites

SCI BG0000113 Vitosha
SCI BG0000118 Zlatni pyasatsi
SCI BG0000164 Sinite kamani
SCI BG0000166 Vrachanski Balkan
SCI BG0000382 Shumensko plato
SCI BG0000396 Persina
SCI BG0000399 Bulgarka
SCI BG0000496 Rilski manastir
SCI BG0000608 Lomovete
SCI BG0001007 Strandzha



Coordinator Executive Forestry Agency
Type of organisation National authority
Description The State Forestry Agency is the institution responsible for the management of the forests in Bulgaria, including timber harvesting, forestation, hunting and game management. It manages 10 protected Nature Parks.
Partners WWF, Bulgaria


Project reference LIFE08 NAT/BG/000281
Duration 01-JAN-2010 to 30-JUN -2014
Total budget 1,236,834.00 €
EU contribution 615,199.00 €
Project location Associated Bulgaria (BG)(Bulgaria Balgarija)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website
Publication: After-LIFE Conservation Plan After-LIFE Conservation Plan
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Technical report Project's Final technical report
Video link "Common yew restoration in Strandzha" (2')
Video link "Dwarf pine restoration in Vitosha" (2')
Video link "Cultivation of young woodlands in Strandzha" (2')
Video link "Buckbean restoration in Vitosha" (2')
Video link "White water lily restoration in Persina" (2')
Video link "Local plants replacing alien species in Rusenski Lom" (2')
Video link "Riparian forests along the river Danube" (2')
Video link "Forest and wetland conservation and restoration in 10 Bulgarian Nature Parks" (3')


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version