The Black Sea region stretches from Romania and Bulgaria, through northern Turkey and on to Georgia. Within the European Union, it is no more than a thin coastal strip some 20–60 km wide. Although it covers just 0.3% of the EU territory, it has specific, regional features: a milder coastal climate, long stretches of sand beaches interspersed with cliffs and, beyond the coastline, a series of coastal lakes, marshes and lagoons. It also boasts the Danube Delta, one of the top biodiversity hotspots in Europe.
To best protect of the Black Sea region, the relevant Member States and key stakeholders team up to devise nature protection measures, tailored to suit the particular needs of the entire region and to target its specific pressures.
The list of sites of Community importance for the Black Sea biogeographical region, included in Natura 2000, is updated every year.
The sea has an important influence on the region's climate, making for milder winters and cooler summers. Much of the coastline is dominated by long, wide stretches of silvery beaches and low sand dunes that shelve gently into the sea. Occasionally, the sand is replaced by rocky bays and sea cliffs, famous for hosting a particularly rich flora.
Behind the shoreline are found a series of coastal lakes, marshes and lagoons, including the second largest wetland in Europe: the Danube Delta, which extends over 4,500 km². One of the top biodiversity hotspots in Europe, it hosts an incredible diversity of plants and animals, many of which are extremely rare in the rest of the EU.
The region is crossed by the second largest bird migration route in Europe. Every autumn, it is estimated that more than 90,000 raptors, 30,000 pelicans, 240,000 storks as well as thousands of waders and passerines travel through the western Black Sea Region on their way to their wintering grounds. Behind the shoreline, a series of coastal lakes, marshes and lagoons act as stepping stones for these birds. Some stay only a short while, others overwinter here. Wintering populations typically build up from late November and reach a peak during mid-January to mid-February.
Along the coast, the high sea cliffs host a variety of rare species like the yellow pheasant’s eye (Adonis volgensis) and the bright red fernleaf peony (Paeonia tenuifolia). They are also key habitats for the rose-coloured starling (Sturnus roseus) and the European shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis).
The Danube Delta is an unrivalled paradise for wildlife. Millions of birds breed on the lakes and floating islands or in the reeds and forests. Amongst these are white pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus), black-crowned night-herons (Nycticorax nycticorax), squacco herons (Ardeola ralloides), glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), little terns (Sterna albifrons), pygmy cormorants (Phalacrocorax pygmeus) and marsh harriers (Circus aeruginosus). It is also a haven for fish. Over 70 species have been recorded here so far, including several which are endemic to the region.
In the past 50 years, the Black Sea Region has seen many land-use changes. On land, the coastal zone is increasingly used for intensive agriculture, industry, power generation, mineral exploitation, shipping, urban development and, of course, tourism. Development continues to threaten the nature of the Black Sea Region in both Bulgaria and Romania.
The Black Sea is a very deep inland sea. Until the 1960s it was very productive and yielded abundant fish catches, providing important feeding areas for commercially important species that migrate here at regular intervals from the Mediterranean. But fish stocks have since collapsed through a combination of overfishing, pollution and the invasion of alien species. Today, the Black Sea is poor in oxygen and most of the water column is practically devoid of marine life, except for some forms of bacteria.
Despite these serious threats, the Black Sea Region remains a vitally important refuge for wildlife, especially during the bird migration period.
To reflect the changes proposed by Member States to the list of SCIs, and to ensure that all new sites have a clearly defined legal status, the Commission proceeds to an annual updating of the Union Lists.
The list of updates as well as the first version of the Black Sea list are available here:
The Reference list of habitat types and species of the Black Sea Region includes protected habitat types (Habitats Directive Annex I) and species (Habitats Directive Annex II) present in this bio-geographical region by Member State. These are all habitat types and species for which the Member States have to propose Natura 2000 sites. The Reference Lists derive from the conclusions of bio-geographical seminars and are updated when new scientific information becomes available.