the Lagoon of LIFE - Maintain the Man-Lake Symbiosis for the Benefit of Species and Habitats of EU conservation concern

LIFE17 NAT/BG/000558

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Contact details:

Contact person: Diyana Kostovska
Email: diyana.kostovska@biodiversity.bg

Project description:


‘Coastal lagoons’ are found in only a few places in Bulgaria. The Atanasovsko Lake Natura 2000 site is the most representative place for this priority habitat type of the Habitats Directive in Bulgaria, and the second most representative site within the EU Black Sea biogeographical region (after the Danube Delta. The long-term conservation of this habitat is uncertain due to fluctuations in the water regime of the lagoon. The fluctuations have been largely eliminated by restoring thedyke and barrier systems, as well as cleaning the drainage channel surrounding the lagoon. However, additional conservation measures are needed for the long-term conservation of this coastal habitat and its many associated species in Lake Atanasovsko. These measures include restoring and creating feeding and roosting habitats for bird species of EU concern, including the great bittern (Botaurus stellaris).


The Lagoon of LIFE project aims to demonstrate solutions for enhancing the conservation status of ‘coastal lagoons’, a priority habitat of the Habitats Directive, in the Atanasovsko Lake Natura 2000 site in Bulgaria. This will deliver improved conditions for the many bird species reliant on coastal lagoons, especially the great bittern. The project will ensure the large-scale restoration of the ecological processes supporting the unique biodiversity of Atanasovsko Lake, such as water flow, water quality and optimal salinity levels. The project aims to establish a self-sustaining and financially-viable mechanism to enable the long-term conservation management of Atanasovsko Lake, and will promote the environmental and socio-economic benefits generated by improved conditions in the Natura 2000 site.

By improving the conservation status of habitat types and species (including bird species) of Community Interest, the project contributes to the implementation of the Habitats Directive, the Birds Directive, and the Prioritised Action Framework for Natura 2000 (PAF).

Expected results:

  • The development and implementation of a system for the active management of the water levels and salinity of Atanasovsko Lake;
  • Sediment-filled channels cleared, and a sluice gate built, to restore the natural connectivity of water flow;
  • The 20 ha of the ‘coastal lagoons’ habitat that was in a drained condition before the project recovered, and over 720 ha of the habitats now having restored physical-chemical characteristics;
  • Increased area of ‘coastal lagoons’ by 5.8 ha, and an additional 5 ha restored;
  • An innovative scheme for the biological purification of water using the aquatic plant Ruppia maritima tested in five water basins (area 40 ha);
  • An integrated model for wetland assessment created, tested and proposed to the competent authorities;
  • Development of a new course on wetland management for two universities;
  • Restoration of the microhabitat mosaic by deepening certain ponds and reducing the reed bed mass; and
  • Enhanced water regime over 16 ha and 5.5 ha of newly created feeding and roosting habitats for the great bittern to facilitate its natural recovery.



Environmental issues addressed:


Habitats - Coastal


coastal area‚  restoration measure

Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 79/409 - Conservation of wild birds (02.04.1979)
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...

Target species

 Botaurus stellaris     

Target Habitat types

  • 1150 - Coastal lagoons

Natura 2000 sites

SCI BG0000270 Atanasovsko ezero



Coordinator Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation
Type of organisation NGO-Foundation
Description The Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation is one of the leading non-governmental organisations in Bulgaria dealing with nature conservation. It aims to involve the public and raise awareness for the long-term conservation of biodiversity and natural resources in protected areas, including Natura 2000 sites. It also advocates for environmental legislation and works to help develop sustainable businesses, such as eco-tourism.
Partners Chernomorski solnici JSC, Bulgaria Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds, Bulgaria Zaedno 2011, Bulgaria


Project reference LIFE17 NAT/BG/000558
Duration 01-SEP-2018 to 30-SEP -2024
Total budget 2,525,618.00 €
EU contribution 1,836,683.00 €
Project location Yugoiztochen(Bulgaria Balgarija)


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