NATURE COMPLEX ROPOTAMO
The map displays the seven protected areas in the area of Ropotamo River declared under the Bulgarian Law on Protected Areas. These are:
Ropotamo Reserve, 1000.7 ha;
Velyov Vir Managed Reserve (Water Lilies), 13.6 ha;
Alepu Marsh Natural Landmark, 166.7 ha;
Alepu Sand Dunes Natural Landmark, 12 ha;
Stamopolu Protected area 40 ha (Stamopolu Marsh);
Perla Sand Dunes Natural Landmark, 24 ha;
Rock Formations, Fiords, and the Seal Cave on Maslen Cape Natural Landmark, 17.6 ha.
Parts of these areas were assessed by experts and placed under the protection long ago, for example, a part of today's reserve Ropotamo was declared a protected forest as early as 1940.
Due to their immediate proximity and similar characteristics these seven protected areas form the natural complex Ropotamo. This category, however, does not exist in the Bulgarian Protected Areas Act.
Due to its exceptional conservation value and importance Ropotamo, and in particular the complex of Ropotamo territories, are protected areas under other Bulgarian and international categorizations. It was declared a Ramsar site (RS), an Important Bird Area (IBA), and a protected area (PA) of the European Union Natura 2000 network.
In 1975 Arkutino Marsh (part of Ropotamo reserve) was declared a Ramsar site under the Ramsar Convention for the protection of wetlandsof international importance as habitats for water birds. At the end of 2002 the seven protected areas were added to it, thus forming Ropotamo complex with a total area of 5500 ha.
In 2005 the area was declared an Important Bird Area by Bird Life International.
In 2007 Ropotamo Complex was included as a protected zoneunder the Birds Directive in the European Union Natura 2000 network.
Status of protected zone under Natura 2000:
ROPOTAMO COMPLEX (Code in the Register: BG0002041)
Catgory: ЗЗ from the Birds Directive
Size: 3857.75 hectars
1. District: Burgas, Municipality: Primorsko, Town: Primorsko
2. District: Burgas, Municipality: Sozopol, Town: Sozopol
Documents declaring it a protected area:
Order №RD-82 of 03.02.2009 г.
Purpose for declaring it a protected area:
1. Preservation and maintenance of the habitats of the bird species listed in section 2 in order to achieve their favorable conservation status;
2. Restoration of habitats of birds listed in section 2, which need improvement of their conservation status.
The Ropotamo Complex is located 50 km south of Burgas and covers the firth part and the flooded terrace of the Ropotamo river, the natural flooded forests, the sand dunes, the sand strip and the deeply indented coast with rocky capes jutting out into the sea and narrow and deep bays, the island of St. Toma, the marshes of Alepu, Arkutino and Stamopolu, as well as the Ropotamo Reserve. To the south and south-east the complex includes mountain ridges with rocks and deciduous forests. The complex features a great variety of biotopes. A substantial element are the coastal marshes with hygrophyte vegetation, dominated by reed, fern leaf and hardwood cattail, bulrush, etc., as well as hydrophyte vegetation – water lily, European frogbit, bulging duckweed, etc.
Typical of the complex is the Ropotamo River firth with its hygrophyte dense forests of Polish elm, field elm, black alder, hawthorn, with the significant presence of lianas. The deciduous forests are mainly of oak with mediterranean elements or mixed with Holm oak, Virgilianoak and others.
The coastal strip is covered by dunes with psammophytic vegetation, mainly European beach grass, sea daffodil, etc. In some places the shore is rocky with niches, underwater caves and sea inlets.
In recent years, 236 bird species have been observed in Ropotamo area, 69 of which are included in the Red Book of Bulgaria. The area provides a suitable habitat for 87 species included in Appendix 2 of the Biodiversity Act, which require special protection measures.
Ropotamo Complex is one of the most important place in the country as a breeding site for a group of species strongly attached to the various types of habitats in the complex – the Mediterranean shearwater, the spotted crake, the little crake, the purple heron, the squacco heron and the semi-collared flycatcher.
It is one of the three places along the Black Sea Coast where there are nests of white-tailed eagle. Ten globally endangered species have been established here during the breeding season, migration or wintering – Pygmy Cormorant, Dalmatian Pelican, Marbled Duck, Ferruginous Duck, White-tailed Eagle, Pallid Harier, Greater Spotted Eagle, Imperial Eagle, Lesser Kestrel and Corncrake.
The role of the complex as a stopping station during the migration of birds and as a typical bottleneck migration site mainly for the white stork, the common buzzard and some other birds of prey is also considerable. In winter the Ropotamo Complex hosts significant numbers of wintering birds such as the black-throated diver, pochard, red-crested pochard and gadwall.
A part of the complex has the status of a strict reserve and any human activities are forbidden in it. In the buffer zone of the reserve and in the unprotected areas forestry activities such as hunting, fishing, transportation, recreation and tourism are carried out.
The main problems facing Ropotamo complex are associated with construction and changes in the water regime due to water usage in the upstream catchment area ofRopotamo river and the eutrophication of marshes. To the north the complex borders on a large seaside resort – Dunes and to the south – Primorsko, which is now a large tourist center. Tree felling in forests and hunting are also factors contributing to the disturbance of birds. Particularly threatening for the migratory birds are the plans to build wind farms. They would hinder the free movement of birds and will lead to the fragmentation of habitats for migratory and wintering birds. Wind turbines will be a barrier for thousands of soaring migratory birds and birds migrating at night on their way south and north. They will cause their death and will reduce their populations.