The farm yard in Burgas quarter Dolno Ezerovo – a former pier for boats for trips to the Vaya Protected Area, right on the shore of Vaya Lake.

Coordinates: 42°30’38.27” N, 27°22’03.51” E, 2 m above sea level



Vaya Protected Area comprises the reed beds in the southwestern part of the lake and was declared a conservation area for endangered bird species. In 1998 the lake was declared a CORINE site because of its European importance for the preservation of rare and endangered bird species. In 2003 Burgas Lake was declared a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention. In 2005 the area was declared a place of ornithological importance by Bird Life International. In 2007 Burgas Lake was included in the European Ecological Network "Natura 2000" as a protected area for preservation of wild birds.

Vaya Protected Area has an area of 379.35 hectares and is located near Burgas.

Documents declaring it a protected area: Order №RD 405 of 04.12.1997.

Purpose for declaring it a protected area: Preservation of the habitats of protected and rare bird species included in the Red Book of Bulgaria and the list of endangered species of Europe.

Mode of activities:

Prohibited: any construction and alteration of the water regime assigned to the existing pumping station, basins and canals in connection with the activities of the fishery;

Prohibited: pollution of the water in any way;

Prohibited: plowing of grassland and coastal areas;

Prohibited: disturbing of birds during their breeding season, collecting their eggs, and ringing their chicks;

Prohibited: hunting of wild water birds;

Prohibited: grazing of goats and pigs;

Prohibited: setting fire to the marsh vegetation;

Prohibited: fishing in the waters of the protected area;

Allowed: commercial fishing after the annual determination of fish stocks and fishing quotas beyond the period between March 1 and July 31;

Allowed: fish farming which is consistent with the mode of activities in the protected area;

Allowed: traditional use of agricultural land provided it does not violate the prohibitions included in this order;

Allowed: reed and cane picking in the period between September 1 and February 15;

Allowed: livestock grazing (sheep and cows) in marshy grassland;

Allowed: hunting of big game (wild boar and deer);

Allowed: control of the number of predators when necessary and after consultations with the Ministry of Environment and Water

Overlap: 33 under the Birds Directive: Burgas Lake

Area Descriptions

The most important fact from the description of Vaya Lake is that with its 2900 hectares it is the largest natural lake in Bulgaria. It is a shallow brackish coastal lake – an open firth with a small connection to the sea and with fringe vegetation along the banks. It is located west of Burgas, and all its eastern part borders on the industrial and residential areas of the city. It is connected to the sea through a channel with a sluice, whose cleaning in recent years has been one of the most important challenges for the normal functioning of the lake. The channel carries fresh water from the sea which is of vital importance and with it many nutrients and sea creatures into the otherwise largely freshwater lake.
The open water area predominates in the lake and in some places it is 1.3 m deep. The salinity of the water is about 10.58 and changes significantly during the seasons and throughout the year. The shores are covered with a strip of fringe vegetation, mainly reed and bulrush, which in the western and northwestern parts form large massifs.
Bourgas Lake is a part of the Bourgas lakes complex – one of the three most significant wetland complexes for the gathering water birds on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. In the area of the lake there are 245 bird species, 71 of which are included in the Red Book of Bulgaria. 105 of all the species occurring here are of European conservation importance. 9 of them are globally endangered species. The area provides suitable habitats for 89 species included in Annex 2 of the Law on Biological Diversity which require special protection measures. Since the lake is on the migratory route Via Pontica, it is one of the most important stations in bird migration along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. Particularly numerous are pelicans, geese, shorebirds and herons. The lake is particularly important as a resting place during passage for the Dalmatian pelicans and the pink pelicans, as well as for the pygmy cormorants. There are years when Vaya Lake hosts over 20 000 pelicans resting on their migration route. The globally endangered corncrake has also been seen as a migratory species in this area.
Bourgas Lake is of international importance for the wintering of a significant number of water birds, mainly little cormorants, great cormorants, whooper swans, white-fronted geese, pochard duck and tufted ducks. Bourgas Lake is the only place in Bulgaria where up to 7% of the Black Sea population of white-headed ducks gathers. In winter you can see here the globally endangered Dalmatian pelican and red-breasted goose. The lake is one of the most important places in the European Union for the preservation of the little bittern which nests here.
Vaya is located on the outskirts of the second largest city on the Black Sea coast – Burgas. The lake is subjected to high anthropogenic pressure due to its proximity to the densely populated city, large industrial facilities and complexes, as well as the unrestricted and unsupervised access of people to areas outside the protected areas. Bourgas Lake is affected by all human activities which may lead to a change of the water regime or water quality of the wetland. It is also affected by the accelerating development of the city. The lake was contaminated with petroleum products, phenols and other chemicals from the nearby oil refinery. The intensive use of pesticides and fertilizers in the surrounding agricultural land lead to pollution and accelerated eutrophication of the water basin. In recent years there has been an increase in the amount of disposed waste and the cleaning activities in the city. Construction and domestic waste has illegally been disposed of in many places around the lake, especially on its northern shores. The water basins in the northeastern part of the lake are filled with dirt and at this stage 80% of them are almost entirely destroyed.
Wastewater from the northern and southern industrial areas of the city flows into the lake after passing through a treatment plant. Significant amounts of wastewater flow into the lake from the quarters Gorno and Dolno Ezerovo, as well as from some enterprises in Burgas. The changes in water quality lead to changes in the type and quantity of fish stocks and thus of the food base of a large number of water birds. The areas around the lake are being polluted and are continuously being built up. The channel connecting the lake with the sea is almost entirely silted and free passage of fish through it is very limited. The international road leading to the southern state border along the east coast contributes to the waste and causes noise pollution. There is a plan for the construction of a new, wider road, which is a prerequisite for increasing the anthropogenic pressure and pollution of the area. The industrial fishing which takes place in the lake disturbs the birds and often leads to capturing them in the fishing nets. Hunting is also a factor causing significant disturbance to the wintering birds.
On the other hand, Vaya offers a good opportunity for the residents of Burgas, when leaving their homes to find themselves among, to some extent, wild nature, to be able to explore it, to use its resources and to enjoy it. Along the shores of the lake there are popular and well-established places for fishing, which attract dozens of lovers of this hobby. Bourgas Lake is a place of interest for photographers who are attracted by the rare and interesting species of birds. In the very near future, as part of the project "Life for Burgas Lakes" of the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds, the pier near the former farm yard in Dolno Ezerovo will be rebuilt. This will provide an opportunity for boat trips and bird watching directly from the lake.

Project: Green corridors - promotion of natural, cultural and historical heritage in the region of Burgas and Kirklareli. Grant Contract №РД-02-29-173/01.07.2011.

This website has been prepared with the assistance of the European Union through the program IPA CBC Bulgaria - Turkey. The content of the publications are the sole responsibility of the Municipality and in no way reflect the views of the European Union or the managing authority of the program.
Dissemination of its content for commercial purposes is punishable under copyright law.