Atanasovsko lake

Protected Area “Atanassovsko Lake”


Protected Area “Atanassovsko Lake”

Protected Area “Atanassovsko Lake”

On the land of Burgas, Srafovo quarter, the villages Banevo, Izvorishte, Vetren and Rudnik in the Municipality of Burgas.

Curious facts about the lake:
  • A Ramsar and Natura 2000 site;
  • An important place for endangered species in Europe, such as otters and wild cats
  • The area with the biggest salt production in Bulgaria.
  • Has the largest deposit of mud used for medicinal purposes in Bulgaria. 

Geographic features:
The Atanassovsko Lake protected area is 1,690ha, comprising of the lake, arable lands and residential areas. The lake is divided into two parts by the road from Bourgas to Varna and it also has a natural shallow water basin, with a depth of just 30cm. The protected area is part of the European ecological network Natura 2000 and a Ramsar place (a wet land with international importance).
The lake’s proximity to the sea makes it salty but there are many freshwater basins, wet grasslands and a well developed system of channels which ‘feed’ the lake with fresh water. As with most wetland areas, the lake has shallow freshwater basins without vascular plants, separated by dykes overgrown with Salicornia.

© Nikolina Koleva

Life in the lake:
It is well known as a bird paradise in Bulgaria. Its unique habitats have turned it into a suitable place for feeding, breeding and for use as a stopover for many bird species. Out of 450 bird species in Bulgaria, it is possible to observe 318 species at the lake during the course of the year. It also has 241 vascular plants, such as Salicornia, Sea Wormwood, Typha and Suaeda. Among the rarer species are the elegant Orchid, the otter, wild cat and the microscopic brine shrimp, which is responsible for the pink colour of the water.

The salt productions:
The lake is also famous for and the largest  salt production in Bulgaria. This has been in place since 1906 and it is helpful for the protection of the lake’s biodiversity. The quantity of salt produced depends on the brine shrimp and the existence of the brine shrimp depends on the good management of the lake. The more salt is produced, the higher is the number of birds.

© Evgeni Dinev

Medicinal mud and lye:
It also provides medicinal mud and lye, which are very valuable for the local people. This is the largest deposit of medicinal mud in Bulgaria. There are basins where access to the public is allowed. Thousands of people from Bulgaria, Romania and Russia come to this lake to bathe in the mud, believing that the mud has healing properties.

The lake and the city:
They are bound together as the lake is at the heart of the city near the sea garden. Atanassovsko Lake suffers great anthropogenic influence from the densely populated city and the international airport situated to the east of the lake. This brings threats to Atanassovsko Lake and the solutions depend on the citizens and visitors to Burgas.

© Didi Andreeva

Main threats for the protected area:

  • Changes to the dykes: The dykes are becoming overgrown with vegetation, which means that nesting birds are losing their breeding habitats
  • Water pollution: The surrounding channels bring polluted water
  • Predation: Dogs and jackals are among the predators that threaten birds and their offspring. During the past few years, this threat has increased due to the wild boars that appeared in the region
  • Noise pollution: The increasing amount of traffic on the international road that passes through the southern part of the lake, as well as the residential areas and noise from construction projects
  • Power lines: In the southern part of the lake, birds have died by collision or electrocution.

Scientific facts about the protected area:

The protected area is part of the national ecological network in Bulgaria, according to the Biodiversity Act. It is registered under number BG0000270 in the European ecological network Natura 2000. It is part of the Birds Directive aimed at the protection and maintenance of the habitats of the birds. All the activities implemented in the protected area are directed at restoration of the habitats and improvement of the ecological status of the protected species.
The area is also part of the Ramsar convention, which is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands, aiming to stop the progressive encroachment on, and loss of, wetlands, with regards to their fundamental ecological functions and their economic, cultural, scientific, and recreational value.
127 species are important for protection on a European level, including 19 species that belong to the category SPEC1 of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which means that they are globally threatened species. 28 species belong to SPEC2 and 80 belong to SPEC3 as species threatened with extinction in Europe.
Regime of protection in PA ‘Atanassovsko Lake’ – it is prohibited to:

  • Remove characteristics of the landscape (boundary strips, single trees or groups of trees) during the usage of arable lands in the PA
  • Plant trees on grasslands or to turn them into arable lands and perennial plants
  • Use pesticides and chemical fertilizers
  • Implement draining activities, except for salt production
  • Cut reeds in the period between 1st of March and  the 15th of August (when it is the breeding season for the bird species in the PA)
  • Burn reed beds and costal vegetation
  • Build wind farms with the exception of those that are in accordance with Bulgarian legal ecological framework.