BSPB shared experience and innovatory practices in wetland management with Bulgarian experts

The team of project “Life for the Bourgas Lakes” funded by EU LIFE+ program and implemented by Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds shared its experience in management of Bourgas wetlands with experts from all over the country. The team welcomed the Representatives of Ministry of Environment and Waters (MOEW) and its territorial structures as well as of Natural Park “Persina” at protected area “Poda” and managed reserve “Atanassovsko Lake” near Bourgas. During their visit they witnessed the implementation of some of the activities for the recovery and improvement of the wetlands.
BSPB experts demonstrated innovatory practices in management of the two protected areas. One of them is management of reed beds through reed cutting and removal of biomass. The activity is aimed at recovery and improvement of habitats that are vital for the protection of priority bird species. The reed cutting is implemented by special “amphibian” machine hired from Rumania. The participants in the event witnessed reed cutting in several water basins in protected area “Poda”. The special machine could cut reeds in the lakes approximately 50 cm under water level. This makes the reed cutting more efficient. With the same machine the biomass is removed from the water basin and thus the condition of the habitat will improve significantly.
The reeds in the protected area were cut manually during the years. This method is very slow, engages many people and could be used only in shallow parts of the water basins. The biggest disadvantage is that the reed cutting is implemented over the water level and the reeds grow up again quickly. When the reeds are cut under water, the water enters in the cut stems and destroys the reeds. After that the reeds grow up slowly. That is why the BSPB experts investigated the problem and found the suitable machine to solve it efficiently.
The protection of wetlands is a complicated process, so the BSPB experts demonstrated another technology for removal of old reeds in order to form open water mirrors and small reed beds. They presented to the visitors the results from burning of 0.4 ha reeds in the protected area. The controlled burning of the vegetation was made in winter and followed strictly the recommendations of MOEW. The experience revealed that the burning should be implemented when the meteorological conditions are favorable (appropriate direction and strength of wind, low humidity and temperature) in order to achieve best results in destroying old and compact reed beds and decaying biomass.
By applying this practice the experts aim conservation of key reed beds which are vital for ensuring productive habitat. Priority bird species like Great Bittern prefer to feed in thin reed beds growing in shallow water basins. Only a month after the burning of reeds the habitat improved its condition significantly. Some fish species and birds like Glossy Ibises, Waders and Little Egrets get advantage of the new open water mirrors.
Another method for the protection and improvement of the wetlands used by BSPB experts in the protected areas was the creation of new open water areas by using mortiser. This method was applied in areas where the natural water mirrors disappeared during the years due to the overgrowth of the reeds. Usage of heavy machinery allowed the creation of open water areas which are approximately 2 meters deep. These areas will be used not only by ducks, plovers, grebes and egrets but also by various fish and larvae that serve as food for the birds. The slant coasts of the new water areas will give the opportunity to nesting birds like spoonbills, ibises, herons and egrets to hunt successfully.
With the help of the specialized machinery were created several channels connecting the water basins in Poda and the sea. Three artificial islands were constructed. This spring 25 Collard Pratincoles chose one of them for nesting which points out that the BSPB team is heading in right direction.