Mandra-Poda complex

Protected Area “Mandra-Poda”


Protected Area “Mandra-Poda”

Name: protected area „Mandra-Poda”

Some parts of the villages of Dimchevo and Tvarditsa (in the Municipality of Burgas) are included in the protected area. It also includes sections of the villages of Konstantinovo and Cherni Vrah (in the Municipality of Kameno), Zidarovo, Izvor and Prisad (the Municipality of Sozopol), as well as Debelt (the Municipality of Sredets). The residential quarters Kraimorie and Meden Rudnik also belong to the protected area.

Geographical features:
The artificial lake ‘Mandra’ and the water basins in the protected area ‘Poda’ are the most important features for the biodiversity of the protected area. It is also sometimes called the ‘Mandra-Poda’ complex and is integrated in the Burgas wetlands that include also Atanassovsko Lake and Vaya Lake. ‘Mandra’ was formed by building a dam in the eastern part. The breeding ponds and unfortunately the oxidizing lakes of ‘Lukoil Bourgas’ also comprise parts of the complex. Another part of it is the protected area ‘Ustie na reka Izvorska’. All these unique components make the protected area very unique and varied.

Mandra-Poda is a complex of water basins with different levels of saltiness. The natural and artificial water basins of the complex offer diverse living conditions and a rich feeding environment for its inhabitants. ‘Mandra’ has fresh water sources, as the rivers Izvorska, Fakiiska, Sredetska and Rusokastrenska all flow into it. In the protected area ‘Poda’, the water basins have different compositions: fresh, brackish and salty lagoons. Four oxidation ponds of ‘Lukoil Burgas’ also make up part of the complex. One of them has already been recultivated and filled with soil. The other three still receive warm freshwater from the refinery used for cooling, which makes them a favourable place for many of the birds.


Life in the protected area:
The main treasure of the complex are the birds. It is amazing that 274 bird species are registered there and many of them are globally threatened. On the complex’s waters, species like the Pygmy Cormorant, White-headed Duck, Ferruginous Duck, Red-breasted Duck, Lesser White-fronted Goose and Corncrake can all be observed. Big flocks of Common Pochard and Tufted Duck migrate here to survive during the coldest winter days, as well as Whooper Swan and Tundra Swan. PA ‘Poda’ is very important as a breeding site for Common Spoonbill. This beautiful white bird has become the PA symbol and the Pied Avocet also nests here. The complex is one of the three places on the Black Sea coast where the ‘lords of the sky’, White-tailed Eagles, nest.
The last colony of Great White Pelicans in Bulgaria nested at Mandra Lake until 1940. Its disappearance is thought to be due to the building of the artificial lake as the western part of Mandra was flooded and the reed massifs, which were valuable for the pelicans, disappeared. Another reason was the disturbance from people. Nowadays, the Great White Pelicans use the artificial lake for feeding during migration although they prefer Burgas Lake. The lagoon of the PA ’Poda’ is overgrown with reeds and bulrush; the shallow and highly salty parts are covered with Salicornia.


The lake and the city:
The water basins of the PA “Mandra-Poda” are tangled with the town. The former lake “Mandra” and nowadays artificial lake is the main source of water for the cooling system for the oil refinery “Lukoil Bourgas” AD. The oil pipes also pass through the complex and it’s an additionally threat to the wetland in case of an industrial accident. The PA “Poda” is just next to the port of Bourgas and the old road Bourgas-Sozopol passes through the PA as well as some installations of the Oil refinery. All these facts have a negative impact on these important habitats. The growth of the city destroys the wet grasslands and the marshes around the lakes. The city nearby is the main reason for pollution with household and industrial wastes.

Main threats to the protected area:
Change or destruction of valuable habitats as a result of urbanization;

  • Pollution of the water basins with different types of wastes – household, industrial or wastes from the construction sites;
  • Noise pollution caused by the traffic on the international road to Turkey which passes through the PA;
  • Change of the land use aimed at the realization of different investment.



Regime of protection - 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  turn them into arable lands and perennial plants;
  • Use pesticides and chemical fertilizers;
  • Build wind farms with the exception of those that are in accordance with Bulgarian legal ecological framework;
  • Build ports and terminals with the exception of those that are in accordance with Bulgarian legal ecological framework;
  • Engage in draining activities connected with change of the water composition of marshes and natural water basins, except for when improving the condition of water ecosystems and habitats;
  • Reed cutting in the period between the 1st of March and the 15th of August as it is the breeding season for the bird species in the PA;
  • Burn reed beds and costal vegetation.

Scientific information:

Protected area ‘Mandra-Poda’ is part of the national ecological network in Bulgaria, in accordance with the Biodiversity Act. It is registered under number BG0000230 in the European ecological network Natura 2000. It is declared as such by the Birds Directive, which is aimed at protection and maintenance of the habitats of the protected birds. All of the activities implemented in the protected area are directed at recreation of the habitats and improvement of the ecological status of the protected species.

The total area of the PA is 61,358.72 da. It covers territories of several villages of the municipalities of Burgas, Kameno, Sozopol and Sredets. The protected area is part of the Burgas Lake complex, which is one of the most valuable wetland complexes for waterfowl birds on Bulgarian Black Sea coast. The following figures add weight to this statement:

  • 274 bird species are registered in the region of the Mandra complex;
  • 109 species are of European importance;
  • 12 species belong to the category SPEС1 (globally threatened);
  • 24 species belong to category SPEС2 (threatened in Europe) and 73 species belong to category SPEС3;
  • The designations ensure suitable habitats for 68 species included in Appendix 2 of the Biodiversity Act that need special protection measures.