Batova SPA



The site is located in north-eastern Bulgaria, to the north of Varna, and covers the Batova river valley and the bigger part of  Frangensko Plateau, including the coastline from Albena to Zlatni Pyasatsi Resorts and the adjacent shallow littoral area. To the north it borders on the villages of Sokolnik, Odurtsi, Hrabrovo, Ljahovo and Obrochishte, to the east – on the Black Sea coastlinesouth of Albena tourist resort down to Zlatni Pyasatsi. To the south-west of Zlatni Pyasatsi the border passes along the edge of the plateau north of the villages of Vinitsa residential area, Kamenar, Vladislavovo and Aksakovo. Near the village of Izvorsko it turns north through Novakovo and Debrene to Sokolnik.

There are several types of habitats on the site’s territory, but the biggest share belongs to the broad leaved forests of Quercus cerris, Q. frainetto and Carpinus betulus and the farmlands. The rest of the site’s area is occupied by open grasslands, at places overgrown with shrub vegetation, pastures, meadows, orchards and vineyards. The latter are located around the settlements.

The region of the Batova estuary is occupied by natural longoze flooded forests of Baltata with marshland hygrophyte formations. The longoze flooded forest is dominated by Fraxinusoxycarpa, Ulmus minor, Quercus pedunculiflora, Acer campestrе and Alnus glutinosa, withundergrowth of Crataegus monogyna, Cornus mas and Cornus sanguinea, often combined with mesophyte and hygrophyte grass vegetation. Other typical plants are the lianas and climbing plants as Clematis vitalba, Smilax exelsa, Periploca graeca, etc.

The birds in the protected area

The SPA Batova is a complex of different habitats, typical both for woodland bird species and for waterbirds as well as farmland birds. It supports 184 bird species, 70 of which are listed in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria. The area provides suitable habitats for 70 species, included in Annex 2 of the Biodiversity Act, which need special conservation measures, of which 62 are listed also in Annex I of the Birds Directive.

Because of its importance for over 30 migrating soaring species Batova is defined as a bottleneck migration site of global importance. Three flows of migrating birds, coming from the Dobrudzha meet over the Batova river valley. 11% of the migratory birds fly not higher than 150 m above land, and 35% of the migratory birds fly between 160 and 500 m. At Batova was recorded also the biggest number of migratory White Pelicans Pelecanus onocrotalus and Cranes Grus grus along the northern Black Sea coast. The forests in Batova are used regularly by raptors as roosting sites during migration.

SPA Batova is area of former breeding occurrence of Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug). Today the species is recorded to regularly migrate through the SPA. Targeted studies during the period 2008 – 2013 confirmed that the area is important migration and stop over site for the Saker Falcon and for a number of other raptor species. LIFE09NAT/HU/000384 project allocated Batova as an important area for the staging and migrating juveniles, especially from the Hungarian population. Satellite tagged birds from Hungary were staging in different parts of the area.
The individuals, which spend migration and staging period of the year in suitable habitats of the SPA, are important source for natural repopulation of the North-Eastern Bulgaria. Reducing the mortality of juveniles is of importance for the stability of the overall European population and a significant potential for natural restoration of the Bulgarian breeding population.

Threats to the protected area

  • Human activities
    The wetlands are sensitive to human activities related to water management. The water regime of the flooded forest is destroyed and that is considered as a main threat to its normal functioning as an ecosystem. Intensive development of tourism, settlements enlargement cause fragmentation, deterioration and loss of habitats mainly in the coastal zone, but also in the grasslands.
  • Wind turbine Farms
    The region is sensitive to plans of wind turbine farms development. This could disturb the free movement and access of birds to suitable habitats.
  • Fires and afforestation
    Forests are threatened by intensive forestry activities, burning and natural fires, affecting the quality and composition of LSE breeding habitats and cause disturbance to breeding birds. The grasslands are vulnerable to abandonment and conversion to arable lands and afforestation.