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New IBAs

Bulgaria and Romania enrich EU through Important Bird Areas…

BirdLife International has today launched twin inventories of the most important sites for wild birds in the two new Member States of the European Union, Bulgaria and Romania. Altogether 244 of these internationally important sites for biodiversity, known as Important Bird Areas (IBAs), have been identified in the two countries. They cover 40% of combined land surface. IBAs serve as a reference list for those areas to be protected by Member States under the EU Birds Directive and the Natura 2000 network. The BirdLife Partners in Bulgaria (BSPB) and Romania (SOR) present their IBA inventories nine months after the countries joined the EU.

The IBAs identified cover a diverse range of habitats such as lowland and mountain forests, wetlands and grasslands– landscapes that are rapidly disappearing from the rest of Europe. In Bulgaria, a large part of the IBAs designated host twenty-three globally threatened species like Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca, Semi-collared Flycatcher Ficedula semitorquata and the Red-Breasted Goose Branta ruficollis, which represents 70% of the global wintering population. Forty-six of Bulgarian IBAs hold important congregations of migratory species e.g. White Stork Ciconia ciconia, Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina and Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus.

In Romania, a large proportion of the IBAs support the twelve globally threatened species that occur in Romania, either as breeding or wintering species. The country plays an important role in maintaining the European breeding populations of seven species (Dalmatian pelican Pelecanus crispus, Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca, Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus, Saker Falcon Falco cherrug, Corncrake Crex crex and European Roller Coracias garrulus), and also supports important wintering populations of Lesser White-fronted Goose Anser erythropus, Red-breasted Goose, White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala and Greater-spotted Eagle Aquila clanga. Romanian IBAs also support more than 50% of the EU breeding population of seven species, including Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides, Pygmy Cormorant Phalacrocorax pygmeus and Red-footed Falcon. However, BirdLife is very concerned that the legal protection of these areas will not keep pace with the rapid economic development, including for tourism along the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria and in the mountains of Romania.

"We want the governments of both countries to urgently put in place the legal protection required by EU legislation, before irreversible damage is done to these sites of high natural beauty," said Konstantin Kreiser, EU Policy Manager, BirdLife European Division.

4th July 2014