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Srebarna Appeal

Srebarna appeals for help. ‘Biosphere Reserve Srebarna due to its biological diversity is one of the most important natural reserves in Bulgaria.’ Nikola Mihov. Now the reserve and the pelicans are in danger.

Srebarna has been designated
- From 1975, a wetland with international significance according to Ramsar convention
- From 1977, a biosphere reserve according to the UNESCO “Man and biosphere” programme.
- From 1983, a monument of world natural heritage of UNESCO
- From 1989, ornithologically important area in Europe

‘There is no other natural place in our country or maybe even in the world with its unique factors’

- The richness and variety of flora and fauna.
- The compact nature of its floating reed beds
- The surrounding hills.

Tourists show a great interest in the ornithological fauna in this 902.1ha park, which is home to 50% of all the bird species in our country.

Reed Islands/beds filtrate the water and are a shelter for most of the animals living here.

The hills surrounding three sides of the area, with the exception of the north, make it easy for access and observation without disturbance of its inhabitants.

On 20th September this year Srebarna celebrates its 60 years anniversary since it was made a reserve and since an obstructive dike was built.

This is a historical fact and a paradox too. In fact with this dike, the natural process has been disrupted, every year the Danube with its water had purged the lake, refreshed its water and cleansed sediments from the dead vegetation and the alluvium of the surrounding hills.

In 1979 600m of this obstructive dike were destroyed. At that place the level of the terrain is higher than the level in the north side by 1m.

This means that since then in Srebarna, only surface water from the Danube has entered and the sediment on the bottom, which is 2m deep nowadays, has remained untouched. This shallow and the thick sediment brought different ecological problems, like disturbances in the waters’ composition and disintegration of the reed islands.

Since 1975 the reed and marsh vegetation has not been cut or taken out. The old vegetation is piled up on the reed beds and silt has built up. Reed root mass is lessened, in fact this is the reason that these reed beds always follow water level. Actually the reed surface area is lessened because of the great number of marsh willow trees (Salix cinerea).

We are quickly approaching the time when these reed islands will remain on the bottom and themselves turn into sediment. This means that if the natural connection between Srebarna and the river is not restored alongside yearly reed cutting and removal there is a great risk of losing this vitally important wetland site for good. This will lead to the pelicans (Pelecanus crispus) the symbol of Srebarna will, along with other rare birds prefer to make their nests in neighbouring Romanian territory. Our future generations will not forgive us for our unwise inactions.

What has to be done to save Srebarna? You can help save this critical reserve and the pelicans by visiting

Nikola Mihov