Belene Islands Complex

Country/territory: Bulgaria

IBA criteria met: A1, A4i, B1i, B2, C1, C2, C3, C6 (2005)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 6,897 ha

Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds

Site description (2000 baseline)
The eastern part of the largest Bulgarian island (Belene) along the River Danube. Three large marshes, with open-water areas partly covered by floating water-plants and fringed by reedbeds of Phragmites, Sparganium and Alisma, and which are surrounded by seasonally flooded forest (Salix, Populus) and wet meadows (Cynodon, Scirpus). There are two smaller islands (one called Kitka), also covered with flooded forest. The complex lies between kilometres 576 and 560 of the Danube. Human activities include cattle-grazing in the buffer zone of the Persinski marshes reserve, agriculture in surrounding areas and hunting (including international hunting tourism).

Key biodiversity
Formerly one of the most important breeding sites in the country for Phalacrocorax pygmeus (max. 40 pairs) and Plegadis falcinellus (max. 60 pairs), which stopped breeding on the island about 10 years ago. They would probably breed again if water-levels were restored, but such site-management depends on finding the necessary funding. Breeding species of global conservation concern that do not meet IBA criteria: Haliaetus albicilla (1 pair). Significant proportion (³1%) of national population breeding at site: Platalea leucorodia (rare).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Important Bird Area factsheet: Belene Islands Complex. Downloaded from on 27/02/2024.