Belene Islands Complex

Site description (2000 baseline):

Site location and context
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).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The main problems are the lowered water-levels in the Danube and the subsequent drying-out of wetlands, resulting from the `Iron Gate' Dam in Serbia and from dykes built along the banks of Belene. Special measures are needed to restore water-levels. Illegal tree-cutting, grazing and hunting are also problems, as is the potential construction of a nuclear power-station near Belene.

Protected areas
National Partial International None25 ha of IBA covered by Nature Reserve (Kitka Island, 25 ha). 385 ha of IBA covered by Nature Reserve (Persinski marshes, 385 ha). 719 ha of IBA covered by National Monument (Persina Iztok, 719 ha).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Belene Islands Complex. Downloaded from on 23/09/2023.