The international project “Conservation of the Dalmatian pelican along the Black-Sea Mediterranean Flyway” (“Pelican Way of LIFE”), in which the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) and the Persina Nature Park Directorate are the partners for Bulgaria, is among the nominated projects for the prestigious European Natura 2000 Award of the European Commission.
The project is among the 21 selected to compete for the award in five categories – Conservation on land, Marine conservation, Communication, Socio-economic benefits, and Cross-border cooperation. The finalists from all categories are automatically entered into a public vote and the finalist with the highest number of votes wins the coveted Citizens’ Award. Anyone can support “Pelican Way of LIFE” project until April 27 by casting their vote at the following link: https://bit.ly/3N3Tghk
This year the emphasis is on the protection of wetlands (sea and coastal areas).
The award is given to the most successful projects that have contributed to the conservation and management of the European ecological network Natura 2000. Emphasis is placed on conservation activities, raising public awareness of valuable habitats and biodiversity and highlighting the socio-economic benefits of the protected areas. The award has been presented since 2013 in order to promote the efforts of all European countries in the protection of Natura 2000 protected areas and to recognize the achievements of various organizations and institutions.
The awarding of the six finalists in the categories will take place in Brussels during a special ceremony in May.
The Pelican Way of LIFE project is dedicated to the conservation of the Dalmatian Pelican on the Balkan Peninsula. The species is a symbol of wetlands and an indicator of the condition of these endangered habitats. The rarest of the whole pelican family, with only nine remaining colonies in Europe, but also an “umbrella” species whose conservation benefits many other species and biodiversity in general.
In 2011-2012, as part of a conservation project, together with experts from Persina Nature Park Directorate and WWF-Bulgaria, we built three wooden platforms in the swamps of Persina Island to encourage Dalmatian pelicans to nest in this valuable habitat. In 2016, the long-term efforts were crowned with success – after more than 60 years with the only colony in Lake Srebarna, the second breeding colony of the species in Bulgaria was formed! In the following years, the new colony continued to grow and in 2021 reached a record of 88 pairs. And in the spring of 2021, a third breeding colony of the Dalmatian Pelican was formed in Bulgaria. The birds occupied a wooden platform in the Nature 2000 area “Kalimok Complex“, near the town of Tutrakan.
Due to the drying up of wetlands, power line collisions, poaching, disturbance, and Avian influenza, the planet’s existence of this majestic species is still threatened. Therefore, the creation of new breeding colonies in Bulgaria is one of the most significant conservation successes not only in the country but also in Europe. The restoration of key wetlands, the successful partnership between NGOs and government institutions, as well as the construction of wooden platforms for the safe nesting of the species have led to these outstanding results.
Conservation activities for the Dalmatian Pelican are part of the Pelican Way of LIFE project (LIFE18 NAT/NL/000716), funded by the LIFE Programme of the European Union and with the assistance of the Whitley Fund for Nature. The project is coordinated by Rewilding Europe, and the other partners besides BSPB and Persina Nature Park Directorate are the Romanian Ornithological Society/BirdLife Romania (SOR), the Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOS), Rewilding Ukraine, and Rewilding Danube Delta.