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Natura 2000 site Arda Bridge


Surface – 15 022 hectares

The site covers the Arda river course from the village of Rabovo to the town of Madzharovo and the northern parts of Iranov Ridge. To the north it borders on the villages of Madzhari, Voyvodets, Dolno Pole, Rumelia and Gorno Pole; to the west – on the villages of Pchelari, Golobradovo, Rabovo, Potochnitsa and Stari Chal. Its southern border passes through Krasino, Sbor and Bubino and its eastern one lies between Bubino, Chernichino and Madzharovo. The area is a part of the Arda river valley between the reservoirs of Studen Kladenets and Ivailovgrad and is surrounded by forested mountain slopes and rock massifs.

The biggest share of its territory is occupied by broadleaved xerothermal forests. At places the screes are covered by mixed broadleaved forests of Quercus cerris, Quercus frainetto and Quercus pubescens, with Mediterranean elements, like Juniperus oxycedrus, Colutea arborescens, etc. There are isolated areas, covered by shrubs of Paliurus spina-christi mixed with Jasminum fruticans and combined with xerothermal grass formations of Mediterranean elements. In the southern part of the site the forests of Quercus dalechampii are represented, in some places mixed with Quercus frainetto. The share of open grasslands with xerothermal and alluvial-meadow grass formations (mainly around the river), as well as that of the shrub associations with Mediterranean elements, is also considerable. The agricultural lands are located in the valley extension itself and on the slopes and flat tops of the surrounding hills. The riverbed is sandy-stone and its banks are overgrown with willows Salix spp. and shrubs.

The region of Arda Bridge supports 142 bird species. Of the birds occurring there 65 species are of European conservation concern (SPEC), 5 of them being listed in category SPEC 1 as globally threatened, 19 in SPEC 2 and 41 in SPEC 3 as species threatened in Europe. The area provides suitable habitats for 49 species, included in Annex 2 of the Biodiversity Act, which need special conservation measures, of which 43 are listed also in Annex I of the Birds Directive. The area is of global importance, as it is a representative example for the Mediterranean biome. Seven biome-restricted species, typical for the Mediterranean biome out of 9 established in Bulgaria occur there: Blackeared Wheatear, Olive-tree Warbler, Masked Shrike, Sub-alpine Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Rock Nuthatch and Black-headed Bunting. It is one of the most important sites in the country on a European union scale for the Stone Curlew, the Black Stork and the Egyptian Vulture. The Arda Bridge is important site on a European level for the Scops Owl and the Blue Rock Thrush. Other breeding species with representative populations there are the Olive-tree Warbler, the Ortolan Bunting, the Barred Warbler, etc.

About 12% of the site’s territory is under legal protection by the national nature conservation law. There are 5 protected areas here. Half of the territory overlaps with Dolinata na Arda CORINE Site, which was designated in 1998 because of its European value for rare and threatened habitats, plant and animal species, including birds. In 2005 the site was designated as Important Bird Area by BirdLife International. The IBA is approved as SPA under Bird Directive.

Reduction in grazing as well as conversion of pastures to arable lands cause loss of grassland habitats for birds. Investment projects related to gold mining industry is a serious threat for the area, which could cause destruction and fragmentation of habitats at large scale, disturbance to breeding birds, as well as pollution of the rivers. One of the potential threats both to the habitats and to the birds in the area is the development of wind turbine farms.


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