Sakar Special Protection Area (BG0002021)
Sakar Special Protection Area (SPA) is located in the south-east of Bulgaria. It consists of low, round mountains and open valleys in the Svilengrad and Topolovgrad municipalities.
Landscape and biodiversity
The typical habitats of the area include dry-tolerant grasses, Christ’s thorn bush and mixed oak woods. Many river banks still have old white and hybrid poplar trees which provide good nesting sites for birds of prey. The area boasts with a rich biodiversity. Among the species here are: Eastern spadefoot, Balkan glass snake, eastern Montpellier snake, forest dormouse, red deer, hare, European souslik. There are globally threatened species too: Hermann’s and spur-thighed tortoises and marbled polecat.
The bird diversity is even richer: 221 species; 59 of them are included in the Bulgarian Red List, and 96 have conservation significance on a European level.
The Sakar area is of high significance for the protection of birds of prey in Bulgaria, particularly species such as the imperial eagle, lesser spotted eagle, booted eagle, long-legged buzzard, and black kite. In the past the area had favorable conditions for the existence of a population of the Egyptian vulture. At present, however, the species is not represented here.
Local people exploit the area extensively (in a traditional, nature-friendly way – with a minimal use of chemicals, heavy machinery and over-exploitation of the land) mainly for animal husbandry, and agriculture and forestry on a smaller scale.
Activities leading to the loss of biodiversity include: ploughing pastures for receiving governmental subsidies, and then abandoning them; fires in dry pastureland and meadows, as well as in the plantations of coniferous trees; poaching; construction of wind and solar parks on sites with high conservational value.
About 0,1 % of the Sakar territory is protected under the Protected Areas Act. There are seven nature sites, declared protected for their landscape, rock formations or rare plant species. In 1997 the area is declared Important Bird Area by BirdLife International.