Database release:

For Special Protection Areas (SPA),
Proposed Sites for Community Importance (pSCI),
Sites of Community Importance (SCI) and
for Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)



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1.1 Type


1.2 Site code


1.3 Site name

Vrachanski Balkan

1.4 First Compilation date


1.5 Update date


1.6 Respondent:

Name/Organisation:Ministry of Environment and Water, “National Nature Protection Service” Directorate
Address:  Sofia  22    Sofia    1000  Kn. Maria Luiza Blvd.

1.7 Site indication and designation / classification dates

Date site classified as SPA:2007-03
National legal reference of SPA designationSite classified as SPA by Council of Ministers Decision No. 122/02.03.2007 (promulgated SG 21/2007).
Explanation(s):Site classified as SPA by Council of Ministers Decision No. 122/02.03.2007 (promulgated SG 21/2007). Issued designation order by the Minister of Environment and Water with prohibitions and restrictions on activities contradicting the conservation objectives of the site – Order No. RD – 801/04.11.2008 (promulgated SG 105/2008).


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2.1 Site-centre location [decimal degrees]:


2.2 Area [ha]


2.3 Marine area [%]


2.4 Sitelength [km]:


2.5 Administrative region code and name

NUTS level 2 code Region Name

2.6 Biogeographical Region(s)

Alpine (76.60 %) Continental (23.40 %)


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3.2 Species referred to in Article 4 of Directive 2009/147/EC and listed in Annex II of Directive 92/43/EEC and site evaluation for them

Species Population in the site Site assessment
G Code Scientific Name S NP T Size Unit Cat. D.qual. A|B|C|D A|B|C
      MinMax  Pop.Con.Iso.Glo.
BA086Accipiter nisus     
BA168Actitis hypoleucos     
BA168Actitis hypoleucos          DD 
BA229Alcedo atthis     
BA465Alectoris graeca graeca    30  50   
BA053Anas platyrhynchos          DD       
BA053Anas platyrhynchos           
BA055Anas querquedula          DD       
BA091Aquila chrysaetos     
BA089Aquila pomarina          DD 
BA215Bubo bubo    20  20   
BA087Buteo buteo    15  20   
BA087Buteo buteo          DD 
BA403Buteo rufinus    10  11   
BA243Calandrella brachydactyla          DD 
BA224Caprimulgus europaeus          DD 
BA224Caprimulgus europaeus    50  50   
BA031Ciconia ciconia    12  12   
BA030Ciconia nigra     
BA080Circaetus gallicus     
BA081Circus aeruginosus          DD 
BA083Circus macrourus          DD 
BA084Circus pygargus          DD 
BA231Coracias garrulus     
BA122Crex crex    34  34   
BA239Dendrocopos leucotos     
BA238Dendrocopos medius    12   
BA429Dendrocopos syriacus    80  120   
BA236Dryocopus martius    15  20   
BA027Egretta alba          DD 
BA026Egretta garzetta          DD 
BA379Emberiza hortulana    227  227   
BA511Falco cherrug     
BA511Falco cherrug       
BA511Falco cherrug       
BA103Falco peregrinus     
BA103Falco peregrinus    12   
BA099Falco subbuteo     
BA099Falco subbuteo          DD 
BA096Falco tinnunculus    13  40   
BA096Falco tinnunculus    25  40   
BA442Ficedula semitorquata    56  56   
BA125Fulica atra          DD       
BА078Gyps fulvus    10  30 
BА078Gyps fulvus   
BA092Hieraaetus pennatus     
BA338Lanius collurio          DD 
BA338Lanius collurio    620  620   
BA339Lanius minor    15  25   
BA246Lullula arborea    275  275   
BA242Melanocorypha calandra    15  15   
BA230Merops apiaster          DD       
BA230Merops apiaster           
BA073Milvus migrans          DD 
BA077Neophron percnopterus       
BA072Pernis apivorus    12   
BA072Pernis apivorus          DD 
BA234Picus canus    10  15   
BA220Strix uralensis       
BA307Sylvia nisoria    40  80   
BA166Tringa glareola    10  10   
  • Group: A = Amphibians, B = Birds, F = Fish, I = Invertebrates, M = Mammals, P = Plants, R = Reptiles
  • S: in case that the data on species are sensitive and therefore have to be blocked for any public access enter: yes
  • NP: in case that a species is no longer present in the site enter: x (optional)
  • Type: p = permanent, r = reproducing, c = concentration, w = wintering (for plant and non-migratory species use permanent)
  • Unit: i = individuals, p = pairs or other units according to the Standard list of population units and codes in accordance with Article 12 and 17 reporting (see reference portal)
  • Abundance categories (Cat.): C = common, R = rare, V = very rare, P = present - to fill if data are deficient (DD) or in addition to population size information
  • Data quality: G = 'Good' (e.g. based on surveys); M = 'Moderate' (e.g. based on partial data with some extrapolation); P = 'Poor' (e.g. rough estimation); VP = 'Very poor' (use this category only, if not even a rough estimation of the population size can be made, in this case the fields for population size can remain empty, but the field "Abundance categories" has to be filled in)

3.3 Other important species of flora and fauna (optional)


Population in the site


Group CODE Scientific Name S NP Size Unit Cat. Species Annex Other categories
     MinMax C|R|V|PIVVABCD
A247Alauda arvensis    300  300               
A218Athene noctua    22  22               
A366Carduelis cannabina    90  90               
A363Carduelis chloris    200  200               
A347Corvus monedula    90  90               
A113Coturnix coturnix    50  50               
A377Emberiza cirlus    85  85               
A269Erithacus rubecula    1350  1350               
A359Fringilla coelebs    2450  2450               
A244Galerida cristata    80  80               
A251Hirundo rustica    700  700               
A233Jynx torquilla    60  60               
A271Luscinia megarhynchos    350  350               
A383Miliaria calandra    1150  1150               
A280Monticola saxatilis    35  35               
A214Otus scops    38  38               
A329Parus caeruleus    550  550               
A443Parus lugubris    115  115               
A235Picus viridis    65  65               
A345Pyrrhocorax graculus    65  65               
A276Saxicola torquata    30  30               
A210Streptopelia turtur    85  85               
A311Sylvia atricapilla    1000  1000               
A333Tichodroma muraria                 
A283Turdus merula    1625  1625               
A285Turdus philomelos    1000  1000               
  • Group: A = Amphibians, B = Birds, F = Fish, Fu = Fungi, I = Invertebrates, L = Lichens, M = Mammals, P = Plants, R = Reptiles
  • CODE: for Birds, Annex IV and V species the code as provided in the reference portal should be used in addition to the scientific name
  • S: in case that the data on species are sensitive and therefore have to be blocked for any public access enter: yes
  • NP: in case that a species is no longer present in the site enter: x (optional)
  • Unit: i = individuals, p = pairs or other units according to the standard list of population units and codes in accordance with Article 12 and 17 reporting, (see reference portal)
  • Cat.: Abundance categories: C = common, R = rare, V = very rare, P = present
  • Motivation categories: IV, V: Annex Species (Habitats Directive), A: National Red List data; B: Endemics; C: International Conventions; D: other reasons


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4.1 General site character

Habitat class % Cover

Total Habitat Cover


Other Site Characteristics

The site includes Vrachanski Balkan Nature Park with the bigger part of the Vrachanska Mountain and the massif of Lakatnik Rocks. It occupies the area between the pre-Balkan and the main Balkan Mountain chain and rises south of the town of the town of Vratsa and the Vratsa plain. Its limit to the south is the deeply cutting gorge of the Iskar river. Its western limit is Druzhevska saddle. It is about 30 km long and 10–15 km wide. The base rock is carbonate – Triast and Jura limestones, which are quite characteristic for karst development. A big part of the territory of the Vrachanski Balkan is occupied by surface karst forms, like hollows, potholes, whirlpools, etc., situated among secondary grasslands and large beech forests. Concerning the vegetation, there is a clear vertical distinction of two belts: up to 700 m – oak, from 700 m to 1000 m – beech. The characteristic geological and morphological structure of the Vrachanski Balkan – the presence of big areas occupied by vertical rocks and screes – define the comparatively broad distribution of chasmophyte plant communities (such, adhering to rocks) of Mediterranean type. As a rule this type of vegetation is xerophytic, heliophilic and prefers limestone rock terrain. Typical for the mountain are the forests of Fagus moesiaca with undergrowth of Daphne laureola and the forests of Carpinus betulus with undergrowth of Daphne oleoides. At some places there are forests and groups of trees of Austrian pine /Pinus nigra/ with relict character. On the screes there are communities of Acer monspessulanum, Juglans regia, etc. The territory supports over 700 species of vascular plants, which is almost 1/5 of Bulgaria’s flora. Fifty six of them are declared protected, as they are rare and threatened with extinction, and 26 are protected by the Biodiversirty Conservation Act.

4.2 Quality and importance

Vrachanski Balkan is one of the most interesting land forms, clearly standing out on the background of the other shares of the Western Balkan and the pre-Balkan. With its diversity of rocky crests, rounded tops, valleys, saddles, pot-holes and other forms, as well as with the relatively great difference in its altitude (from 200 to 1482 m) and diverse broadleaved and coniferous vegetation, it contributes to the existence of rich ornithofauna. It supports 139 bird species, 27 of which are listed in the Red Data Book for Bulgaria (1985). Of the birds occurring there 58 species are of European conservation concern (SPEC) (BirdLife International, 2004), 3 of them being listed in category SPEC 1 as globally threatened – the Corncrake Crex crex, 17 in SPEC 2 and 38 in SPEC 3 as species threatened in Europe. The area provides suitable habitats for 47 species, included in Annex 2 of the Biodiversity Act, which need special conservation measures, of which 40 are listed also in Annex I of the Birds Directive. Vrachanski Balkan is of global importance for the Corncrake, which breeds there in considerable numbers. The area is one of the most important sites in Bulgaria on European Union scale for 5 bird species that breed there. These are the Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus, Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus, Saker Falco cherrug, Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus and Eagle Owl Bubo bubo. The Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos, the Black Stork Ciconia nigra, the Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio and the Kestrel Falco tinnunuculus have also representative breeding populations in the region.

4.3 Threats, pressures and activities with impacts on the site

The most important impacts and activities with high effect on the site

Negative Impacts
RankThreats and pressures [code]Pollution (optional) [code]inside/outside [i|o|b]
Positive Impacts
RankActivities, management [code]Pollution (optional) [code]inside/outside [i|o|b]

Rank: H = high, M = medium, L = low
Pollution: N = Nitrogen input, P = Phosphor/Phosphate input, A = Acid input/acidification,
T = toxic inorganic chemicals, O = toxic organic chemicals, X = Mixed pollutions
i = inside, o = outside, b = both

4.5 Documentation

Initial proposal and description of the site made by G. Stoyanov - Birds of Prey Protection Society, 1000 Sofia, 40 "V. Levski" blvd., tel: 963 40 37, e-mail:; K. Donchev, L. Profirov - Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds, Bulgaria, 1111 Sofia, P.O.Box 50, phone (+359 2) 9715855, fax (+359 2) 9715856, . Data revised by a team of Bulgarian Academy of Sciences ( Documents: BDZP/BirdLife Balgariya. 2005. “Nacionalna banka za ornitologichna informacia 1988-2005”, Balgarsko Druzhestvo za zastita na pticite; Botev, B. and Tz. Peshev, (eds). 1985. Red Data Book of Republic Bulgaria. 2: Animals. Sofia: Bulgarian Academy of Science. (In Bulgarian.); Iankov, P. 2002.(red.). Svetovno zastrasheni vidove ptici v Bulgaria. Nacionalni planove za dejstvie za opazvaneto im. Chast 1. BDZP-MOSV, Prirodozashtitna poredica, Kn. 4, Sofia: 204-219.; Georgiev, V. 1995. Pticite na Vrachanska planina. Diplomna rabota, Biologicheski fakultet pri SU “Sv. Kl. Ohridski”, Sofia, 64 s.; Michev, T., C. Petrov, L. Profirov, P. Iankov, S. Gavrailov. 1989. Razprostranenie I prirodozashtiten status na skalnia orel Aquila chrisaetos chrisaetos (L.), 1758 v Bulgaria. – Izv. Muz. IU. Bulgaria, 15, 79-87.; MOSV. 2005. Arhiv na zastitenite teritorii v Balgaria. Baza danni (nepubl.); Nikolov, B., I. Hristov, P. Shurulinkov, I. Nikolov, A. Rogev, A. Ducov, R. Stanchev. 2001. Novi danni za niakoi slabo izucheni vidove gorski sovi (Strix uralensis, Glaucidium passerinum, Aegolius funereus) v Bulgaria. - Nauka za gorata, Kn. 1/2, 75-86.; Petrov, .C 1997b. Beliat shturkel (Ciconia ciconia) v Bulgaria. Prirodozashtitna poredica, Kniga 2, BDZP, Plovdiv.; Petrov, C., P.Iankov, T. Michev, B. Milchev, L. Profirov. 1991. Razprostranenie, chislenost I merki za opazvane na chernia shturkel, Ciconia nigra (L.) v Bulgaria. – Izv. Muz. IU. Bulgaria, T. 17, 25-32.; Simeonov, S., T. Michev. 1985. Suvremenno razprostranenie I chislenost na buhala (Bubo bubo(L.) v Bulgaria. – Ekologia, 15, 60-65.; Stoianov, G. 1996. Gnezdova ornotofauna na skalnite biotopi na Iskurskia prolom. Diplomna rabota, Biologicheski fakultet pri SU “Sv. Kl. Ohridski”, Sofia.; BirdLife International. 2000. Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, 695pp. Birdlife International. 2004. Birds in Europe: Population estimates, trends and conservation status. Cambridge, UK: Birdlife International (Birdlife Conservation Series No. 12).373pp.; BSPB/BirdLife International. 2005. World Bird Database – Important Birds Areas.Bulgaria. Cambridge. (unpublished); Georgiev, V., B. Milchev, B. 2000. Birds of the Vratza Mountains. II Breeding bird atlas. – Ann. Univ. Sofia “St Kliment Ochridski” 91: 83-109.; Guidelines for evaluation of protected zones according, which include habitats for birds to art.7, par.3, under the art.6 par.1.3 and 1.4 of the Biodiversity Act. 2005. (In Bulgarian.); Kostadinova, I., M. Mihailov, (comp.) 2002. Guide for NATURA 2000 in Bulgaria. BSPB nature conservation series No5. BSPB, Sofia, 80pp. (In Bulgarian.); Kostadinova, I. 2005. Application of C criteria for Identification of Important Bird Areas of European Union importance in Bulgaria. Preliminarily implementation and analysis of the gaps. – In: Petrova, A. (ed.), Current state of Bulgarian biodiversity – problems and perspectives. Pp. 533-548. Bulgarian Bioplatform, Sofia Kouzmanov, G., G. Stoyanov, R. Todorov. 1996. Sur la Biologie et la Protection de l’Aigle royal Aquila chrysaetos en Bulgarie. - In: Meyburg, B.-U. & R.D. Chancellor eds. 1994. Raptor Conservation Today, WWGBP/ The Pica Press, 505-515.; Michev, T., Tz. Petrov, L. Profirov. 1989. Status, breeding, distribution, numbers and conservation of the White Stork in Bulgaria MOEW. 1998. CORINE Biotopes Database of the sites of European Importance for the biodiversity. Bulgaria, MOSV (nepubl.); Osieck, E. 2000 Filling in the requirements of the EU Birds Directive: Lessons from the ‘Dutch Case’“. In: European IBA Workshop. 29 March - 2 April 2000, Brussels, Belgium. Proceedings. BirdLife International, 86-99; Waliczky, Z. 2000 “Important Bird Areas of European Union Importance: explanation of the EU Criteria applied in IBA 2000“ In: European IBA Workshop. 29 March - 2 April 2000, Brussels, Belgium. Proceedings. BirdLife International, 12-16


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5.1 Designation types at national and regional level:

Code Cover [%]

5.2 Relation of the described site with other sites:

Designated at national or regional level:

Type code Site name Type Cover [%]

5.3 Site designation (optional)

The site includes – Vrachanski Balkan – the second largest park in Bulgaria, which covers 98% of the territory of the site. The park was designated in 1989 and declared as Nature Park of international importance in 1997. Its mission: to preserve biodiversity and the beauty of nature, to preserve cultural and historical heritage and to assure the recreation of tourist and locals. The park territory covers 28,844.8 ha – 20,733.4 ha of those are forest areas and 8,111.4 ha are agricultural areas. The park represents most of the Vratsa mountains and the massif of Lakatnik`s rocks. In the frame of this Park about 1,440 ha are protected as a Strict Reserve “Vrachanski Karst” with 477 ha buffer zone. It is designated for protection of a karst region with very interesting rock formations, and Vratsata, the highest vertical limestone walls (over 400 m) on the Balkan Peninsula and in Europe at low altitude. The park’s characteristic limestone karst is the richest cave region in Bulgaria. Over 500 caves and precipices are located here. They are unique because of their beauty and cave-dwelling organisms. Few of the caves, as well as three typical rocky landscapes are protected by the national nature conservation law. In 1998 Vrachanski Balkan was designated as CORINE Site, because of its European value for rare and threatened habitats, plant and animal species, including birds. In 2005 it was designated also as Important Bird Area by BirdLife International.


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6.1 Body(ies) responsible for the site management:

Organisation:Vrachanski Balkan Nature Park Directorate;Regional Inspectorates of Environment and Water -Vratsa, Montana, Sofia; Danubean River Basin Directorate;

6.2 Management Plan(s):

An actual management plan does exist:

Yes Name: Management Plan for Vrachanski Balkan Nature Park, adopted by Council of Ministers Decision No. 750/14.10.2011 (promulgated SG 82/2011).

No, but in preparation

6.3 Conservation measures (optional)

Management plan for the Nature Park.



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