Natural Habitat

A natural habitat is a region with specific light, temperature, soil, bedrock, etc., inhabited by specific plant, animal, fungi and microorganism species. These characteristics are constant for every habitat type. Habitats are classified according to the plant communities in them. In Bulgaria, there are marine, coastal, grassland, shrubland, forest, rocky and cave, freshwater and marsh and peatland habitats.

The diverse climate, hydrological regime, soil and plant cover make the diversity of habitats in Bulgaria possible. The country is among the 5 richest in different habitat types in Europe. Around 37% of the habitats, deemed of high conservational priority in the EU are found in Bulgaria. These include the rarest and most fragile ones in Europe.

The condition of a natural habitat is considered favourable, when the area it covers remains constant in size or increases, when its structure and functions are stable and when the condition of its typical species is good.

Natural habitats in Europe are declining in area and are in increasingly worst condition, because of excessive use or abandonment of traditional practices in pastures and meadows, drying out and pollution of bodies of water, entry of alien and invasive animal and plant species, urbanization, destructive fishing practices in seas and oceans, etc. These are serious habitat threats.

Regions with Rare Natural Habitats

See a map of the regions in the country with a large number of habitats, included in the Red Data Book of the Republic of Bulgaria

Natural Habitat Conservation

Conservation happens through:

  • Legal protection – The Habibat Directive (92/43/EEC) and the Bulgarian national legislation
  • Protected areas and zones in the Natura 2000 ecological network in Bulgaria and the European Union
  • Limiting practices, with damaging consequences for habitats and the species within them such as: plowing natural grasslands, unregulated felling, overuse of resources, pollution, the spread of non-native and invasive plant species including cases of their spread with originally good intentions as for soil retention, providing food for the bees, etc.
  • Activities for improving the status, maintaining or restoring the habitats – removal of IAS; afforestation of habitat-specific species of native origin, including melliferous species, sowing of grasses, anti-erosion activities, etc.
  • Financial aid, such as that coming from Measure 10 Agroecology and climate” and Measure 12 “Payments on “Natura 2000” and the Water Framework Directive” of the 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme through which farmers receive yearly compensation payments for habitat maintenance.

Project LIFE16NATBG000856 maintains and aids in the conservation of four of the rarest and most vulnerable habitat types in Bulgaria and Europe:

Lowland hay meadows

Semi-natural Dry Grasslands and Scrubland Facies: on Calcareous Substrates

Tilio-Acerion forests of slopes, screes and ravines

Endemic forests with Juniperus spp.