Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds BirdLife Bulgaria

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds BirdLife Bulgaria

Plovdiv, Bulgaria
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Zakkak S.,University of Patras | Radovic A.,Czech University of Life Sciences | Nikolov S.C.,Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds BirdLife Bulgaria | Shumka S.,Agricultural University of Tirana | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Environmental Management | Year: 2015

Agricultural land abandonment is recognized as a major environmental threat in Europe, being particularly pronounced in south-eastern Europe, where knowledge on its effects is limited. Taking the Balkan Peninsula as a case study, we investigated agricultural abandonment impact on passerine communities at regional level. We set up a standard methodology for site selection (70 sites) and data collection, along a well-defined forest-encroachment gradient that reflects land abandonment in four countries: Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Greece. Regardless the different socio-economic and political histories in the Balkans that led to diverse land abandonment patterns in space and time, rural abandonment had a consistent negative effect on bird communities, while regional-level analysis revealed patterns that were hidden at local level. The general trends were an increase of forest-dwelling bird species at the expense of farmland birds, the decline of overall bird species richness, as well as the decline of Species of European Conservation Concern (SPECs) richness and abundance. Many farmland bird species declined with land abandonment, whereas few forest species benefited from the process. In conclusion, our results support CAP towards hampering rural land abandonment and preserving semi-open rural mosaics in remote upland areas, using a suite of management measures carefully tailored to local needs. The maintenance of traditional rural landscapes should be prioritized in the Balkans, through the timely identification of HNV farmland that is most prone to abandonment. We also suggest that coordinated transnational research is needed, for a better assessment of conservation options in remote rural landscapes at European scale, including the enhancement of wild grazers' populations as an alternative in areas where traditional land management is rather unlikely to be re-established. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


PubMed | Czech University of Life Sciences, Agricultural University of Tirana, Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds BirdLife Bulgaria, University of Aegean and University of Patras
Type: | Journal: Journal of environmental management | Year: 2015

Agricultural land abandonment is recognized as a major environmental threat in Europe, being particularly pronounced in south-eastern Europe, where knowledge on its effects is limited. Taking the Balkan Peninsula as a case study, we investigated agricultural abandonment impact on passerine communities at regional level. We set up a standard methodology for site selection (70 sites) and data collection, along a well-defined forest-encroachment gradient that reflects land abandonment in four countries: Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Greece. Regardless the different socio-economic and political histories in the Balkans that led to diverse land abandonment patterns in space and time, rural abandonment had a consistent negative effect on bird communities, while regional-level analysis revealed patterns that were hidden at local level. The general trends were an increase of forest-dwelling bird species at the expense of farmland birds, the decline of overall bird species richness, as well as the decline of Species of European Conservation Concern (SPECs) richness and abundance. Many farmland bird species declined with land abandonment, whereas few forest species benefited from the process. In conclusion, our results support CAP towards hampering rural land abandonment and preserving semi-open rural mosaics in remote upland areas, using a suite of management measures carefully tailored to local needs. The maintenance of traditional rural landscapes should be prioritized in the Balkans, through the timely identification of HNV farmland that is most prone to abandonment. We also suggest that coordinated transnational research is needed, for a better assessment of conservation options in remote rural landscapes at European scale, including the enhancement of wild grazers populations as an alternative in areas where traditional land management is rather unlikely to be re-established.


Nikolov S.C.,Bulgarian Academy of Science | Demerdzhiev D.A.,Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds BirdLife Bulgaria | Popgeorgiev G.S.,Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds BirdLife Bulgaria | Plachiyski D.G.,Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds BirdLife Bulgaria
Animal Biodiversity and Conservation | Year: 2011

Shrubs are widely considered a threat to grassland biodiversity. We investigated the effects of shrub cover and grazing intensity on bird communities in sub-Mediterranean pastures in Bulgaria. The point-count method was used on 80 plots in open (< 10% shrub cover) and shrubby (approx. 20% cover) pastures under either intensive or extensive management (grazing intensity) from 2008 to 2009. We recorded a total of 1,956 observations of birds from 53 species. Main environmental gradients accounting for the bird community pattern were related to vegetation succession and land productivity. Bird species richness was higher in shrubby pastures than in open sites, while no effect was found in respect to total bird abundance. Bird species diversity (i.e. H'index) was highest in extensive shrubby pastures. Shrubland specialists were positively affected by shrub cover and extensive management of pastures while grassland and woodland specialists showed no significant response to these factors. We conclude that a small proportion of shrubs within pastures may be beneficial for farmland birds and sustainable management of pastures could be achieved by greater flexibility of national agri-environmental schemes. © 2011 Museu de Ciències Naturals.


Dobrev V.,Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds BirdLife Bulgaria | Popgeorgiev G.,Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds BirdLife Bulgaria | Plachiyski D.,Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds BirdLife Bulgaria
Acta Zoologica Bulgarica | Year: 2014

In Bulgaria, an EU member state since 2007, semi-natural grasslands are still widespread but their area has decreased significantly in the last decades mainly due to their turnover into arable lands. We examined the changes in the cover and configuration of grassland habitats resulting from the Common Agricultural Policy implementation on the territory of Besaparski Ridove Special Protection Area between 2006 and 2010. There was a significant increase in the cover of arable lands, vineyards and orchards, and loss of natural and semi-natural grasslands. The most substantial land cover changes were the increase of arable lands (av. 33 ha per 4.84 km2 sampling plot) and the loss of the natural grasslands (av. 30 ha per 4.84 km2 sampling plot). There were also significant shifts found in the grassland configuration in terms of increased landscape complexity. We make recommendations for implementation of appropriate Agrienvironmental schemes (AES) to avoid further loss of biodiversity and valuable grassland habitats within Natura 2000 in Bulgaria.

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