Protected zone "Ludogorie"
The area corresponds to that of the geographic region of Ludogorie but covers also parts of western Dobrudzha. It is located in North-eastern Bulgaria. It includes the territories of 14 municipalities in the districts of Ruse, Silistra and Razgrad.
The relief is plain-hilly with the typical forms of canyon-like dry riverbeds, loess surfaces and karst fields. Half of the area’s territory is occupied by broadleaved forests and the other half – by farmland with a small share of pastures. The forests are mixed – Tilia tomentosa combined with Carpinus betulus or Quercuscerris, at places with Quercus dalechampii, Acer campestre. Coppice forests prevail.
There are also big plots of artificial plantations of acacia Robinia pseudoacacia. The grass associations are xerothermal, dominated by Dichantium ischaemum, Poa bulbosa, Poa concinna, Chrysopogongryllus and ephemeral or meso-xerothermal species around the settlements.
The birds in the protected area
The SPA supports 115 bird species, mainly breeding ones, 31 of which are listed in the Red DataBook of Bulgaria. The area provides suitable habitats for 31 species, included in Annex 2 of the Biodiversity, which need special conservation measures, of which 29 are listed also in Annex I of the Birds Directive.
The SPA Ludogorie is one of the most important sites in the country on a European Union scale for the conservation of breeding there – Lesser Spotted Eagle. At least 25-30 LSE pairs breed within the SPA. Targeted studie according the LIFE12 NAT/BG/001218 project confirmed that the area is important migration and stop over site for the Lesser Spotted Eagle.
The SPA is also one of the most important sites in the country on a European Union scale for the conservation of a complex of other 8 species that breed there – Black Kite, Long-legged Buzzard, Ruddy Shelduck, Woodlark, Ortolan Bunting, Nightjar, Roller and the Lesser Grey Shrike.
Most of these species prefer borderline habitats between woodland and open areas or mosaic habitats. A lot of birds of prey also breed in Ludogorie in considerable numbers, using the forest and rocky dry river valleys for nesting and the grassland and arable land for feeding there.
Threats to the protected area
The SPA is sensitive to human activities causing disturbance to birds, especially to those which nests on the rocks–rock climbing, gliding, illegal treasure hunting, tourism activities during the breeding season, as well as poaching.
Intensive forestry activities in the vicinity of the breeding territories, as well asillegal cutting affect the quality and structure of forest habitats and disturb the birds during thebreeding season.
The dry grasslands are particularly vulnerable to fires both natural and artificial burning of pastures.
The intensive agriculture with use of pesticides, insecticides and even poisonhas direct negative impact on birds and their food base. Reduction in grazing following bysuccession, as well as conversion of pastures to arable lands causes loss of grassland habitats forthe birds.