Directorate of “Blue Stones” Natural park started working on a project named “Restoration of the ground squirrel population as a key element in maintaining the favorable conservation status of priority grassland habitats and populations of birds of prey in the Natural Park Blue Stones” on Operational Programme “Environment 2007-2013, . “. The project is related to Priority 3: Preservation and restoration of biodiversity in Bulgaria. This became possible after the project proposal of the Directorate was approved, and naturally, after signing the contract on 31.07.2009
The project aims to restore (recolonize) the population of the European ground squirrel (Spermophilus citellus), as a prerequisite for maintaining the favorable conservation status of Natura 2000 grassland habitats as primary food for large raptors in the Natural Park “Blue Ridge”.Because of this, the main activities are: -
-to stop the degradation of pastures and to turn them into ones with favorable environmental conditions
-application of a scheme aimed to graze bare pastures of certain purposes
-recolonization of sousliks in selected target areas
- to support populations of birds of prey and to reduce the risk of colonization for the sousliks
- Construction of 2 summer cottages on the territory of “Lokvata” and “Karakyutyuk”
-Building of an Information Tourist Center on the territory of “Karandila”
-Construction of facilities for monitoring Souslick colonies.
The souslik is perhaps the biggest victim of the grasslands’ degradation. Souslik is one of these grasslands species which cannot live in tall grass, so the spots where their colonies are located should be regularly grazed, trampled by passing by animals or should be mowed. There are several other factors which also led to the reduction of sosusliks - change in the type of agriculture (intensification, creation of monocultures), direct chasing (as pests on agricultural crops).
Furthermore,souslik is a rare species and reducing its number has led to the disappearance of many birds of prey that it is a major source of food for.Not until the moment they manage to adapt to the changing environmental conditions will they stop being an easy target for the birds of prey and therefore the activities related with the predatory birds in this project mainly aim to protect the sousliks from these birds.The main cause for this problems is the human activity. So most of the project’s activities aim to take due informative and educational precautions, to raise public awareness for the problem and to ensure the sustainability of project results.
Project duration : 36 months
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