Belene Island

Knowledge Site

Habitat Type



The island of Belene is the largest island in Bulgarian waters, formed by two branches of the Danube that split to pass the island in the north and the south. In the 1950s, Belene Island was surrounded by dikes and the wetlands were drained. 50 years later, the dikes were reopened and the Danube flooded the island again, creating a wetland that is home to hundreds of rare birds including Dalmatian pelicans, Ferruginous duck, Pygmy cormorants, terns and herons. This large-scale restoration project was part of Bulgaria’s commitment to the Lower Danube Green Corridor. Belene Island was one of multiple pilot sites restored under the Wetlands Restoration and Pollution Reduction project financed by GEF / World Bank. The project was executed by the Bulgarian Ministry of Environment and Waters in 2001 and was successfully completed in 2008. Reconnecting former floodplain forests and wetlands with the river has provided opportunities for fishing and economic benefits from grasslands and wetland resources with additional ecological benefit to the riverine floodplain forest. This pilot project was the first of its kind in Bulgaria. Belene Island is a part of Persina Natural Park, home to over 170 species of rare water birds.

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