Sand dune - Country Report, Bulgaria

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This article on the sand dunes of Croatia, Montenegro and Albania, is a revised country report from the 'Sand Dune Inventory of Europe' (Doody ed. 1991) [1]. The 1991 inventory was prepared under the umbrella of the European Union for Dune Conservation [EUDC]. The original inventory was presented to the European Coastal Conservation Conference, held in the Netherlands in November 1991. It attempted to provide a description of the sand dune vegetation, sites and conservation issues throughout Europe including Scandinavia, the Atlantic coast and in the Mediterranean.

An overview article on the distribution of European sand dunes provides links to the other European country reports. These represent chapters from updated individual country reports included in the revised, 2nd Edition of the 'Sand Dune Inventory of Europe' prepared for the International Sand Dune Conference “Changing Perspectives in Coastal Dune Management”, held from the 31st March - 3rd April 2008, in Liverpool, UK (Doody ed. 2008)[2].

Original Authors: Tenyo Meshinev, Mira Mileva, Geko Spiridonov, Pavel Vassilev & Robert Tekke


The Bulgarian Black Sea coastline has a length of 380 km. The sand dunes and beaches occupy 34% of the coastal strip with a total area of 1,600 ha. In some places, the sandy coasts alternate with cliffs and rocky shores, especially in the north.


There are four large sand dune areas (over 50 ha) and seven large sand strips which occupy over 80% of the entire sandy coastline of Bulgaria. The three largest sand dune areas are located, in the region of the Kamchiya biosphere reserve between Kamchiya and Skorpilovtsi, near the town of Nessebur between Sozopol and the Ropotamo National Park, and finally in the vicinity of Primorsko, respectively. The dunes in Ropotamo National Park were formed on low hills covered by sand 1 to 10 metres deep.


There is a great variety in the vegetation on the coastal dunes of Bulgaria. A number of plant communities are formed on the sand dunes and sandstrips depending on the presence of mobile sand, the degree of plant growth, competition between species and age of the dunes:

Strandline and foredune

The dominant species in this part of the dunes are Eryngium maritimum and Cakile maritima, while Euphorbia paralias, Euphorbia peplis and Stachys maritima are rarer. Salsola ruthenica is also present with Cakile maritima and to a lesser extent with Polygonum maritimum, P. mesembricum, Xantium italicum, etc. On soils that are more humid, there are open communities where Elymus farctus, Eryngium maritimum, Lactura tatarica etc. are present;

Yellow dune

Here perennial species dominate such Ammophila arenaria, Leymus racemosus ssp. sabulosus, Elymus farctus, Cionura erecta, Artemisia campestris, Artemisia lerchiniana. In the flatter and lower lying areas species like Silene thymifolia, Centaurea arenaria, Galilea mucronata, Festuca vaginata, Peucedanum arenarium, Carex colchica, Lepidotrichum uechtritzianum, Lurinea albicaulis and Astralagus onobrychis become more important. On the older, more stabilized dunes, with a denser vegetation structure, communities of Tamarix ramosissima and T. tetrandra occur;

Dune slack

In the low areas among the sand dunes where there is a high level of underground water, plant communities with Phragmites australis, Schoenus nigricans, Juncus nigricans, Juncus maritimus, Juncus littoralis, Agrostis stolonifera occur. In these communities Holoschoenus vulgaris, Calamagrostis epigeios and Carex extensa are common. In some places, Erhianthus ravennae can also be found;

Dune grassland

Typical species for the dune grasslands along the Black Sea coast are Chrysopogon gryllus, Poa bulbosa, Bromus tectorum, Cynodon dactylon and Teucrium polium;


Some examples of species, which occur in the dune woodlands of Bulgaria, are Carpinus orientalis, Tilia tomentosa and Quercus cerris in the region of the Ropotamo Park and Q. pedunculiflora in the region of the Kamchiya reserve. In the forest, undergrowth species like Crategus monogyna can be found. In the hollows between the wooded ridges Ulmus minor, Fraxinus oxycarpa and Celtis australis prevail. In the Bulgarian dunes there are number of rare and threatened plants like Blackstonia perfoliata, Centaurea arenaria, Verbascum glanduligerum (endemic for the Balkan peninsula), Pancratium maritimum and Trachomitum venetum amongst others.

Further information:

Dunes under threat: an inventory of the dunes of Bulgaria By Margarita Stancheva, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Sand Dune and Shingle Network, Tenth Newsletter, December 2010.
  1. Doody, J.P., ed., 1991. Sand Dune Inventory of Europe. Peterborough, Joint Nature Conservation Committee/European Union for Coastal Conservation.
  2. Doody, J.P., ed. 2008. Sand Dune Inventory of Europe, 2nd Edition. National Coastal Consultants and EUCC - The Coastal Union, in association with the IGU Coastal Commission.