It’s always good to bring a story up to date and especially so when there’s good news. Here Dan Pullen our acting Head of International Biodiversity Policy revisits the threats to re-breasted geese on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria.

Today the European Court of Justice found the Government of Bulgaria in breach of the Birds and Habitats Directives for failing to fully designate and protect nature sites on the Black Sea coast on and around the Kaliakra Cape. Here's a blog from 2013 that sets the scene.

Red-breasted geese - Picture by Daniel Mitev

This area is internationally important as the destination for most of the world population of wintering red-breasted geese (an endangered species), which roost on lakes and the sea, and feed on nearby agricultural fields.  In the spring and autumn it can also host tens of thousands of migrating birds including white storks and pelicans on their journeys between Eastern Europe and Africa.

Unfortunately, Bulgarian authorities failed to designate some of the most important areas as a Special Protection Area.  They also consented hundreds of wind turbines, a golf course and hotel development with little regard for nature, which have damaged irreplaceable habitats and threaten the geese and migratory birds. The impacts do not just affect Bulgaria –the migratory birds breed in many countries in central and Eastern Europe, whilst impacts on red-breasted geese compromise EU projects to help this species. Read more about that here.

RSPB have been helping our Bulgarian partner, the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds, with this case for nearly 10 years. This result is a great credit to their tenacity, and also to the European Commission officials and lawyers who have taken the case through the court. 

Flocks over Kaliakra - picture BSPB.

This isn’t the end of the story. This judgement is a big milestone, which puts massive pressure on the Bulgarian government to make good the damage done to these sites and also to improve their national systems for consenting projects which might damage Natura 2000 sites.

This case, once again, shows the importance of the Nature Directives in making sure that our common European natural heritage is protected for all.  It also reinforces how important it is that the Directives are implemented and enforced properly.

We are continuing to campaign for the future of the EU Nature Directives – you can find out more here and see what you can do to add your voice to our campaign by contacting your MEP.