Evros Delta is an important wetland with big value for wildlife and humanity, on a national, European and international level. In Evros Delta hundreds of thousands of birds find shelter and food all year round.
In the southeastern part of Evros prefecture, next to the border with Turkey, Evros River creates an extensive delta of international ecological importance with a total surface area of 188 km². Its springs lie on the mountains of Rila in Bulgaria, south of Sofia. It is the second biggest river in Eastern Europe with a total length of 528 km and is characterized by the large amount of sediment that it transfers and deposits on its delta.
The climate of the Evros Delta area is Mediterranean although it is affected by continental climate conditions. The winter is severe and early or late frosts are often observed. Evros Delta constitutes one of the most important wetlands, not only in Greece but also in Europe. A surface area of 9.500 ha (8.000 ha of land and 1.500 ha of water) has been included in the list of protected wetlands of the International Ramsar Convention (1971), because it hosts important bird species.
In Evros Delta 7 basic unities of biotopes can be distinguished:
- Riverine vegetation
- Wet meadows with Juncus
- Submerged vegetation of salt or brackish waters
- Lagoon and fresh water vegetation
- Halophytic vegetation
- Vegetation of sandy islets
The vegetation in Evros Delta is not affected directly by the climate, but mainly by factors that concern the soil (composition, water content, salinity). The type of vegetation is the same as the one in the whole of North Aegean shores. The flora of Evros Delta has 300 species, some of them rare.
Very important is the value of the birds and especially for wintering birds and those that use the area as a migration station. Particularly important is the presence of amphibians, reptiles, mammals and fish. They have been recorded a total of 28 species of amphibians and reptiles, more than 40 species of mammals and 46 species of fish.
Rare bird species in Evros Delta
Evros Delta is one of the most important areas in Greece and Europe for the survival of many species, some of which are rare or threatened. It is the most important place in Greece for the three species of European Swans (Mute, Whooper and Bewick’s). So it is also for Geese. Significant numbers of rare species of raptors are seen especially in winter. Spotted Eagles, Imperial Eagles and White-tailed Eagles are observed daily. Other important species that are observed in Evros Delta are the Dalmatian Pelican, the Pygmy Cormorant, the Bittern, the Ferruginous Duck, the Red Kite, the Spoonbill, the Glossy Ibis, the Collared Pratincole.
Except for birds, the presence of amphibians, reptiles, mammals and fish is very important in Evros Delta. In the River and the adjustent area, 46 species of fish have been recorded.
Amphibians – Reptiles
Seven species of amphibians and 21 species of reptiles have been recorded in Evros Delta. In wet places and in the water, we meet two species of frog (Rana ridibunda and Rana dalmatina). It is believed that amphibians have decreased all over Greece and Europe, because of habitat loss (drainage), pollution and pesticides. The reptiles are observed in land and in water.
At least 40 species of mammals live in Evros Delta. In fresh water canals the Otter (Lutra lutra) is observed. In the wider area of the wetland the Wildcat (Felis silvestris), the Fox (Vulpes vulpes), the Marten (Martes foina), the Weasel (Mustela nivialis) and the Badger (Meles meles) live.