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Jun 11, 2006

Nature conservation and stimulation of sustainable development in the border regions of Bulgaria

Short history
The opening of the borders between Eastern and Western Europe reveals that exactly the regions along the Iron Curtain have turned into especially valuable refuges for many threatened animal and plant species. In recognition of the uniqueness of these areas IUCN, the German Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) and German non-governmental organisations launch the European Green Belt Initiative. It should contribute to the conservation of valuable natural sites along the borders and should stimulate their connectivity in an ecological network. The Balkan states join the initiative in 1999 when the concept of the Balkan Green Belt is conceived. The border mountains of Bulgaria (West Stara planina, Kraishte, Osogovo, Vlahina, Maleshevska, Ograzhden, Belasitza, Slavyanka, Rhodope and Strandzha) represent key elements of the concept. Their conservation and sustainable development will contribute to the implementation of the largest conservation initiative in United Europe.

Our goal
In the long-term, we aim at the conservation of nature and the stimulation of sustainable development in the border regions of Bulgaria as contribution towards the implementation of the European Green Belt.

Our specific objectives are:
  • Ensuring broad institutional and public support for the conservation of nature in the border regions of Bulgaria – Green Belt will serve as a focal point of all efforts aiming at nature conservation and sustainable development in the border regions.
  • Conservation of wild nature and biological diversity – Green Belt will seek adequate solutions for the preservation of nature in the border regions. We will strive to arrive at consensus between the needs of nature conservation and the wishes of all stakeholders in order to achieve effective protection on both sides of the border. The establishment of large transboundary protected areas will be our main tool.
  • Establishment of models for the sustainable development of transboundary mountain regions – We will identify modes of economic development that harmonise with the conservation of local nature and we will evaluate their economic potential. We will stimulate the development of economic activities that do not harm ecosystems (organic farming, sustainable tourism, etc.) and preserve the beauty of the landscape.
What we do
In 2006 the Green Belt Initiative works on:
  • Making the Green Belt regions popular and ensuring the support of the general public for their conservation
  • Gathering of basic information on the biological diversity of the Green Belt regions
  • Establishing and coordinating the National Work Group on the Green Belt
  • Declaring Belasitza Mountain a Nature Park
  • Achieving consensus with respect to nature conservation and sustainable development in the regions of Osogovo and Kraishte
  • Initiating sustainable development projects in the Green Belt regions
What to expect
Within the next fife years we plan to achieve several main results:
  • Enhanced popularity of the border mountains and ensured support of the general public for their conservation
  • An international Declaration for the conservation of nature and the sustainable development of the Balkan Green Belt signed by the governments of the Balkan states
  • At least three transboundary protected areas established – West Stara Planina, Belasitza, Osogovo or other border mountains
  • Established local associations and product brands that foster the sustainable development of local communities
What is new
Green Belt will apply some innovative approaches towards the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. More specifically, we will contribute towards:
  • Establishment of the first transboundary protected areas between Bulgaria and neighbour states
  • Management of protected areas according to the principles of the Sevilla Strategy (1995) of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme
  • Ensuring broad public and political support through intensive communication and lobbying
  • Search of alternative management modes, including sources of funding, of the protected areas (e.g. through the establishment of local associations and sponsoring)
  • Application in practice of the concept of economic valuation of ecosystem services
Who funds us
The Green Belt is being funded by the Frankfurt Zoological Society and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. Our team will seek additional funding by applying before other donor programmes (PHARE, INTERREG, SAPARD, LEADER, GEF, DEFRA, etc.), as well as private foundations and sponsors.

How to help
Your support is a vital prerequisite for the success of the Green Belt Initiative. In order to help us you can:
  • Lobby in favour of achieving the goals of the initiative before national institutions and local authorities
  • Distribute information on the initiative among private friends and the media
  • Participate as volunteer in activities of the initiative
  • Sponsor activities and events of the initiative – we guarantee positive large-scale media coverage of everything we do
  • Donate funds to the initiative
Bank details of the BBF: BULBANK AD, branch Sveta Nedelya, BIC: BFTBBGSF, IBAN: BG70 BFTB 76301010425914, key word: Green Belt

Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation
75 Sredna gora St., Sofia 1303, Bulgaria
Telephone/Fax: (+359 2) 984 11 75

Project Manager
Boyan Rashev
Mobile: (+359) 888 295768
Alternative e-mail: