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Iron Curtain turns Green Belt in the Balkans

Iron Curtain turns Green Belt in the Balkans
Oct. 27, 2008
Participants visited a very positive example of transboundary cooperation in nature conservation and regional development in the Belasitsa trilateral border area between Bulgaria, Greece and F.Y.R. Macedonia. During the Belasitsa International Forum hosted by the local municipality of Petrich, the partners from Kerkini National Park (Greece), Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation and the NGO Planetum (Strumica, F.Y.R. Macedonia) presented their joint efforts in this trilateral border area and celebrated the newest Nature Park in Bulgaria – Belasitsa Nature Park proclaimed November 2007. A folk group from Samuilovo village in the foothills of Belasitsa mountains presented folk dance and vocal singing as a part of the rich cultural heritage in the region.

The European Green Belt initiative has the vision to create the backbone of an ecological network, running from the Barents to the Black Sea that is a global symbol for transboundary cooperation in nature conservation and sustainable development. 23 countries across Europe are adjoining the course of the former Iron Curtain along some 12.500 km, cooperating to preserve the natural heritage of the Cold War times. The route of the Green Belt is divided into three regional sections. One of them is the South Eastern European section, including border sections of Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, F.Y.R. Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro.

Since the start of the initiative in 2003, several meetings on regional and pan-European level have helped to implement its goals and to exchange experiences within its network. The meeting was organized by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), the implementing partner, the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation BBF, in partnership with the Bulgarian Ministry of Environment and Water, and with the financialesupport of the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN).