The Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) is the first nature conservation organization to be registered in Bulgaria after the fall of communism. It was founded on June 3, 1988 and in 2015 it celebrated its 27th anniversary.
For the birds
In the early years of its existence, the BSPB initiated the first actual practical actions for the conservation of nature. Due to the first supplementary feeding programmes for vultures the Griffon Vulture was saved from extinction in the country – its population in the wild increased from 4 to more than 70 pairs.
Another example is the construction of the first man-made nesting platforms for endangered water birds; this led to the conservation and increase in numbers of their populations. First steps were also taken for the conservation and support of other emblematic species such as the Imperial Eagle, the Egyptian Vulture, the Red-breasted Goose etc.
Several dozen protected areas were proposed for designation; one of them – Poda Protected Area, – was officially assigned for management to the BSPB. In 1994 the first conservation centres in Bulgaria were opened: Poda near the city of Burgas and Eastern Rhodopes near the town of Madzharovo.
For the sites
Together with such practical actions the BSPB introduced the most advanced methodologies in nature conservation on a global scale. Immediately after the foundation of the organization we started our systematic work for the creation of a network of Important Bird Areas – we collected data in order to identify the most valuable areas for the birds, as well as to establish their boundaries; to prevent destructive human activity on their territory; to designate a ‘protected’ status for as much of their area as possible, etc. All these actions later formed the basis for the creation of the national ecological network NATURA 2000; its development was among the obligations for Bulgaria after it joined the European Union. The BSPB was commissioned to identify the areas for birds within NATURA 2000.
For the legislation
In order for all our efforts to bring real results we had to integrate the respective requirements from the European directives in the national nature conservation legislation. Based on its previous experience and on the cooperation with BirdLife experts from other member states of the EU the BSPB could contribute greatly to the work of the state legislative bodies. Due to its considerable expert contribution to the development of the Protected Areas Act, the BSPB was officially invited by the Minister of the Environment to develop the framework for another key conservation regulation – the Biodiversity Act.
We should also include here the introduction of the Important Bird Areas system which served as a basis for the designation of Special Protected Areas for birds, for the development of plans for action for different species as well as for other important aspects of conservation.
For the people
With the full awareness that successful conservation is impossible without support from the general public, the BSPB put considerable and consistent efforts to create a situation where local communities could benefit from their preserved nature. Our organization set the basis of nature educational tourism in Bulgaria as an important tool for the achievement of this goal.
Our efforts have already brought results; the small miners’ town of Madzharovo is already being recognized as an attractive destination for bird-watching tourism; a number of family hotels, guest houses and other local enterprises benefit from the touristic activity in the area.
In recent years the BSPB introduced a highly innovative, modern approach to nature conservation in Bulgaria – we initiated and put into action mechanisms through which the existing state regulations can bring direct benefits for all nature-friendly businesses. The mechanisms include direct payments, subsidies and other functional elements of our national economy. Thus the BSPB helps for the development of a ‘sustainable conservation’ where every enterprise which avoids the destruction of nature receives a higher income and thus has an internal motivation for the conservation of nature.
The BSPB created the first national scheme for monitoring of biodiversity in the country and still implements it with the support of over 200 volunteers. With their help we organize the annual Midwinter Waterfowl Census, the Common Bird Monitoring, the Imperial Eagle Monitoring, the White Stork Census and other surveys and research activities which provide information for science-based nature conservation as well as for the development of policies for sustainable management of natural resources. The BSPB conceived and published one of the most significant monographs in Bulgarian ornithology – the first Atlas of Breeding Birds in Bulgaria which serves as a starting point for all future scientific and conservation activities aimed at wild birds. Over 35 000 people took active part in conservation activities organized by the BSPB over the years.