Advocacy and policies in favour of Bulgaria’s natural legacy
Pristine wild sites are a rarity already. The most valuable nature territories in Bulgaria are included in the Natura 2000 met work. Among them are the natural emblems of Bulgaria: Shabla Lake, Burgas Lakes, Sakar Mountain, Pirin Mountain, Srebarna Lake and many more. Thanks to these sites biodiversity conservation in Bulgaria is possible. We want them to remain preserved and unchanged for the future generations. We should care for and protect our natural heritage in the same way we care for and protect our cultural heritage.
Unfortunately, the protected areas in the Natura 2000 ecological network do not guarantee absolute protection. The threats come in the shape of investment plans. Wind generators, photovoltaic parks, quarries, resort complexes or other similar projects can change habitats dramatically; they destroy the beauty of the landscape and even kill birds directly. But how can we stop the construction of a pig farm on a pasture with a souslik colony that is a hunting ground for the imperial eagle? Or of a hotel on the shores of the lake where the red-breasted geese roost?
What do we do?
Together with other non-governmental organizations the BSPB aims to stop the destruction of valuable nature territories. We follow the investment plan statements and the procedures of environmental impact assessments and appropriate assessments. In case there is a plan or a decision that is not in agreement with the conservational goals for a site and does not guarantee the absence of significant impact on birds, we prepare reports, and in many cases complaints against the decrees. And at times we need to take the next step too – to go to court.
What have we achieved?
For the last three years the BSPB has taken part in more than 60 procedures for environmental risk assessment or compatibility assessment with the objectives of Natura 2000 areas. 43 complaints have been submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Water and we have participated in 24 lawsuits. Thanks to our efforts we were able to prevent the construction of wind-parks in Dobrudzha and near Atanassovsko Lake, solar parks and quarries near nests of imperial eagles, a pig farm on Topolchansko Pole near the town of Sliven, commercial construction near Shabla and Durankulak lakes, the construction of a dangerous power line on Sakar Mountain and many more.
Unfortunately, not all conservation matters can be solved on the national level. The BSPB has submitted three complaints to the European Commission regarding:
- the construction of wind turbines near Kaliakra;
- the lack of preventive care for Natura 2000 bird areas;
- and 3) the fact that not all important bird areas were declared protected areas.
Legislation and policies
In order to ensure that biodiversity conservation is integrated in the national legislation and policies the BSPB participates in the preparation of legal and strategic documentation.
We took part in the discussions of strategic documents such as the Biodiversity Act, the Forest Act, the management plans for river basins and the national action plan for renewable energy sources 2011–2020.
Thanks to the involvement of the BSPB and other organizations from the For the Nature Coalition the national plan set strict regulations for the realization of renewable energy projects in Natura 2000 areas, and in areas of importance for endangered species too. Wind turbine parks and solar parks are prohibited in all Natura 2000 areas. Wind turbine construction is prohibited in the geographical regions of Dobrudzha and Eastern Rhodope Mountains, as well as in a 6-kilometre radius around 26 Natura 2000 areas that are important for raptors, and in a 2-kilometre radius around 25 areas important for waterfowl conservation. The construction of hydro power plants is prohibited in areas important for the conservation of endangered species of fish. These apply to all new investment projects.