The Pomorie Municipality is trying to limit the conservation activities in Pomorie Lake
"For the Nature in Bulgaria" Coalition: this is yet another blow against civil society organizations
MAYOR OF POMORIE
DISTRICT GOVERNOR OF BURGAS
MINISTER OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER
MINISTER OF TOURISM
OMBUDSMAN OF THE REPUBLIC OF BULGARIA
The Coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations and Civic Groups "For the Nature in Bulgaria" announces on yet another attempt to curb conservation activities along the Black Sea coast. In the middle of the tourist season, the Pomorie Municipality gave the Green Balkans Federation a deadline to vacate the Pomorie Lake Visitor Center until the end of September, along with all educational and nature protection equipment.
As owners of the building, the Municipality refuses to extend the organization’s contract for use and thus to ensure the continuation of the long-term nature protection program in one of the most important wetlands in Bulgaria. In recent years, the Pomorie Municipality has prioritized other activities and has no expert capacity and experience to continue the environmental and educational work of the Center and this will certainly reduce the opportunities for activities for the conservation of the Pomorie Lake Protected Area.
The "For the Nature in Bulgaria" Coalition supports the long-term activities of Green Balkans for the protection of the "Pomorie Lake" Protected Area and the information activities related to the Visitor Center built by the Association. Information activities are a key part of wildlife conservation in Bulgaria, which Bulgarians consider an important part of their national wealth. We insist that the responsible institutions guarantee the continuation of the conservation functions of the Center. Our appeal to all citizens is to monitor whether this happens and report any violations of the nature protection regime in the Protected Area. Regardless of any of the explanations of the Pomorie Municipality how it will organize a tender procedure or a project for continuation of the activities, there is simply no way for the new organizations to have the experience, expertise and attitude of the people who have been working in the region for 25 years.
The Green Balkans nature conservation program for the protection of the Pomorie Lake has been carried out for 25 years and must continue. These are some of the achieved results:
1. Expert work of the Association for the preparation of the announcement of the “Pomorie” SCI;
2. Carrying out the largest scientific research in the region of the Pomorie salt pans;
3. Using the world's leading experience, for the building of artificial islands for the protection of rare bird species nesting in the lake. Monitoring and reporting illegal activities.
Results are clear – only 6 remaining nesting pairs of Sandwich Terns were observed on the lake in the nineties and the species was almost extinct in Bulgaria. Twenty-five years later, the numbers of the species on Pomorie Lake reached over 3,000 breeding pairs and the species was not only saved, but also reached optimal numbers, with the Pomorie Lake colony being the largest on the Balkan Peninsula. The conservation activities contributed to increasing the numbers of other rare and protected bird species such as the Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Common and Little Tern, etc., as well as increasing the total number of bird species - 271 species that inhabit the salt lagoon during different seasons.
4. In 2010, Green Balkans built a Visitor Center on the Pomorie Lake bank within a project initiated and implemented by Green Balkans and funded by the Global Environment Facility through the World Bank. The Pomorie Municipality provided free land for the construction of the "Pomorie Lake" Visitor Center in order to increase the conservation culture of local communities and to acquaint tourists with the natural attractions of the region. Over the years, Green Balkans has turned the Center into a conservation and educational institution with a modern exposition of biodiversity with a focus on ornithofauna, online video surveillance system, training microscope for invertebrate monitoring, video wall for popular movies, realistic models of protected species and a hall for presentations and public appearances, binoculars and field scopes for observation of waterfowl and most importantly competent information from experts. Since the construction of the Pomorie Lake Visitor Center, tens of thousands of people have become acquainted with the biological diversity of the lake.
5. Green Balkans managed to include the Pomorie Lake Visitor Center in the list of 100 National Tourist Sites.
6. The Green Balkans activities in the region received the international Blue Globe Award of the World Wetland Network (WWN) in 2012. With this advertisement Green Balkans help to diversify the tourist activities of the Municipality.
The "For the Nature in Bulgaria" Coalition is fully aware that as the de facto owner of the Center's building, the Pomorie Municipality has the right not to extend the contract with the Green Balkans NGO. At the same time, we express serious doubts that the Municipality has the expert capacity to manage the Visitor Center as well as Green Balkans has done so far, honor the donor's will and the idea behind the Center and continue the educational and information activities by the Pomorie Lake.
Besides the missed opportunities for educational and expert activities and contribution to the tourism in the region, the non-renewal of the contract shows the attitude of the Pomorie Municipality towards civil activity. The Green Balkans Association is an active civil society organization and regularly submits signals to the institutions for illegal activities in the Pomorie Lake area. This activities help protect this local piece of natural beauty on our Black Sea coast from poaching and construction. The lack of political support on the part of the Municipality for the Green Balkans work is an indicator that the appetites for the construction of the Pomorie Lake prevail. And the expulsion of the active civil organization that created the Center is one of the steps to ensure this happens.
The Nature Protection Coalition supports the petition for continuation of the information and nature protection activities of Green Balkans in the "Pomorie Lake" Visitor Center:
The "For the Nature in Bulgaria " Coalition is founded by the Bulgarian Association for Alternative Tourism, the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds, the Bulgarian Society of Phytocenology - 2001, the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation, Centre for Environmental information and Education, ND Ekoglasnost, "Agrolink" Association, BALKANI Wildlife Society, Za zemiata (“For the Earth”) Association, “Borrowed Nature” Association, "Green Balkans" NGO, “Nature Fund” Association, UNECO at Student Council of Sofia University "St. Cl. Ohridski ”, Shtastlivetza Sofia Civil Association, “Let’s Save Irakli” civil group, “Eco Rila” – Samokov Association and WWF Danube-Carpathian Program Bulgaria. Nowadays it includes nearly 30 organizations.