Capacity development should be integral to the reforms in nature conservation policy. Unfortunately, Bulgaria is seriously lagging behind because of the inadequate governmental assessment of the significance of biodiversity.
Green Balkans’ activities for developing the national capacities in the field of biodiversity conservation have various scopes and target groups. The Organization uses diverse approaches, such as thematic training and courses, printing and dissemination of publications, developing new educational programs in Higher Schools, etc.
Our work in this area of activity covers the following groups:
Politicians and responsible authorities in the field of nature conservation and natural resources management
To address the needs of this group a sequence of actions for developing the nature conservation policies and legislation have been implemented. These include publishing specialized publications and organizing meetings and presentations. The publications are devoted to issues such as policies for nature conservation and biodiversity management, international conventions and EU directives, Bulgarian nature conservation legislation, etc. Nine author publications and eight translated articles have been published so far. All publications have been welcomed with great interest and most of them have been re-printed.
Regional state institutions and authorities
This group comprises the Regional Inspectorates of Environment and Waters, Regional Forest Boards, Regional Forestry Departments and State Game-Breeding Stations, National and Natural Park Directorates, the Bulgarian Hunters and Anglers’ Union, etc. Green Balkans carries out trainings and seminars for state officials focused on international nature conservation legislation, biodiversity management policies, NATURA 2000 establishment and management, sustainable forest management, financing of activities for nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources, etc.
Municipal and district officials, responsible for environment protection and natural resources management
Green Balkans pays a great deal of attention to this particular group. A special inquiry in 40 municipalities in Southern Bulgaria, financed by UNDP/GEF was completed for assessing the needs of the group. Specialized training programs for municipal officials and municipal ecologists were developed on the basis of the results of the inquiry. Several courses involving 100 people were also carried out with the financial aid of the EU PHARE program. The program of the courses covered the following issues:
- introduction to the international and national tools for conservation and management (international and Bulgarian nature conservation legislation, National Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Plans);
- applied conservation management – development of management plans for protected natural sites, species and habitats management;
- inter-sector cooperation and partnership, fundraising, etc.
University biology and ecology students
In 1995 as a result of a Green Balkans’ initiative, for the first time in Bulgaria the University of Plovdiv introduced a specialized discipline including knowledge in nature conservation legislation and conservation management. The discipline was part of the Ecology course and was taught by experts of Green Balkans. In 2002, again resulting from a Green Balkans’ initiative, a curriculum for a specialized Master’s course in Biodiversity Conservation was developed. The curriculum was provided to the Plovdiv University and the Agrarian University.
The education of youth and students is an important part of the activities of Green Balkans as well. These activities are presented in the Youth Activities section.