After 1989, there were significant political and economic changes in Bulgaria. The large-scale restitution of lands and forests, as well as the unleashed economic initiative had a negative impact on the Bulgarian nature. The reform in nature conservation legislation was far behind the reform in other sectors. This was the main reason for Green Balkans to adopt the support for the reform in nature conservation legislation as its main strategic goal in the beginning of 1991. Using the support of Rio ’92, Green Balkans started working in the following areas of activity related to nature conservation legislation:
- Popularizing and lobbying for ratification of the international conventions on biodiversity (CBD, Bern, CITES)
- Approximation of the national legislation and development of a new one corresponding to the international conventions and EU directives.
This program resulted in the implementation of five projects, nine national campaigns, and 26 workshops and press conferences. Eight specialized publications were released. Numerous articles and interviews were published in the media.
Most significant achievements:
Campaign for ratification of the Convention on Biological Diversity:
- Two political declarations were prepared and disseminated to the Bulgarian Parliament, the Government, as well as the delegates of the international forum “Environment for Europe” held in Sofia in 1995.
- Press conferences and meetings with MPs and governmental officials were also carried out.
The public pressure exerted by Green Balkans’ campaign accelerated considerably the ratification process. Thus, in 1996 the Convention on Biological Diversity was ratified by Bulgaria.
Protected Natural Areas Act. During the period 1996-97, Green Balkans developed a series of statements and reports, which were then submitted to the Parliament and the Government. 40 texts of the proposals made by Green Balkans were approved by the Bulgarian Parliament and integrated into the new Protected Natural Areas Act. The proposals were related to: nature park management; public participation; funding, etc. Three workshops and several press conferences were carried out. Nine publications and interviews in the media aimed at exerting influence on politicians.
Forest Act. Three expert discussions carried out in the period 1996-1997 resulted in the development of statements for the Forest Bill. 11 texts of those proposed by Green Balkans were adopted by the Parliament and became part of the new Forest Act. Green Balkans’ proposals were related to: management of forest habitats of high conservation value; protection of floodplain, riparian, and plain forests; organization of forest protection, etc. Several forums (national roundtable and two workshops) were also held, as well as a series of press conferences and interviews in the media.
Biological Diversity Act. Several statements prepared by Green Balkans’ experts, including more than 20 concrete texts, were made available to the Government. There was a broad scope of proposals, including: regulations for managing habitats of high conservation value, establishment of NATURA 2000 national network, revisions and amendments to the annexes of the Act (lists of species and habitats), public participation patterns, etc. In order to exert influence on politicians, these statements were presented at public forums and press conferences. Articles and interviews were published in the national media.
Since 2000, Green Balkans’ experts have been actively involved in the processes for amendment and approximation of nature conservation and resource legislation and the related statutory acts.
A total of more than 160 texts and articles proposed by Green Balkans have been included in the now valid statutory system related to forests, biodiversity, and environment.
As a result of this program, the publications released so far include three specialized editions, fine national reports, three articles in international publications, as well as more than 50 releases and interviews in the national media.
Green Balkans’ program entitled “Support for the reform in nature conservation legislation” was funded by various European and American donors such as EU PHARE-Democracy Program, Democracy Network in Bulgaria Program (funded by USAID according to the agreement with the Institute for Sustainable Communities), EU PHARE-ACCESS Program, and the Trust for Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe.