NATURA 2000 is a European network of protected areas aiming at securing the long-term conservation of the most valuable species and habitats of Community importance.
It has to be established in all EU Member States as one of the requirements for accession.
The establishment of the network aims at achieving a balance between the conservation of species and habitats and the benefit for people.
The establishment of the NATURA 2000 is based on two main EU agreements related to environment protection and biodiversity conservation. These are the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive. They include about 140 natural habitats and over 600 flora and fauna species, all recognized as significant for the European Community.
The main requirements of the two Directives are transposed into the Bulgarian legislation through the Biodiversity Act, adopted by the Parliament in August 2002. According to that law Bulgaria designates the so called “protected zones”, which are all part of the “national ecological network”. The protected zones are those sites of the country, which correspond to the requirements for presence of habitats or species, listed in the annexes of the Habitats and Birds Directives. The institution responsible for the establishment of the ecological network in Bulgaria is the Ministry of Environment and Waters.

Green Balkans is a leading non-governmental organization in the establishment of the NATURA 2000 European ecological network in Bulgaria.
The Organization is the main factor supporting the MoEW in the implementation of the commitments undertaken by the country for the establishment of the network.

Participation of Green Balkans in the establishment of NATURA 2000 network in Bulgaria
According to the Bulgarian Biodiversity Act the institution responsible for the establishment of the ecological network is the Ministry of Environment and Waters.
On October 10th, 2002 a project entitled “Conservation of species and habitats in Bulgaria – approximation to the EU”, financed by the DANCEE program of the Dutch Ministry of Environment, was launched to support the National Nature Protection Service of the Ministry of Environment and Waters in the establishment of the NATURA 2000 network in Bulgaria.
310 potential NATURA 2000 sites were identified in December 2004. Complete or partial information required for the NATURA 2000 Standard Data Forms was collected for 129 of these sites.
11 field experts in ornithology, malacology and ichthyology from Green Balkans, together with over 20 volunteers, studied and filled in the field and digital forms of 33 sites covering an overall area of 459 242 ha.
Green Balkans’ project “Establishment of the NATURA 2000 network of protected zones in Bulgaria”, funded by the Enterprise for Management of Environment Protection Activities /EMEPA/ naturally continued the work on the establishment of the European ecological network in Bulgaria.
The project aims at fulfilling the commitments of the Republic of Bulgaria related to the establishment of NATURA 2000 and the preparation of the documentation required by the European Commission on potential protected zones identified by our country as sites of Community importance.

Huge amount of field work (over 3,200 man-days), involving 100 experts, was carried out within that project in 2005 covering 244 potential protected zones.
Over 2000 man-days were invested in office work for filling in the NATURA 2000 Standard Data Forms and the preparation of map material. The borders of 130 of the potential NATURA 2000 protected zones were delineated, and the related ownership and land use patterns were also specified. In addition, assessment on the national coverage of 29 forest habitats was carried out.
The work under the project continued in 2006, as the entire documentation of the potential protected zones was submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Waters.
In general, as a result of the work done, a total of 225 zones covering 30% of the country’s territory were proposed for designation. The expert potential of the scientific institutions at the Bulgarian Academy of Science, various NGOs, universities, etc. was mobilized and involved in the activity. The efforts of more than 150 experts, who contributed over 8,000 man-days of field work was coordinated in the period 2003-2007. The team developed methodologies and implemented analyses of the national coverage of natural habitats and Natura 2000 target species populations. Financial resource amounting to $1.5 million BGN was managed successfully.

Information about NATURA 2000
The entire information collected on the protected zones – map of the NATURA 2000 sites in Bulgaria, data obtained from the field inventories, detailed maps, etc. can be found on our NATURA 2000 web-site at
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