Most of the problems related to biodiversity and environment protection are caused by short-sighted management and over-exploitation of natural resources.
The increasing population and the ever changing lifestyle of people, result in a growing need for natural resources. The anthropogenic pressure on nature increases at breakneck speed and threatens the existence of numerous habitats and species. Therefore, part of our work is aimed at managing natural resources at sustainable rate, preventing short-sighted policies, examining and preventing violations, related to natural resource use.
Destruction of Bulgarian forests
12 to 15% of the Bulgarian forest has been destroyed because of rapacious exploitation and mass felling resulting from the short-sighted governmental policy in the period 1992-2008. Bulgaria is one of the few countries in Central and Eastern Europe where forest areas decline at alarming rates. In some areas, such as river-beds, 80% of the forest areas have been destroyed for the past 15 years.
At the same time, the Bulgarian forest is one of our most significant natural resources, being an irreplaceable environment-forming factor and a treasury of biodiversity.
You can learn more about our work related to forest conservation as well as how you can help us HERE.
Over-exploitation of inert materials from the river-beds
The exploitation of inert materials in the river-beds of Maritsa, Tundja and other Bulgarian rivers has increased significantly for the past 10 years. The lack of control leads to excessive production, provoked by the striving for quick fortune, which results in multiple negative consequences, such as destruction of riparian habitats, extinction of species, subsidence of underground water, risks of flooding, destruction of buildings and roads.
Green Balkans has been working on a program for investigation of ecological damages caused by over-exploitation. The organization works on signals sent by citizens and investigates corruption practices and violations related to the extraction of inert materials. As a civic organization, we exert control over the work of institutions and raise alarms about revealed violations. Supported by the media, we aim at raising the awareness related to the problems and involving citizens in the efforts made for solving these problems.
Gold extraction under the cyanide using method
The use of cyanides for gold extraction is one of the most effective but also the most dangerous techniques for ore extraction. Cyanides are highly toxic components, water solvent, fatal for life even in small concentrations. Once released in the wild, they could cause fatal damages to nature and population in extensive areas. Therefore the use of cyanides has been forbidden in many countries such as Germany, Turkey, the Czech Republic, Honduras, Argentina, Costa Rica, Peru, the Philippines, Alaska, etc.
Green Balkans is a member of “Cyanide-free Bulgaria” Coalition, which involves 18 Bulgarian nature conservation organizations. The Coalition works for the adoption of a ban on the use of cyanides in the production of precious metals in Bulgaria.
Open-pit mining and extraction of inert materials
The open-pit production of some precious ores and minerals is a serious threat to biodiversity in areas of high natural value (Sakar, Eastern Rhodopes, the Balkan Mountains and the Sredna Gora Mountains). Often, open quarries are built in sites of unique biodiversity. They not only irreversibly destroy the habitats of rare species but also damage the landscape.
There are also direct consequences for people, such as air and water pollution, noise, dust, etc. The chances for development of tourism and other sustainable practices, based on the natural resources of the area, are destroyed as well.
Green Balkans’ work in this area of activity is related to prevention of the construction of such open pits in regions of rich biodiversity and unique landscape, where these facilities threaten people’s health and the sustainable regional development. The requirement for re-cultivation of the areas damaged by radioactive and heavy metals and re-agents is part of the Organization’s campaign for sustainable use of resources.
Uncontrolled construction of wind turbines
These are an alternative and environmentally friendly source of energy from wind, and the State has undertaken the commitment to produce a certain percentage of the entire energy production under an “ecological” method, as well as to buy the so produced energy.
In Bulgaria, the most attractive sites for the construction of wind turbines are located along the Black Sea coast and in areas located along the biggest migration routes in Europe (Via Pontica). The construction of tens of wind turbines along birds’ migration routes turns these facilities into murderers – tens of birds of species that are rare or threatened with extinction fall victims to this source of energy.
Although wind energy plants represent an attractive business and Bulgaria has undertaken the commitment to encourage this type of production, the State has to exert strict control over the issuing of permits and Environmental Impact Assessments, taking into consideration the unique diversity of birds and their migration across Bulgaria.
Green Balkans’ activity aims at:
- implementing studies in areas envisaged for the construction of wind turbines, in order to guarantee that this will not pose any threats to bats and bird migration;
- preventing the construction of wind turbines in areas of intensive migration or in habitats of critical importance for particular species, such as the Imperial Eagle.
Uncontrolled construction of micro Water Power Plants (micro WPP)
It is a well-known fact that WPP and micro WPP represent an alternative source of “ecological” energy produced by water. However, the construction of micro WPP on alpine rivers and tributaries of changeable high-water is uncontrollable. Often, this results in their total or periodical drying-up and deteriorated ecological equilibrium throughout the region. Often, the so-called “fish passages” of the micro WPP are designed in a way that impedes fish from passing, which results in their extinction in the upper reaches of the water course. At the same time, the concrete thresholds and the metal pipes of the WPPs deface the landscape of the most picturesque parts of Bulgaria’s mountains.
For local people this means shortage of water resources and reduced possibilities for development of tourism. For nature this means extinction of animal and plant species inhabiting the rivers, as well as serious deterioration of river habitats.
At the same time, WPPs represent a profitable and high-return investment due to the commitment undertaken by the State – namely, to produce and buy energy from renewable sources.
However, there are no clear regulations, statutory criteria, and standards of water-power engineering. Thus, this noble idea is turned into a threat to nature.
Our work against the uncontrolled construction of micro WPPs aims at establishing clear rules, regulations, and control related to the construction of these facilities only in areas, where there will be no lasting and irreversible ecological consequences.