The Bulgarian government “closed the Environment page” on July 1st 2002. But even if the harmonization of our nature conservation legislation with the European one is already a fact, no mechanisms for effective nature conservation policy and management have been developed yet. The process of elaborating national, regional strategic and policy documents has only just begun. There are neither capacities nor resources secured for this process.
Since its very establishment, Green Balkans has aimed at influencing both the executive and legislative authorities for speeding up the reforms in the Bulgarian nature conservation policies.
To achieve that, 14 projects supported by international donors and the voluntary efforts of experts of the society have been carried out for the past ten years.
All these activities resulted in the preparation of 26 political documents of international, national and regional significance aiming at developing the Bulgarian nature conservation policy and management in the period 1994-2003. These have directly influenced eight governmental sector policies and supported the preparation of four important strategic documents and several documents of regional significance. The documents prepared by Green Balkans have had the strongest effect in the following fields:
- fulfilling the international commitments of our country in the field of biological and landscape diversity conservation (international conventions, agreements and contracts);
- increasing the coverage of the network of protected natural areas;
- reducing the threats to plain and riparian forests;
- elaborating the documents for national and local nature conservation management and sustainable use of the natural resources.
Most important results
Here is a chronological list of the more significant documents of national and international importance.
• Participation in the development of a National Biodiversity Conservation Strategy. 17 experts of Green Balkans prepared a report, published in the main volumes of the Strategy (1994, National Biodiversity Conservation Strategy. Main reports. Volume 2).
• Concept report on the draft of the bill on biodiversity conservation. The concept was supported by 12 NGOs (1998, Biodiversity Conservation Act – NGO concept);
• Concept report on “Guidelines for the preparation of a National Action Plan for Biodiversity Conservation”. The report was designed for the governmental team preparing the National Plan.
• Strategy for conservation and restoration of the flood-plain forests on the Bulgarian Danube Islands. This is a national political document prepared under the guidance of WWF – Auen Institut – Germany, with the participation of experts of WWF-DCP, Green Balkans, and the National Forest Board.
• Problems of the management and development resulting from the imperfections of the legislative and normative base in the field of landscape and biological diversity and natural resources. The report was ordered by the Bulgarian office of UNDP in relation to the implementation of a GEF project for the Western and Eastern Rhodope Mountains.
• Assessment of the Bulgarian nature conservation policy in the context of the country’s accession in the European Union. The report represents an assessment of the 10-year governmental nature conservation policy; it has been designed for the Bulgarian government and the Parliament. Short version of that report was published in the Ost-West-Gegeninformationen Magazine.
- Green Balkans, CEEWEB, and the Lithuanian Fund for Nature completed an international project aimed at supporting the governmental nature conservation policies. Critical assessments and reports for 10 East European countries, including Bulgaria, were published in the following directions:
- assessment of the implementation of the international commitments (international conventions and agreements in the field of biodiversity);
- assessment of the implementation of the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy;
- assessment of the activities and policies related to the biological diversity within the National Development Plans.
The analysis and assessments were put to international public discussions involving NGO experts from 10 East European countries. Thus, the Declaration for the development of policies in the field of biodiversity was approved, targeting the international forum “Environment for Europe”, Kiev, 2003.
Green Balkans, in partnership with various municipalities, develops municipal programs and Action Plans for biodiversity and landscape conservation. These programs are an important tool for local authorities to apply to the EU funds and programs.
Green Balkans’ related activities are supported by: EU PHARE Program, USAID through the Institute for Sustainable Communities of the Democracy Network Program in Bulgaria, Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe, GEF/UNDP, etc.