photo: Teodor Kuduschiev @unsplash / Rila 

Is the environment and natural resources of our country a priority? Many would probably think that this is a rhetorical question. If we pay attention to the theory, we will see that the state has taken all measures to conserve and conserve nature, the competent authorities are working in harmony with European legislation, Bulgaria's natural heritage is, so to speak, in safe hands.


In Bulgaria about 34% of the territory of the country are "protected areas" and about 5,5% - "protected areas". The difference in these two categories is that the creation of the protected territories is regulated by a special law "Protected Areas Act" (SG 133 1998).


"Protected areas" is a term introduced by the "Biodiversity Act". "Protected areas" are referred to as sites of the "National Ecological Network", which is actually "NATURA 2000" in Bulgaria. Natura 2000 is a pan-European network of protected areas. The areas are defined on the basis of scientific criteria, and the strategy seeks to protect Europe's most valuable and endangered species and habitats in accordance with major international biodiversity arrangements.

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There are two directives that are essential for the protection of the environment and according to which Natura 2000 functions: the European Union Directives - the '92 / 43 / EEC Directive', for the protection of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (hereinafter referred to as' The Habitats Directive ') and the' 2009 / 147 / EU Directive ', for the conservation of wild birds (also called the' Birds Directive '). Both Directives have been implemented in Bulgarian legislation through the Biodiversity Act (BDA).


Protected areas are a category of protected areas in Bulgaria with a total area of ​​79 304,4 ha. These are considered reserves, national and nature parks. These include forests, land and water areas that are home to endangered and rare species of animals, plants and biocenoses (a population of plants, animals and micro-organisms - the living part of the ecosystem). Our country is rich in natural resources and has 3 national parks, 11 nature parks, 564 protected areas and 55 reserves on its territory. The first reserve in Bulgaria was declared in 1931 and is located in Strandzha - Silkosia. Other 16 have been declared biosphere reserves by UNESCO after 1970.


All these protected areas and reserves manage to survive precisely because of the various conservation mechanisms, laws and regulations at state and national levels, management plans, and more. However, it is important to note that European legislation rarely implies direct prohibitions or restrictions. These may eventually be introduced in the orders and management plans of individual zones, after approval of the relevant law. In Bulgaria, there are 48 approved and approved protected area management plans (PAs) and various laws, in accordance with the European environmental protection frameworks such as the Biodiversity Act (BDA) of 2002 and others.


The paradox is the fact that the practice in our country shows extremely high levels of disinterest in the natural resources of our country, regardless of the above laws and directives. Let's look at some of the most famous examples of gross misconduct and harassment with our nature from the last 2-3 years:

photo: @ryantula - unsplash

Mountains and forests


According to data from the “Analysis of Illegal Logging in Bulgaria for the 2006 - 2013 Year”, by the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) NGO, illegal logging in Bulgaria reaches 1 / 3 from the total logging in the country.


There are also many cases where logging takes place in nature parks and protected areas. This is the example from 2016 of a year's logging in a triple protected area in the Gabrovo watershed, which is still in Natura 2000 and within the boundaries of the Bulgarka Nature Park. The area is very beautiful, with preserved landscape and habitats for centuries and is one of the most preferred tourist destinations in the area. From there, the road to the Uzana area - a favorite hiking destination and one of the few ski resorts in the Stara Planina Mountain - runs.


Only since the beginning of this year, illegal logging has been reported in Dobrich, Chepelarska, Shumen, Varna, Sevlievo, Rozino, Vratsa. However, the reported cases are far from isolated - the gray economy amounts to nearly BGN 150 million a year. In theory, logging is a strictly regulated and restricted activity with penalties and penalties provided for by law. In practice, we observe their complete neglect, both by offenders and by the managing national or local authorities responsible for regulation.


The Black Sea


The Bulgarian Black Sea coast, with its coastline of 354 km., Offers an extremely diverse flora, fauna and geographical relief: sandy beaches and dunes, salt and freshwater lakes, rocky shores and more. This diversity is, of course, too attractive for investors in the tourism sector and therefore dangerous for the conservation of nature in the area.


There are dozens of cases of unregulated actions on the Black Sea coast - from the destruction of beach dunes to illegal construction: the case of 2018, related to unregulated activities on the Dolphin beach, located in Strandja Nature Park, systematically permitted by the management of Tsarevo; the plan to build Coral Beach after the SAC rejected a complaint against the construction of a Coral Beach hotel complex in January this year; the dubious construction activities of Arapya Beach, Aleppo, Garden Camp; the attempt to rent the beach "Lipa", and the most recent is the case of 21 July 2019 with "Listi beach". The new reality show will be filmed at Listy Beach (located at Strandja Nature Park and Natura 2000), which is why the narrow path leading to the beach is torn by heavy machinery, trees are uprooted and beaches are not cut allow. From the broadcast they claim to have permits from all competent institutions.


Rivers, lakes, dams


The situation with freshwater water sources in Bulgaria is no different: the findings of March 2019, for the systematic drainage of Lake Shabla; unregulated tourist flow to the Seven Rila Lakes; illegal excavation near the mouth of the Kamchia River since July 2019; the illegal landfill off the Iskar River, which was discovered in February, is just one of the examples of violations we can give in this area.


Where does the divergence of practice and theory occur? How and why did these two concepts, which should be synchronous, become antonyms? Where are we as a society to protect our country? The last question is again a paradox, because it turns out that we must defend nature from the state. The widespread and simultaneous spread of the so-called. "Small" and "big" corruption leads to the results we have. The merger of the "gray" sector with the administration speaks of a strong state "mafia", and the negligence of us citizens as a corrective can even be called complicity.


The effective maintenance and preservation of the environment depends directly on the conscience of those responsible for the activity and on the recognition of the urgent need to make the environment a priority for each country. Active civil society is the only opportunity for control and positive change. Unfortunately, in Bulgaria it is still a baby, but Bulgaria is eagerly awaiting its first steps. Let's stop blocking his path with fear, disinterest and indifference!

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