I am sure some of you forum members are already aware that Bulgaria is blessed with an amazingly rich flora and fauna, and is one of the most important countries in Europe in terms of its biodiversity, being the meeting place for Central European, Mediterranean, Carpathian, Pontic and Asiatic species. Its coastline is one of the main European migration routes for birds, and has been known since ancient as the "Via Pontica".
What I am not sure of, is how many forum members are aware that many of the most important protected territories and Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Bulgaria have in recent months become critically threatened. I am talking about sites of global importance that have been internationally recognised and monitored for years.
With the accession of Bulgaria to the EU this January, the Bulgarian government had to sign up to all relevant EU legislation, including bird and habitat directives. In particular it had to designate NATURA 2000 sites for inclusion in this network. Not only did the Bulgarian government delay this process, they continue to do so and for a very simple reason, to allow developers the chance to destroy protected areas and potential NATURA 2000 sites before a decision about their designation is taken!
BlueLink Information Network
The final decision about many of the most important wildlife sites in the country has been delayed until October 2007, but meanwhile construction work continues within them, and local authorites still grant planning permission for new resorts, villa settlements, hotels, appartment complexes, golf courses and ski resorts on the contested land . Finally, come October, even if the Bulgarian government do finally decide to designate some of these sites to be included within the NATURA 2000 network, there may in reality be little left worth protecting.
Such is the scale and seriousness of the threat, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have become actively involved in the campaign to save Bulgarian nature:
WWF - Bulgaria Protected Areas campaign
WWF - Bulgarian government slashes Natura 2000 areas for ‘investors’
And French MEP Catherine Guy-Quint has made a scathing criticism about what is happening:
BNR Radio Bulgaria Science and nature
Thank you all for reading. I thought it was important for forum members to be aware of the battle going on in Bulgaria between bulldozers and biodiversity. Unfortunately, it is almost certainly the bulldozers that will win. Not because they are stronger, but because they have the money, the authorities and the mafia behind them!