Responsible tourism in sight for Bulgarian protected area
“The founding members have embraced the initiative and are already deliberating on how to make their participation stronger”, said Maya Todorova of WWF in Ruse in northern Bulgaria. “Every member of the initiative made an engaging statement of why they want to be part of it. There were also suggestions of how to expand the club and of including new members”.
“We had the chance to study the economic benefits of Rusenski Lom Nature Park and analyze the threats behind losing these benefits”, Todorova said. “Our studies revealed a strong economic dimension to this protected area”.
The value of the protected area in terms of firewood, timber, herbs and fruits, animal feed, tourist revenues, flood protection and water quality has been estimated at around 230,000 EUR for 2012 alone. This amount does not include major benefits such as air quality, and the capacity of forests and meadows to absorb and retain carbon dioxide. The value of the latter was estimated at over 2 million EUR for 2011.
Members of the club will be able to offer promotional materials specifically developed for the initiative and use proceeds for maintanance of water and land routes in the park, conservation of protected habitats and species, as well as visitor information about how to minimize impact on nature.
“We will continue to be involved in the initiative and propose adjustments if necessary,” Todorova said.
Rusenski Lom Nature Park is located near the city of Ruse in the canyon-like relief of Rusenski Lom River, the last major right tributary of the Danube in Bulgaria. The park is situated on an area of 3408 ha and is sometimes called “a mountain in the plain”. It is known for its incredible diversity of orchids, birds, bats and butterflies. It is also famous for its rich cultural and historical heritage. The archeological reserve Ivanovo Rock Churches, declared a world heritage site by UNESCO, and the medieval fortified town of Cherven are located there.
The concept for the responsible tourism initiative was prepared as part of the project Promoting payments for ecosystem services and related sustainable financing schemes in the Danube basin. This project promotes and supports land managers who help us sustain the benefits that we all get from nature. The project is implemented by the WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme with the financial support of the GEF through UNEP and the European Commission.