WWF-Mondi partnership boosts the protection of critical Bulgarian forests
Since early 2014, WWF-Bulgaria, with support from the WWF Mondi Partnership, has surveyed forests in the south-central part of the country covering an area of 150,000 hectares. This area, which constitutes almost five per cent of the country’s forests, consists of extremely diverse forests of lowland and mountain areas. It's home to endemic flora such as Galium rhodopeum, Lathraea rhodopаea and Fritillaria stribrnyi – all endangered and included in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria – and fauna such as the brown bear, European otter, black stork and grey-headed woodpecker.
HCV forests have especially high ecological and social value. They are rich in biodiversity, offer many ecosystem services and are economically and socially important for local people. The method used to identify HCV forest in Bulgaria is based on a National Toolkit for HCV forest identification developed in 2005 especially for Bulgaria by a working group of experts.
The process of identifying Bulgaria’s HCV forests also resulted in important discoveries, such as new localities of the rare Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva). This bird species, protected by the Bern Convention and the Bulgarian Biodiversity Act, breeds mainly in old growth forests and lives close to the water.
“To ensure the survival of these species, we have developed concrete measures reflecting good forest management practices. These measures will be implemented in the identified areas with immediate effect,” said Neli Doncheva, Forest Programme Coordinator at WWF- Bulgaria.
In addition to the surveys, WWF trained over 200 state foresters from eight forest management units in responsible forest management practices. The training covered a range of topics including: HCV forests identification; forest management and monitoring; Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, ‘close to nature’ silvicultural practices; and biological diversity in forests.
The HCV forest surveys, together with specialised forester training in responsible forest management, support WWF’s efforts in preparing the eight forestry units for FSC certification.
“We see FSC certification as the strongest tool for improving forest management practices and ensuring responsible use of Bulgarian forests and their resources while also considering the biodiversity in our forests,” Doncheva said.
“The FSC certification will have a positive effect over how we manage our forests. Based on what I learned from the WWF training, I think that the FSC system will help the most responsible companies and workers stay in the market,” said Marin Karadjov of State Forest Unit Klisura.
About the WWF-Mondi partnership
Mondi and WWF entered into a global partnership in 2014 building on the long standing WWF Mondi Wetlands Programme (MWP) in South Africa and a number of other WWF-Mondi initiatives including the WWF New Generation Plantations platform. The partnership focuses on minimising the impacts of Mondi’s operations on forests, climate and water and promoting environmental stewardship in the packaging and paper sectors.
The work programme covers three main areas:
- Ecosystem Stewardship - protecting high conservation value ecosystems and promoting sustainable forestry practices in Russia and other regions as well as increasing the value and resilience of production landscapes in South Africa.
- Manufacturing Stewardship - further reducing the water and climate footprint of Mondi’s operations and promoting resource efficiency, recycling and responsible use of forest products.
- Product Stewardship - further enhancing the environmental performance of Mondi’s products.