WWF Conservation Directors urge Bulgarian PM to stop amendments to Forest Act



Posted on 07 February 2012  | 
bulldozers in Rila
Bulldozers in Rila National Park, Bulgaria, constructing an illegal ski lift
© forthenature.orgEnlarge
In a letter addressed to Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, WWF Conservation Directors and conservation staff from across Europe have voiced their concern over proposed changes to Bulgaria’s Forest Act, which would allow for expansion of ski runs and ski facilities in protected areas in Bulgaria.

“We are concerned that the amendments, if passed as proposed, would go against the public interest and contravene EU and Bulgarian legislation on competition as well as nature protection”, WWF Conservation Directors state.

The proposed amendments, pushed through Bulgarian Parliament at the very end of 2011 without any public consultation, would allow for the construction of ski runs and ski facilities without changing land use. Furthermore, they would allow the acquisition of building rights on public land without tender and for an indefinite period. The changes were recently approved by the Bulgarian government and are now being considered by the Bulgarian Parliament.

According to the letter, the new Bulgarian Forests Act which came into force in April 2011 was praised both from within and outside of Bulgaria for its progressive elements such as opportunities for payments for environmental services and forestry certification. But the amendments proposed by Boyko Borissov’s government scarcely nine months after passage of the new Forests Act would undermine key aspects of that legislation.

“We therefore urge you to withdraw the proposed legislative amendments or at least to consider changes to the amendments as proposed by the Bulgarian nature conservation coalition of civil society organisations For The Nature submitted to all parliamentary groups and independent Members of Parliament”, the letter states.

“We are further concerned by the manner in which decision making on the proposed legislation has been taking place, passed by the Council of Ministers in four days over the Christmas holidays and in violation of the required two weeks for public consultation”, WWF Conservation Directors said.

According to WWF Conservation Directors, Bulgaria is home to many of Europe’s outstanding natural treasures and has a special responsibility to preserve this wealth not only on behalf of Bulgarians but also, as a member of the European Union, on behalf of all Europeans.
bulldozers in Rila
Bulldozers in Rila National Park, Bulgaria, constructing an illegal ski lift
© forthenature.org Enlarge

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