WWF welcomes Bulgarian Forest Act veto, but warns of lack of progress
In the aftermath of the protests, representatives of WWF and the coalition of NGOs and civic groups "For the Nature" were finally able to meet with government officials after the coalition had repeatedly sent requests for meetings with Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and had organized a series of lawful protests over the past six months.
“We met with government officials several times, but no progress has been made on the most controversial amendments yet, those that would practically allow for the construction of ski runs and ski facilities without changing land use and for the acquisition of building rights on public land without tender”, said Konstantin Ivanov, Head of Communications at WWF Bulgaria.
“It’s precisely these amendments that go against the public interest and contravene EU and Bulgarian legislation on competition as well as nature protection”, Ivanov said. “We are determined to fight these amendments, because they simply mean further deforestation and building up of forests and protected areas.”
Meanwhile, thousands of protestors continue to demonstrate massive support for the protection of Bulgaria’s forests and protected areas. A lawful demonstration of skiers, snowboarders and hikers took place on 20 June and another protest is scheduled for 3 July. Support from Bulgarians living abroad continues to pour in through social media networks.
Counter protests of people backing the amendments were also held, but TV reports revealed that some of the protesters were employees of local councils from small municipalities who had been ordered to protest in Sofia.
Protected areas constitute only 5% of Bulgaria’s territory, while state forests, the last significant public resource that has not yet passed into private hands in Bulgaria, are 26% of the country’s territory.