Bulgarians take to the streets for the third time this year to save their largest protected area



Posted on 12 February 2014  | 
Street protest in Bulgaria to save Strandzha Nature Park, joined by WWF forest experts from around the world
Street protest in Bulgaria to save Strandzha Nature Park, joined by WWF forest experts from around the world
© WWF/Vladimir IvanovEnlarge
Sofia, Bulgaria  A third protest to protect Strandzha Nature Park took to the streets of Sofia last night. WWF and the other NGOs from the "For the Nature" coalition asked Bulgarian Parliament to make urgent legislative changes to save the largest protected area in the country and to spare possible infringement procedures of the European Commission.

The protest was also joined by WWF forest specialists from around the world. They are discussing this week in Sofia how to address challenges to global forest ecosystems and related environmental services like curbing greenhouse gas emissions and water quality.

Earlier, Bulgarian Supreme Administrative Court ruled out that the new master plan of Tsarevo municipality (one of the two municipalities in Strandzha Nature Park) may proceed without a mandatory environmental assessment and this could not be appealed. The masterplan of Tsarevo municipality envisages construction over two thirds of the Black Sea coastline of the nature park with resorts with a capacity of 75,000 people.

The ruling puts all protected areas in Bulgaria in danger as - because of the precedent - any municipaly may proceed its masterplan without an environmental assessment.

Strandzha Nature Park is the biggest protected area of Bulgaria, part of the EUs Natura 2000 network of specially protected sites. Established in 1995, the nature park borders the Black Sea and includes unique vegetation and the largest oak and beech forest complex in Southeastern Europe.

Street protests appealing for Strandzha Nature Park to be saved took place simultaniously in eleven Bulgarian cities last night.

An online petition gathered more than 20,000 signatures demanding Bulgarian parliament to protect Strandzha through a change of law.
 
Street protest in Bulgaria to save Strandzha Nature Park, joined by WWF forest experts from around the world
Street protest in Bulgaria to save Strandzha Nature Park, joined by WWF forest experts from around the world
© WWF/Vladimir Ivanov Enlarge
Forest in Strandzha Nature Park, Bulgaria
Forest in Strandzha Nature Park, Bulgaria
© WWF-Canon/Michel Gunther Enlarge
river flows into sea
Veleka river mouth in Strandzha Nature Park in Bulgaria
© WWF-Canon/Michael Gunther Enlarge

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