Bulgaria Protected Areas campaign

Save Bulgaria's Treasures!

Bulgaria has some of Europe's most valuable natural areas, but these treasures are being destroyed.

Holiday homes, hotels, villas, ski resorts and ski runs are being built in many of Bulgaria's national and nature parks. They are being built illegally, against existing national laws and regulations.

We need to send a clear message

* To those destroying Bulgaria's natural treasures: that this is not acceptable
* To relevant authorities: to implement existing laws and regulations
* To political decision makers: to take necessary steps to ensure real protection for the country's natural riches

About the campaign

Launched in October 2006, WWF's campaign is part of a broader effort by Bulgarian organisations to stop the increasing number of illegal activities that are affecting Bulgaria’s protected areas. "For the Nature" is a coalition

The NGO campaign has been mobilising a growing number of people both in and outside of Bulgaria. Today, the ongoing destruction of Bulgaria's greatest treasures is the top environmental concern for most Bulgarians (73.6%, according to a September 2008 poll by Alpha Research), followed by concern over illegal construction (58.3%).

Over 145,000 Bulgarians signed a petition organised by WWF and partner organisations that emphasises Bulgaria's outstanding natural capital, the main threats to it and calls on the authorities to take action before it is too late. The signatures and petition were presented to the Bulgarian President, Prime Minister and Parliament as well as to relevant authorities in spring 2008.

In April-May 2007, over 14,000 people from around the world sent messages to the Bulgarian President, Prime Minister and Parliament calling on them to take action on one particular case, Strandzha Nature Park, where a holiday complex has been illegally constructed. Additional letters of concern have been sent to the Bulgarian government by WWF's Director General as well as a number of organisations, including the European Habitats Forum, Eurosite and Europarc.

None of the addressees -- neither the Bulgarian President, Prime Minister, Parliament nor relevant authorities -- have issued any response to the letters and petitions nor has any action been taken.

Nevertheless, the plight of Bulgaria's protected areas has received national and even international attention. At stake are not only many of Bulgaria's greatest natural jewels, but also something much bigger -- the future of Bulgarian society: whether it will be corrupt and governed by organised crime, or whether it will be open, participative and democratic.

The European Commission has strongly criticised the Bulgarian government for its failure to address the problems of corruption, organised crime and poor system of justice.

Whose interests will government serve?

Please help us keep up the pressure to save Bulgaria's natural wealth!

Contact and further information:

Konstantin Ivanov, WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme/Bulgaria, tel. +359 2 8656130

bulldozers in Rila / ©: forthenature.org
Bulldozers in Rila National Park, Bulgaria, constructing an illegal ski lift
© forthenature.org
logo of For the Nature coalition of Bulgarian nature conservation organisations / ©: forthenature.org
logo of For the Nature coalition of Bulgarian nature conservation organisations
© forthenature.org
 / ©: Ogilvy & Mather Sofia
Print ad, Bulgaria Protected Areas Campaign Text in English: "For Sale - Pirin National Park. Parcel 403320 dka; located on international E79 route; ideal conditions for skiing; accessible from Greece and Macedonia; Fir trees; Wild boars, bears, chamoix and trout. Nature pays with its life. Protect protected areas. Support WWF. www.panda.org/bulgaria."
© Ogilvy & Mather Sofia
  •  / ©: Tsveta Hristova
    View of the Bansko ski area, built in the core zone of Pirin National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, against both national and international legislation. The project was illegally constructed a few years ago despite considerable domestic and international protests and is now planned to be significantly expanded, again at the cost of the National Park.
  • Semi-finished buildings by a seaside / ©: Konstantin Ivanov
    Hotel complex and holiday homes being illegally constructed in Stranzha Nature Park. Units of the complex have already been sold to foreign investors from England, Ireland and Belgium.
  • people protest in the night / ©: forthenature.org
  • mountain climbers with a huge slogan / ©: forthenature.org

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