WWF launches a campaign to protect the rivers of Bulgaria
A petition was also started in the capital Sofia at the emblematic Eagles’ Bridge - many environmental protests there pushed for saving of the country’s wild nature.
“A few free flowing rivers still remain in Bulgaria. We take for granted the wealth that the rivers bring to us, but we don’t realize that it is almost exhausted”, says Ivan Hristov, head of the freshwater programme of WWF in Bulgaria.
“Rivers are subject to continual pressure every day. Humans recklessly squeeze life out of them. Every year we witness increasingly severe floods because rivers have been channelized with outdated and nowadays dangerous infrastructure. The old-school management of rivers from the middle of the 20th century, is still used today”, Ivan Hristov adds.
The issuesRiparian vegetation is cut down to make room for agricultural land or to unsuccessfully prevent floods.
Rivers are straightened and diked which accelerates the stream, eroding the riverbed and altering the natural balance.
Dams prevent the migration of river species and stop the movement of nutrients and sediments.
Quite often even the minimum water flow is not left after each intake, so as to ensure that life in the river will not completely disappear.
Excavation of sand and gravel from the rivers for construction has devastating effects both for the river ecosystem, and inland.
Almost all fish passes in Bulgaria have been built without experts being involved and with no tests whether they work at all.
"WWF starts the river campaign in Bulgaria, so that the most urgent problems of the rivers are addressed today - tomorrow it would be much more expensive”, says Vesselina Kavrakova, WWF country manager in Bulgaria.
"And the solution is simple – compliance with the legislation."
The petition for the protection of Bulgarian rivers goes under the slogan “DeSign the story of rivers".
In 2013, a WWF campaign in Romania called 'Mountain rivers: the last chance' mobilized associations of fishermen, researchers, academics and ecotourism groups across the country. In the end 20,000 nature lovers signed the petition to stop the approval of small hydropower sites under existing laws.