WWF-Bulgaria Plants a New Forest along the Maritza River

Posted on 20 November 2019

Breathing new life into a 28000 m² riverside area near Stamboliyski, Bulgaria.
20 November 2019 (Sofia, Bulgaria) – On November 21, the WWF-Bulgaria conservation team, the Stamboliyski Municipality, local businesses and groups of enthusiastic volunteers will plant twelve thousand saplings and seeds of tree species adapted to the local environment, and breathe new life into the 28000 m² riverside area near Stamboliyski. White willow, black and white poplar, ash, black alder, elm, Old World sycamore and oak will be planted over a 1-month period along the Maritza River. Dozens of nature lovers already responded to WWF-Bulgaria’s call last week to prepare the site, clearing the terrain of 120 bags of garbage.
Why the riparian forests are important?
Riparian forests are forested or wooded areas of land adjacent to a body of water, and are extremely valuable because they strengthen banks, limit erosion, absorb dust, improve water quality, prevent floods, and maintain habitats and eco-corridors for very rare plants and animals. Despite the numerous ecosystem services they provide, riparian forests have been destroyed for centuries to free up grasslands, create agricultural land, and build dikes and other infrastructure. Consequently, there is an urgent need to restore and protect the remaining riparian forests,” says Neli Doncheva, Chief Forestry Expert, WWF-Bulgaria
Mondi Stambolijski is one of the local businesses participating as part of the global partnership between WWF and the Mondi Group. “This is the third plot of restored riparian forest in the Maritza River water catchment, where our mill is located. This is an example of the work we do with WWF globally to protect areas of high conservation value, working with a landscape approach to secure biodiversity and ecosystem services in the areas where we source wood, and particularly in areas close to our manufacturing operations,“ explains Gladys Naylor, Head of Sustainable Development, Mondi Group
Selection of tree species
Proper identification of the right species for planting is a complex and responsible process based on years of research and observation by foresters, biologists and ecologists. WWF experts warn that afforestation only makes sense when some basic rules are respected – climate, soil characteristics, natural vegetation of the area, the origin of saplings and local biodiversity must all be taken into account.
The saplings that will be planted along the Maritza River have been carefully selected according to the specifics of the riparian forest habitats. This habitat type is characterised by black alder, poplar, willow, ash and oak trees. All of them are suitable for alluvial soils and also are capable of withstanding temporary floods.
Following many years of local collaboration, WWF and Mondi Group launched a global strategic partnership in 2014 to promote responsible forestry, water stewardship and a sustainable packaging and paper sector. In 2017, Mondi extended its global partnership by another three years to build on progress made in the first phase. In Bulgaria, the partnership has supported over 150,000 hectares of State-owned forest to achieve Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. WWF, with Mondi’s support, has mapped high conservation value forests (HCVF), carried out social impact surveys and provided training and capacity-building for foresters operating in these areas. Afforestation along the Maritsa River is just one of the partnership’s efforts to promote sustainable forest management.
For more information:
Konstantin Hristov
Press Officer,
khristov@wwf.bg, Tel: +359 896 720 640
Neli Doncheva
Chief Forestry Expert,
ndoncheva@wwf.bg, Tel: +359 885 511 014
Susan Brunner
Senior Sustainability Positioning Manager,
Mondi Group
The saplings have been carefully selected according to the specifics of riparian forest habitats
© WWF-Bulgaria
Volunteers prepared the site and cleared 120 bags of garbage.
© WWF-Bulgaria