We strongly believe that if we protect the old forests and keep them intact from logging for commercial use or road construction, we can have more chances to restore and protect their biodiversity.
Bulgarian municipalities manage 13% of the forests in Bulgaria (523 thousand ha) and only 9% of them are over 100 years old.
Having finished a 2-year thorough field research and mapping of old-growth forests on the territory of 38 municipalities, our objective now is to “strike a deal” with the authorities and put those precious habitats under protection and declare them a no-go area for commercial use and logging.
Our hard work has already brought results. We have managed to convince 2 municipalities – Botevgrad and Sevlievo.
Now 2 more municipalities responded to our appeal – Harmanli (186 ha) and Kyustendil (170 ).
The memorandum of agreement with each municipality makes us happy and motivated as we cherish all our forests and the animals that live there.
The agreement with Kyustendil goes one point higher on our scorecard of happiness as its territory is in the Osogovo mountain – the place where a camera trap documented the last lynx in live.
This area was once home to the lovely big cat and it came back each spring to meet with a mate. They felt safe and they were able to find each other and create the next generation of lynxes.
More good news is coming soon. So, stay tuned. And spread a good word about what we have achieved together with you!
WWF’s hard work with municipalities and local communities already brings great results
As we reported last November, WWF Bulgaria and our partners mapped out the old forests on the territories of 38 municipalities in the country.
Municipalities manage 13% of the forests in Bulgaria (523 thousand ha) and only 9% of them are over 100 years old. They are mainly concentrated in watersheds and steep terrains. In addition to being home to amazing flora and fauna, they protect the waters, prevent erosion and floods, purify the air, and enrich the soil, making them of great importance to humans and to sustaining our environment in the face of climate change.
However, in order to continue providing these vital ecosystem services, urgent measures need to be taken. One of them – to convince the owner of the land – the respective municipality – to put the old forests under protection and declare them a no-go area for commercial use. The first municipality to answer WWF’s request was Botevgrad with 1000 decares.
In May the municipality of Sevlievo (Central Balkan) took that step, too, declaring 700 decares of 150-year old beech forests under protection.
We continue our work with state and regional authorities and there is hope that more municipalities will follow the example of Botevgrad and Sevlievo.
Identifying and mapping of old-growth forests is essential to protecting valuable habitats and the species living there.
WWF work closely with forestries and help them set and achieve goals on responsible and sustainable forest management. Or in other words, how to take better care of the forests.
One of our main regions in the last 2 years has been Eastern Rhodopi. We had field work on the territory of Zlatograd, Ardino, Krumovgrad, Zhenda, Momchilgrad, Shiroka Laka, etc. These forestry units are soon to be FSC certified.
The FSC system allows businesses and consumers to identify, purchase and use wood, paper and other forest products made with materials from well-managed forests and/or recycled sources. Approximately 40% of Bulgarian forests are FSC-certified so far.
We trained 150 employees of forest units in Eastern Rhodopi. A training usually takes 2 days. Experts from WWF and FSC auditors teach the emplooyees how to manage the forest while protecting the rare and endangered species. They also give advice on how to collect feedback from stakeholders and local communities.
It is a really hands-on training as it is always done during an approved logging activity. Attention is drawn to every aspect of the process – from the permission to cut certain number of trees to safety measures and clothing and best practices of transporting the wood out of the forest.
Within two years of scientific and field work, WWF Bulgaria and partners have mapped out old forests located in territories owned by 30 municipalities in the country. The large-scale survey was announced at an official press conference at the BTA, which was attended by representatives of municipalities, the scientific and environmental community, as well as non-governmental organizations and state bodies.
13% of the forests in Bulgaria (523 thousand ha) are managed by the municipalities, and only 9% of the municipal forests are over 100 years old. These are forests mainly concentrated in watersheds and steep terrains. In addition to being home to amazing biodiversity, they protect the waters, prevent erosion and floods, purify the air, and enrich the soil, making them of great importance to humans and to sustaining our environment in the face of climate change. However, in order to continue to provide these vital ecosystem services, urgent measures need to be taken to protect them.
Which forests are old-growth forests?
The old-growth forests are one of the last nooks and crannies of wildlife that are poorly influenced by man. They still hold examples of the biodiversity characteristic of the pristine forests that once existed throughout Bulgaria. Only in the old forests do the trees reach the age limit, often between 300 and 400 years old, and acquire majestic dimensions of over 40 - 50 m in height and 1 - 2 m in thickness, perishing without being cut down. Today the old forests in Bulgaria are concentrated mainly in places where access is still restricted due to lack of roads or steep terrain. WWF publishes more information on its public GIS platform: https://gis.wwf.bg/mobilz/
WWF Bulgaria has filed a lawsuit against the Ministry of Environment and Water for logging violations
WWF Bulgaria has filed a lawsuit against the Ministry of Environment and Water for logging violations on the territory of Pirin National Park. Under the pretext that sanitary felling is being carried out, trees may be removed in the park in violation of the Protected Areas Act.
Logging in the national park is the next threat to Pirin after the construction plans. WWF has warned that logging is often permitted without the necessary legal prerequisite. "To correct this vicious practice, we filed a lawsuit against one such sanitary clearing permit in the national park," said Dobromir Dobrinov of WWF Bulgaria.
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