‘Bulgaria has some of Europe’s most valuable natural areas, but these treasures are being destroyed,’ the WWF said yesterday in a letter to Bulgarian authorities. ‘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.’
According to the WWF and other environmental groups, the construction boom, fuelled by corruption and weak public administration, is threatening the natural habitats of many rare and endangered species of birds and plants.
Though, at the start of the month, the national government in Sofia passed a scheme to include a fifth of its territory in the EU’s Natura 2000 nature conservation network, thereby triggering criticism from local residents and businesses fearful of losing revenue from tourism,
environmentalists complain that many protected areas have been left out.
The WWF campaign was launched in October 2006 and is part of a broader effort by Bulgarian organizations to focus attention on the rising number of illegal activities that are affecting Bulgaria’s protected areas and the authorities’ lack of reaction, involvement and financial support for the management of these areas.
The main tool of the campaign is the online petition, accessible on WWF’s newly launched Bulgarian website (www.panda.org/bulgaria). At the end of the campaign, signatures will be presented to the Bulgarian President, Prime Minister and Parliament as well as to the European Commission.