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The civil proposals that will be submitted to the responsible institutions are from the districts of Blagoevgrad, Kyustendil, Sliven, Sofia and Stara Zagora.

A total of 19 are the civil proposals for new protected areas and old-growth trees in the competition “Nature Guardians”, which ended on September 18th. The organizers The Association of Parks in Bulgaria and the BALKANS Wildlife Society congratulate all the participants for their civic engagement and expressed will to protect Bulgarian nature! All participating citizens will be invited to participate in the trainings on green advocacy, which will be conducted within the project “Informed citizen participation in favor of nature “, supported by the EEA Financial Mechanism.

Many of the proposals were prepared excellent with comprehensive information, lots of photos and maps and with the support of local people or institutions. We hope that MoEW will recognize the civil energy and will support the proposals, which will put an end to a negative trend of the last 10 years for not declaring new protected areas (infographics with more information – here and here)“, said the organizers.

The expert commission evaluated the received applications according to the following criteria: value of the proposed territory/tree, realism of the proposal to be accepted, location and potential threats to the territory/tree. Although the declared intention was only three old-growth trees and three protected cites to receive expert support, the commission decided to award five proposals for protected areas.

Here are the best applications

Old-growth trees

Winter oak (gorun), Belitsa Municipality, Blagoevgrad region – proposed by the Forestry Department of Belitsa;

Old-growth oaks, “St. Dimitar” Monastery, Gabra village, Sofia region – proposed by Evelina Yordanova;

Common beech, Petrich Municipality, Blagoevgrad region – proposed by Veysel Karakia.

Protected sites

“Kichesta”, village of Borov dol, Tvarditsa Municipality, Sliven region – proposed by Ivan Gochev;

Boryana`s Forest, Kazanlak Municipality, Stara Zagora region – proposed by Velcho Alexiev, Svetoslav Todorov, Nelly Doncheva, Alexandra Alexandrova.

Nature Monuments

“Shegava”, Kyustendil Municipality, Kyustendil District – proposed by Atanas Ivanov and Stanislav Todorov;

Fran Kaya, Dilikli Kaya, Cherveni kamak, Chelopech Municipality, Sofia district – proposed by the Chelopech municipality;

Karst spring, Kotel, Sliven region – proposed by Mladen Stanev.

The experts from APB and BALKANI Wildlife Society will send feedback for each of the proposals. The winners will be assisted in preparing the necessary documentation, establishing contacts with responsible institutions and promoting the proposals. Some of the other applications also received very high evaluation, but the committee considered that the proposals needed to be revised before they can be formally submitted. Experts are committed to provide guidance for their improvement. The organizers point out that some territories can be protected through other mechanisms besides the Protected Areas Act, for which they will also provide professional guidance.

Anyone who wishes can acquaint with all the proposals from this link.

APB and BALKANI Wildlife Society point out that submitting a proposal for a new protected area is a complex process that requires communication with landowners, responsible institutions, local administration. However, the organizations are convinced that the participants in the competition are ready to work for the protection of their favorite forests, rivers and meadows!

The competition was launched within the framework of the project “Informed citizen participation in favor of nature”, which is executed with the financial support provided by Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway through the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism. The main goal of the project is to improve the opportunities for civic participation in the local government through increasing awareness and advocacy skills of local people for preserving nature.