Award-winning rural development

EuroNatur partner organisation Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation (BBF) is among the winners of the European Natura 2000 Award 2016. In cooperation with four other NGOs, BBF developed a program that serves both for protecting nature in Bulgaria’s Balkan Mountains and for creating sustainable economic prospects for the local population.

Sheep in grassland

Sheep conserve valuable habitats by keeping grasslands in the Balkan Mountains open.

© Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna

The Balkan Mountain region in Bulgaria, running from the country’s north-west to the Black Sea, is ranked among the poorest regions in the EU. Young people don’t see a future in traditional agriculture and migrate to metropolitan areas. Combined with overexploitation of forests and other natural resources, this is causing the deterioration of ecologically valuable habitats reliant on human intervention.

In order to counter this trend, BBF and their partners developed innovative funding schemes that attribute financial value and rewards to sustainable forms of cultivation and their benefits to ecosystems. This work now won the European Commission’s Natura 2000 Award in the “Socio-economic benefits” category.

Read the communication by the European Commission on the Natura 2000 Award winners


This yearly contest has been launched by the European Commission two years ago. An expert jury decorates the most effective and innovative initiatives within the Natura 2000 network.




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