Bulgaria's conservationists prevent controversial Forestry Act

In the dispute about the revision of the Bulgarian Forestry Act conservation has achieved major success. Due to massive pressure from Bulgarian nature conservation organisations like EuroNatur-partner Green Balkans, parliament has withdrawn the most controversial passages from the final version of the amending law.

Hope for Bulgaria's unique forests: the amendment to the Forestry Act includes important demands from conservationists.

© Green Balkans

The amendments the government initially introduced were supposed to facilitate the extension of ski resorts in national forests and protected areas. The government's proposal meant that ski slopes and other facilities should further on being registered as forests if being built on former woodland areas. Neither a long-term environmental impact study nor the expensive rededication of the wooded properties into other forms of use would have been possible. Investors therefore would have been able to transform forest areas into ski resorts - at no costs and unbuerocratically. Bulgaria's conservationists believed that the powerful tourism lobby was behind these plans and feared a wide destruction of the country's unique forests.

After parliament had incorporated the changes suggested by the government into its own bill in mid-June, protests arose throughout the country. For weeks representatives from nature conversation organizations and action groups marched on the streets to protest against the imminent destruction of Bulgaria's forests. Their success proved them right: with the final version of the amendment recently passed, the parliament followed most of the proposals from the Bulgarian conservationists: stricter guidelines of the former Forestry Act regarding the development of ski resorts and other facilities in forests remain unchanged in the new version. Furthermore investors have to make compensation payments for all woodland being cleared in order to build new facilities. With these payments new forests are being planted in other locations.

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