Where storks are "honorary citizens"

The ball that EuroNatur set rolling 15 years ago with its initiative "European Stork-Villages", is rolling splendidly: More and more awarded villages take active part in the Europe-wide ecological network for the protection of storks.

© Bruno Dittrich

One example is the 5000-soul-community of Belozem in the south of Bulgaria, awarded in 2005, which for the fourth time in a row held a festival last May in honor of the large black-and-white bird. Acceptance there is high. The stork festival was organized and sponsored by the mayor of Belozem, EuroNatur's partner Green Balkans, the municipal administration of the town of Rakovsky and local enterprises. The festival helps enhancing the status of the village and attracts both national and international attention. Among others, two important statesmen, the Bulgarian vice president and the minister of the environment were invited to the festival. The aim of the festival is to promote the protection of storks and natural habitat in Europe.

Another aspect of the festival is to promote Belozem as an attractive destination for nature tourism. Large parts of the community are located in the flood plains of the river Maritsa, the largest domestic river of Bulgaria. Here, you can still find intact habitats for white storks and many other species: extensively farmed marsh areas, pastures and paddy fields deliver plenty of food. Large surfaces of this land have been designated a potential "Natura 2000" area. The roof of the school building of Belozem alone accommodates the nests of 14 stork pairs every year.
By awarding European Stork-Villages, EuroNatur intends to encourage actions to protect the storks. Ten European villages were awarded so far.
To celebrate the 15th anniversary of this initiative, the network of European Stork-Villages will meet in the natural park of Lonjsko Polje in the wetlands of the river Save from June 18 to 21. The Croatian community of ?igo? was the first stork village to be awarded by EuroNatur in 1994.  

Information on all stork villages from 1994 to 2008 (PDF-file 434 kb)
Link to EuroNatur's partner Green Balkans

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