Bulgaria – On November the 2nd, 2016, the Bulgarian Minister of Agriculture and Food Desislava Taneva signed a ministerial order placing 109,000 hectares of forest owned by the state as ancient forests, allowing their preservation through the European program Natura 2000.
According to the Bulgarian Executive Agency of Forests, 10 percent of the territory classified Natura 2000 should now be strictly protected from human intervention. Indeed the Natura 2000 program is a framework to conserve biodiversity and enhance the natural heritage of the European territories, and does not bans human intervention on classified sites but place them under surveillance. Old-growth forests, or primary forests such as one still finds in Bulgaria, are particularly important to European biodiversity and therefore receive special attention from Natura 2000, in association with the various national forest agencies.
The NGO WWF-Bulgaria participated in this project by studying the Bulgarian forests. “WWF-Bulgaria studied more than 150,000 ha forest areas in priority regions with virgin forests such as Western Rhodoppes, Stara Planina and Sredna Gora. In field expeditions, we identified and mapped 25,000 hectares of the best preserved old-growth forests using modern scientific methods. More than half of these forests are now included in the ministerial order,” said Alexander Dountchev, Forest Expert in the WWF-Bulgaria.
This ministerial order was signed in order to reduce deforestation and preserve the wealth of this biodiversity in Bulgarian forests.