Bulgarian Eco Activists, Investors Clash over Rila Mountain

Environment | March 11, 2011, Friday // 14:31|  views

Supporters and opponents of expanding the NATURA 2000 zone in Bulgaria’s Rila Mountain staged a protest in front of the building of the Environment Ministry in downtown Sofia. Photo by BGNES

The decision to include the so-called Rila-buffer zone in Bulgaria's Rila Mountain in the European eco network NATURA 2000 was postponed over the failure to reach consensus.

The decision was made by the National Council on Biodiversity Friday.

All the time during the meeting at the Environment Ministry, demonstrators, both supporters and opponents of expanding NATURA were chanting slogans under the building's windows.

The saga surrounding the Rila-buffer zone has been going on for months now with the Environment Ministry changing its borders several times.

The environmentalists accuse the Ministry of attempting to remove from the zone attractive land plots over investment intentions of several wealthy Bulgarians.

The Council decided to create a work group of NGO representatives and experts from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the Environment Ministry to re-examine all proposals and reach maximum agreement combining needed protection of species and business interests in the region. The deadline has not been determined.

The meeting's participants also made the decision to expand and create new NATURA zones for the protection of birds – with them they will reach 98% of the EU requirements and stop the infringement procedure started by Brussels against Bulgaria over its failure to comply with bird protection mandates.

The demonstrators remained on the street after the meeting's conclusion.

The eco activists insist on including as protected areas the entire buffer zones around the Rila National Parks.

Their opponents from the National Civil Association "Nature for People," and several other organizations are against expanding the zone, saying they want an end of the eco racket in the country, created by several "self-proclaimed" activists, and opportunities to realize reasonable and eco-sound investment projects.

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Tags: National Council on Biodiversity, Rila Mountain, Rila-buffer, buffer zone, NATURA, Enviroment Ministry, eco activists, environmentalists, investment


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