Experts from FYR of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia received practical guidance and shared experiences with their Bulgarian colleagues on the implementation of the EU nature legislation, during a study tour that took place last December.
The study tour was organized by IUCN within the EU-funded project “Building capacity on EU Nature Policies” in cooperation with Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation. Topics such as establishment of NATURA 2000 network, financial support from the EU funds for organic agriculture, transhumance and protection of rare breeds, and management of grasslands were discussed on the spot with experts working at the very local level. All 3 national parks in Bulgaria (Rila, Pirin and Central Balkan) were also visited since in many cases national parks are used as pilot sites for testing specific schemes and support-providing measures. Study tour participants saw how challenging nature protection could be despite legally-binding EU legislation and that success could be achieved only by dedicated hard-working people.
One of the main recommendations given by Bulgarian experts was to use the pre-accession period, when preparations including national legislation harmonization is done, wisely and effectively. Various ways of acting in order to secure better acquis implementation were suggested such as the valuable cooperation between conservation specialists and the wider public but also the indispensable dialogue with the European Commission and other relevant European institutions. CSOs should be active also at all other fronts – being represented in the working groups and monitoring committees, providing advisory services to local actors etc.
Although a new member state, Bulgaria gained quite some experience in enforcing the EU nature law. The 10 complaints submitted to the European Commission in addition to tens of court cases in the country initiated for violation of the nature legislation in the last 4 years speak about the scale of involvement of NGOs and wider public in this process. Not only does increased involvement of the public enhances nature conservation culture in the country but it also strengthens civil society when it comes to standing for its rights.
For more information please contact Veronika Ferdinandova, Biodiversity Project Officer at IUCN Programme Office for South Eastern Europe.