Burgas Governor supports the idea of Strandja as Bulgaria’s first Biosphere Reserve of a new generation
UNESCO representatives paid a visit to the Burgas Governor, Konstantin Grebenarov, to bring into the light the results of the International workshop on “Best practices for sustainable use and biodiversity conservation in protected areas” held from 14-16 March 2011 in Tsarevo, Bulgaria. More than 60 people participated in the workshop and learnt about biosphere reserves in Europe and whether Strandja is a suitable region for such a designation. The experience of Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Turkey and Greece shared during the seminar showed that this concept is aimed mainly towards man and man’s harmonious coexistence with the surrounding nature. While protected areas preserve mainly biodiversity, biosphere reserves are focused mostly on humans and on the promotion of their own potential for sustainable development.
The Wienerwald Biosphere Park includes part of Vienna and is crossed by a highway. The nomination of the Island of Samothrace (Greece) has been submitted to the UNESCO office and its revision and approval are forthcoming. Of particular interest was the example of Rhön (Germany) – an area similar to Strandja, where the region owes its successful development to the Biosphere Reserve. The participants found the presentations made by the Strandja Nature Park Directorate and the Tsarevo Municipality most interesting. Unfortunately, the Malko Tarnovo Municipality failed to become involved in the international initiative and did not expound its opportunities and difficulties.
The third day of the seminar was dedicated to acquainting the participants with the potential of the Strandja Nature Park and to presenting some of its most remarkable areas, villages and centres. The Tsarevo Municipality presented fire-walking custom in the Village of Bulgari, included in 2009 in the List of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. The Strandja Park Directorate introduced its most recent and not yet officially opened visitor centre in the Village of Gramatikovo, presenting the park habitats and the rare plant species residing in the park. The participants also visited the Information Centre of the Directorate in Malko Tarnovo. Most exciting was the visit to the Village of Brushlyan where the attractive folklore programme and the inclusion of the guests left unforgettable memories in all.
What are the conclusions? Strandja has the potential to be designated as Bulgaria’s first biosphere park of a new generation. The preserved nature, traditions and customs, the unique connection of the sea and the mountain are only a part of the advantages of the region. However, it is important to conduct a large-scale awareness campaign among the local people because all this can happen only with their common will. The experts made a wonderful proposal that we should talk about the designation of a biosphere region instead of using reserve, a word laden with certain fears, or park which overlaps with the existing park. It is important to consider also the inclusion of new territories such as the Sredets and Primorsko Municipalities, which are not part of the Strandja Park. Working in groups to discuss the benefits from a future biosphere park and the collaborative management structure proved of high interest. These and other issues are part of the important forthcoming discussion with all stakeholders in the region.
Having become aware of the Biosphere Park Concept and with the meaning of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme, the Burgas Regional Governor expressed his support to the idea and guaranteed his cooperation as Regional Administrator.
The workshop was organized with the financial support of UNESCO Venice Office and is part of the BBF project: “Collaboration for Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Local Development in Strandja Mountain in Bulgaria”, supported by a grant from Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein through the EEA Financial Mechanism.
Website : Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation (BBF)