Bulgaria: Natura 2000 & Biodiversity Symposium

Under the initiative of the FACE Member SLRB (Union of Hunters and Anglers of Bulgaria) a symposium on Natura 2000 and Biodiversity was held at their headquarters in Sofia.

the Symposium encompassed a panel of speakers from the Ministry of Environment, Forestry Agency, the BSPB (BirdLife Bulgaria) and the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation. FACE’s Cy Griffin presented an overview of the Birds and Habitats Directives and their implications for the governance of hunting practices at national level.

Many of the questions raised were similar to those posed in other Member States: What are the benefits and threats of Natura 2000? What are the future challenges for hunting and how best to maintain the role of hunters as guardians of nature? The one striking difference in Bulgaria was the level of understanding and agreement between the different stakeholders groups at the meeting. There were also several examples where the SLRB is working with other NGOs on nature conservation projects such as the recently completed habitat restoration project for the Rock Partridge (Alectoris graeca) financed by the European Regional Development Fund, but also other projects on non-game species such as the Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug) or the Semi-collared Flycatcher (Ficedula semitorquata). 

During more informal discussions, concerns were raised on the increasing populations of Golden Jackal (Canis aureus) which is becoming more widespread, even moving into semi-urban areas.

In his closing words, the President of the SLRB Ivan Petkov described the symposium as a breakthrough in constructive dialogue, not just with the NGOs, but also with the Ministries and government agencies. The next steps required are greater government support for wildlife management, and better communication with society at large on hunting and its benefit to biodiversity.