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The NTG team

Arda river

Frank Zanderink, АRК Nature - Leader of the NTG project

Frank was born in 1962. He graduated from the Agricultural University of Wage­ningen, the Netherlands (Forestry with specialisation on wildlife and nature management). He has worked for GREENPEACE NETHERLANDS; for WWF -Zambia on a project for Chikuni wetland in the North of Zambia; for VOLUNTARY SERVICE OVERSEAS (VSO/UK) on “Adapting Work Practices in Natural Resources"; as director in DE KLEINE AARDE Foundation and environmental education park (The Small Eearth). Currently, he is member of the management team of ARK foundation (Development of climate buffers in southern parts of the Netherlands; Re-introduction of Red deer in “Kempen~Broek” in the southern part of the Netherlands; Coordinator nature restoration projects in Latvia (Letlands and LIFE+), Bulgaria (New Thracian Gold) and Croatia; coordinator and chairman of Rugvin foundation. Frank’s special interests are in wildlife and marine wildlife. He speaks English, German, Dutch, French, Spanish, Indonesian and recently started learning Bulgarian. 

E-mail: frank.zanderink(@), tel: 00-31-26-3635444


Darko Znaor, Avalon - Deputy - leader of the NTG project

Born in: 1966

Languages: English, Croatian and basic Dutch and Bulgarian

Education and qualifications: PhD in environmental science

Professional experience: pioneer of organic farming in Croatia, Bulgaria and the region of former Yugoslavia. Experienced international expert with project references on rural development, agri-enviroment and organic farming in 25 countries. Project manager and/or consultant for the World Bank, UN agencies, the EC, several EU universities, governmental agencies and consultancies. The projects have spanned policy analysis and agricultural development, education, training and research.

Special Interests: environmental and economic consequences of large-scale conversion to organic farming

Bite me


Johan Bekhuis, АRК Nature - Coordinator Tourism and Communication  

Born in: 1954

Languages: Dutch, English, German, reading Frech and Spanish

Education and qualifications: Biology and Ecology at Radbound University Nijmegen

Professional experience:  ARK (nature restoration), WWF, SOVON Dutch center for field ornitology, European bird census council

Special Interests: Birdwatching, wildlife, reading, billiards

Vladislav Popov - Coordinator Organic Agriculture

Dr. Vladislav Popov was born in 1967 in Bulgaria. He completed his MSc degrees in Bulgaria and the Netherlands (1995), and received his PhD degree from the University of Western Sydney, Australia in 2005 in the field of prevention of water pollution from agricultural pesticides. Expert in the field of organic agriculture and agroecology, having extensive experience in the EU, Central and Eastern Europe, Caucasus, Central Asia and Africa in numerous projects and programmes within framework of EU PHARE, Leonardo da Vinci, FAO, Norwegian Funds, Avalon-Netherlands, etc. Since 1996, he is lecturing, teaching and doing research at the Agricultural University of Plovdiv, Bulgaria, also acting as Director of Agroecological Centre there. He is the Manager of the Avalon branch in Bulgaria since 2007 and as such he is coordinating projects in Central and Eastern Europe. He has professional interests in promoting organic agriculture and nature conservation and speaks Bulgarian, English and Russian language.

E-mail: vpopov_bg(@) , tel. +359 887 788 412



Fokko Erhart, ARK Nature – Coordinator Wilderness and Natural grazing

Born in 1968 in Rosmalen – Netherlands B.Sc. HBSC Velp. Land- and watermanagement
Management and promotion for ARK of natural grazing project in the ‘Gelderse Poort’ area in the Netherlands. Five area’s with natural in total 150 cattle and 150 horses.
Project leader for ARK in Bulgaria. Main professional activities:
* 1992-1995    Professional breeding bird counting in the Netherlands for SOVON. Coordination of 150 volunteer bird counters in the “Gelderse Poort”
* 1995-1996    Project coordinator of a new natural grazing project the “Meinerswijk” near the city of Arnhem. Financed by WWF. Promotion of eco-tourism in the “Rijnstrangen” near Arnhem
* 1997-2003    Project coordinator of five natural grazing projects in the Netherlands
* 2003->    Project coordinator of natural grazing project with Rodope Shorthorn Cow in  Madzharovo, Eastern Rhodopes.


Hristo Hristov - Coordinator Wilderness and Natural grazing

 Hristo graduated in Thracian University – Stara Zagora, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. Since 1988 he works on the biodiversity conservation and sustainable development of the Eastern Rhodopes. He is one of the founders of the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) and Conservation Center Eastern Rhodopes. Within the Bulgarian-Swiss Programme for biodiversity conservation and as a conservation officer of (BSPB) in the Eastern Rhodopes Hristo worked actively on the creation of a modern network of protected areas in the Eastern Rhodopes, on biodiversity conservation, monitoring and conservation of vultures and birds of prey in the region, on the preservation and spreading of rare local breeds (Karakachan sheep, horse, dog, Rhodopi Shorthorn cattle). He has worked for WWF - Greece on mapping of raptors in the Natural Park Dadia, Greece and as a landscape specialist for the Rhodope UNDP Project.

E-mail: grifonvul(@), тел +359 886 059 917

Stefan Avramov, expert on biodiversity

Stefan was born on 17 October 1967. Graduated in Thracian University, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.
He started with nature conservation activities since 1987 when he as student was involved in vulture conservation in Eastern Rhodopes. He was part of the team that created the recent network of protected areas in Eastern Rhodopes within a project of Bulgarian Swiss Biodiversity Conservation Program. Stefan participated in a few successful NGOs campaigns for amendments to several acts Biodiversity, Hunting, Fishery, Protected areas and Forestry.
One of the founding members of the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) / BirdLife Bulgaria in 1988. Representative of Bulgarian NGOs in the National Hunting Council at National Forestry board. Member of European Section of Society for Conservation Biology since 2006. Member of World Commission on Protected Areas at IUCN. Member of a working group on European Biodiversity strategy at European Habitat Forum.

E-mail: sga(@), тел +359 886 605 410

Devil's bridge

Mihaela Kircheva - Coordinator Alternative Tourism

Mihaela was born in 1978 in Bulgaria. She graduated International tourism in Bulgaria and got trainings in ecotourism, EU programming, digital marketing and SEO. She was working in the tourism field since 1998. Since 2005 she devoted herself to the tourism development of the Eastern Rhodopes. She is a member of the Bulgarian association for alternative tourism. Mihaela has also broad experience in sustainable development and destination management. Currently she manages a travel company and small guest house, she's a copy-writer in travel blogs and web sites, translator, and coordinator of the tourism part of the "New Thracian Gold" project. Mihaela's fluent in English, French and Russian. Her special interests are photography, music and culinary.

E-mail: mihaela.kircheva(@), тел +359 887 831 026


Hilda Feenstra, Avalon – PR and communications 

Hilda graduated in journalism in 1995. After ten years as a news reporter for Dutch national radio, she switched carreers and became a communication expert. Having worked in communication for ten years as an advisor, press officer and manager at government- and nonprofit organizations, she switched carreers again: Hilda is now self-employed in the field of sustainable development, of course still using her communication skills in assignments. Hence working for Avalon makes a great match.




Iva Tontcheva, PR and communication


Iva graduated in journalism from Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication in Sofia University.
Experienced journalist with more than 20 years career in BTA, Bulgarian News Agency and BBC - Bulgarian Section correspondent. One of the contributors to Gorichka, first in Bulgaria initiative for green life style.

Over the last years she has gained expertise as a media and communication expert in projects, mostly on sustainable development, nature conservation and organic products.

E-mail: iva.tontcheva(@), тел + 359 884 266 804



Year of birth: 1954
Languages: Dutch, English, German, (reading French and Spanish)
Education and qualifications: Biology/Ecology at Radboud University Nijmegen
Professional experience: ARK (nature restoration), WWF (One Europe More Nature), SOVON Dutch Centre for Field Ornithology (national bird census schemes), European Bird Census Council (European Breeding Bird Atlas)
Special Interests: Birdwatching, wildlife, reading, billiards

Farms and attractions

The Wild Farm in the village of Gorno Pole The Wild Farm is a non-traditional, organic farm in the village of Gorno Pole, Madzharovo...

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Organic model farm

ORGANIC MODEL-FARM TOPOLOVO village,  MADZHAROVO municipality  This model-farm plays a key-role in the New Thracian Gold (NTG)...

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