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NTG Representative Participated in Green Belt Conference

Stefan Avramov, an expert on biodiversity in the "The New Thracian Gold" project took part in the Third Balkan Green Belt Conference in Ulcinj, Montenegro from 16 to 18 November.

 Over 50 representatives of NGOs and Ministries of Environment in Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Austria, Slovenia and other countries met in order to discuss about the future of the European Green Belt in South-Eastern Europe.

 German Environment Agency, which is the biggest donor of the Green Belt Initiative, presented the achievements of Germany for the reviving of the German Green Belt.

 Speakers from Germany, Austria and Slovenia presented the experience to build cross-border protected areas and sustainable local development in Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Hungary. All participants had the opportunity to present their activities at the Fair of Balkan Green Belt.

The opportunities to create new large transboundary protected areas in the Balkans were discussed. One of the main conclusions of the meeting is that it is not possible sustainable conservation without deep involving of the local communities and their active support for the process. It was pointed out that this can happen only through projects that promote sustainable local development and bring real benefits to local communities.

Stefan Avramov presented the activities of "New Thracian Gold" project in the Eastern Rhodopes during the Fair and discussions in the working groups. The eastern Rhodopes emerged as one of the greatest opportunities for big transboundary protected area in the Balkans.

 “One of the main tasks of nature conservation in Europe is to safeguard the natural treasures along the Green Belt by proclaiming national and nature parks. We therefore call upon all governments of the countries along the Balkan Green Belt to take action and to protect these important elements of the European natural heritage. Large devastating infrastructure projects which endanger and fragment this important European ecological network should not be allowed”, demands Gabriel Schwaderer, Executive Director of EuroNatur Foundation during closing the conference.

What is "Green Belt"

The Green belt is an initiative of one of the largest international wildlife organizations -The World ConservationUnion. The Green belt is 6800 km at length and it crosses 22 countries, which makes it the “bridge” between all border territories in Europe, artificially divided in the past by the Iron Curtain. Isolation and inaccessibility of these territories has turned them into refuge of many endangered animal and plant species.

The opening of the borders between Eastern and Western Europe reveals that exactly the regions along the Iron Curtain have turned into especially valuable refuges for many threatened animal and plant species. In recognition of the uniqueness of these areas IUCN, the German Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) and German non-governmental organisations launch the European Green Belt Initiative. It should contribute to the conservation of valuable natural sites along the borders and should stimulate their connectivity in an ecological network. The Balkan states join the initiative in 1999 when the concept of the Balkan Green Belt is conceived. The border mountains of Bulgaria (West Stara planina, Kraishte, Osogovo, Vlahina, Maleshevska, Ograzhden, Belasitza, Slavyanka, Rhodope and Strandzha) represent key elements of the concept. Their conservation and sustainable development will contribute to the implementation of the largest conservation initiative in United Europe.

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