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Dutch Trouw Daily on the Eastern Rhodopes and New Thracian Gold

An enormous diversity of plants and animals – 70 per cent of all European raptors live here, there is no place in the continent with so many different reptiles, those who like wild flowers are fascinated here.

This is the description of the Eastern Rhodopes in a nutshell made by the journalist Petra Vissers in her article for the Dutch Trouw daily published on July 4. Petra was in the group of the Dutch journalists who visited the Eastern Rhodopes in June on the invitation of the New Thracian Gold (NTG).

The article reports about the project efforts to bring back into the nature extinct large herbivores as the the tarpans, the wild horses that since September 2011 live in the area of the abandoned     village of Sbor, Krumovgrad Municipality. The tarpans are very popular, the article notes.

During the Tarpan days in spring, many people came to see them – tourist from all over the country, but also from abroad. The project contributes to the organic farming, too – helping the local farmers, supporting them for getting European subsidies and to associate in small cooperatives. This year, the first wine form organic grapes in the Eastern Rhodopes won first prize at a Bulgarian wine exhibition. The ambitions of the project are to make the Eastern Rhodopes a popular tourist destination for nature lovers. The aim is not the mass tourism, the article writes. With trainings and little financial support local people are stimulated to open their houses to guests as B&B. “We want to attract people who like to be in contact with the their Bulgarian hosts, tasting the local dishes and culture”, Mihaela Kircheva, NTG coordinator on ecotourism explains.

Ecotourism is the future of this region, say two 19 years old local guys Radoslav Petkov and Ivan Nechevski with whom the journalist spoke.

For further development of the region after the project ends in 2014 New Thracian Gold has nominated the Eastern Rhodopes for Rewilding Eurorpe. This is an Europe wide initiative aiming at one million hectares of abandoned agriculture land to be turned into wilderness by the year 2020. The Eastern Rhodopesis nominated in the shortlist and NTG project leader Frank Zanderink is optimistic for its chances: “The combination of nature and tourism we are focusing on , is an example for other regions. I would be very surprised, if we woudn’t be selected”.

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