Forestry plan and road construction threaten Bulgarka Nature Park

Environmental NGOs in Bulgaria are concerned about the construction of a new bypass in north central Bulgaria.

Birdwatchers complain about the negative effects of the National Forestry Plan.

Nature Park "Bulgarka" (NPB) is located on the Northern slopes of the Balkan Mountains. Protected under national  legislation and EU Nature Directives, it provides the drinking water for the town of Gabrovo and surrounding areas.  According to WWF Bulgaria this park was designated in 2003 in order to "protect, main and restore natural beech ecosystems" as well as protect many threatened species.

The planned bypass that goes from Turkey to Rumania is going to cross the Balkan Mountains inside a protected area. Despite de fact the investment includes three km tunnel under the Mount of Shipka,  four kilometers bypass will suppose the segmentation of the ecosystem of the Nature Bulgarka Park.  Citizens of Gabrovo and NGO propose other alternatives that avoid the segmentation.

Andrey Ralev from Wildlife Balkani Society and Peter Shurulinkov in collaboration with the Green Balkans Foundation started in NPB an bird exploratory in May 2013. During this exploration they have discovered a high presence of three threaten birds in Europe: white back woodpecker, the red breasted flycatcher and also semi collared flycatcher. Pristine forests are the key for this species, so say these environmentalist that also see a problem in the national planning for the Bulgarian forests.

Red-breasted Flycatcher
(Ficedula parva)
Habitat: Old Forest with diverse species of trees.
Feeding: Insects and other invertebrates from trees.
Last Concern: declining more than 30% in 10 years

Semi-collared flycatcher
(Ficedula semitorquata)
Habitat: Old Forest with diverse species of trees.
Feeding: Insects and other invertebrates from trees.
Near Threatened: moderately rapid population decline

The National Forestry Plan is s a big issue for threaten species inside the park.

Andrey Ralev: "We are in Bulgarka Nature Park, here in North Bulgaria. We have 11 Nature Parks in Bulgaria. We are having big problems with forestry in the Natural Parks. In the BNP many of the old forest are been cut down right now. The Kozie River Valley has some of the animals that are existed in Western Europe. We have bears here, we have wolfs here and last year we found some lynx traces. And right now we are looking for three of the rarest bird in Bulgaria which are white back woodpecker, the red breasted flycatcher and also semi collared flycatcher. All this animals depends on the old trees here and also the dead wood in the forest is important. So we need a forest without much forest activity. It's important to have this reserved areas"

Peter Shurulinkov: "This species of birds are threaten in national, european level and even world level. Specially for semi-collared flycatcher.  Specially they could live only in areas where the amount of dead wood is about at least 7% of the trees, but usually about 10% and more. So such of forest are very rich of cavities, trees with cavities and holes made by woodpeckers and flycatcher nests inside this holes and also woodpecker's.  It is good to have big dead trees that fall and open natural clearings which are quite lightened and rich of flying insects which is the main food for the flycatchers. It could not be compared by the clearings made by foresters because they take all the dead wood.  Specially in the Nature Park Bulgarka the density of this three species are quite high compared to other parks in Bulgarian mountains because still here we have quite big protected areas of forest that haven´t been managed for a quite long time by modern type of forestry.  But the size of such patches have been reduced in the last years and they become more fragmented because the forest activities.  So the biggest problem is to protect these localities and these species from forestry, from planned forestry activities. The main problem is legal forestry which is based on ten years managed plans which are accepted without carrying out of biodiversity and specially bird localities.  They are made, this plans, usually by specialist on forestry with any data about birds other animals."


“Investment proposal for the construction of Road III – 5004 By-pass of Gabrovo and a tunnel under the Mount of Shipka"
Road and tunnel construction, Kozya River Valley
(Bulgarka Nature Park)
Start date: 16 May 2013
Impeller: Road infrastructure Agency.
Founds: 85% EU, 15% national budget

Andrey Ralev: "Behind me is the Kozya River Valley, one of the best reminding parts of the Nature Park. We have a problem here because the Road Agency of Bulgaria wants to build a main road through this valley behind me. This is the main road that goes from Romania to Turkey, from Gabrovo to Kazanlak, is this part of the road. We have proposed, the environmental NGOs, we have proposed an alternative which has 7 km tunnel but really this alternative wasn't evaluated until now and the approved alternative would basically destroy this great part of this pristine valley."

Andrey Ralev. "So basically the european money is used to destroy european habitats: to destroy the habitat of the bear, to destroy the habitat of the wolf, of the lynx, of the white back woodpeckers and soon there will be no more of this rare animals living in the BNP if we don't stop the worse parts of the forestry activities."