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Bulgarian Cabinet Stumbles over Natura 2000

Date: 22.12.2006

Bulgarian ministers put off the final decision on the country's lands to be included in Europe-wide Natura 2000 environmental network.

Expectations were that at Thursday's session the cabinet will consider all blueprints submitted by local mayors and approved by the Environment Ministry.

However, it was immediately clear what triggered the postponement of decision. While the ministers held a session, yet another protest went on down on the street.

According to National Ombudsman Ginyo Ganev, the main problem concerning the adoption of Natura 2000 map derives from the scarce informational campaign on the benefits and consequences within the initiative.

Owners of lands along the Black Sea coast have went out onto the streets protesting a decision turning their property into eco-protected areas. The proprietors want their private property remain untouched and complain nobody consulted them when mapping out Bulgarian zones to be added to NATURA 2000.

Owners of such lands will be compensated with up to EUR 60 per decare, the Agriculture Ministry has explained. But the fact that such funds will be accessible through application to SAPARD-sponsored measures raises doubts in the efficient of allocated funds.

According to EU-sponsored NATURA 2000 network project, large flora and fauna habitats on and near the Black Sea coastline, will be protected from destruction by limiting any construction activities on them.

Bulgaria, which is getting ready to celebrate 1 January 2007 EU membership, must compile a list of the best wildlife areas containing the habitats and species listed in this Directive. The lists will then be submitted for approval to the European Commission.

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