Drawing up a Management Plan for Balgarka Nature Park

Drawing up a Management Plan for Balgarka Nature Park
Site: Balgarka Nature Park (surface area 21 772,16 ha)
Most of the Park’s territory falls within Balgarka NATURA 2000 site (BG0000399), subject to protection under Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC and Birds Directive 2009/147/ЕС

Subject: Drawing up a Management Plan for Balgarka Nature Park, implementing public consultations, participating in the legal procedures, as stipulated by the Protected Areas Act, part of the Plan adoption process.
Protected natural areas cover only 5% of Bulgaria’s territory. This small percentage includes all nature reserves and protected sites, the 3 national and the 11 nature parks. These natural areas preserve some of the most valuable specimens of the natural heritage, rare and protected plant and animal species, landscapes, natural monuments and landmarks as well as cultural heritage.

According to the Bulgarian and the international legislation, protected areas’ management plans are the most important planning documents, setting the goals for proper management and further sustainable development of the areas for the next 10-year period.

Sterna consult, WWF, and Marsilea, as members of “Balgarka 2013” Consortium, were assigned the development of the first Management Plan for Balgarka Nature Park.

We had to gather necessary information and prepare descriptions, analyses, and assessments of the climate, geology and geomorphology of the park’s territory, also including hydrology and hydrobiology, soils, ecosystems and biotopes, vegetation, flora and fauna, land-use patterns applied within the Park and in the adjacent territories, cultural and historical heritage, landscape, etc. The team completed assessments of the environmental and the socio-economical aspects and the potential value of the Park.

Following the implementation of more than 30 consultations with key stakeholders, the sociological survey carried out by ALPHA Research in the territories of the municipalities of Gabrovo, Tryavna, and Maglizh, as well as the additional public consultations, we developed the Park’s long-term management goals, regimes and uses and the territory zoning, identified the development priorities, elaborated 10 programs and more than 100 project ideas, which could be used by the Park Directorate, the municipalities, the Regional Inspectorates of Environment and Water, the forest boards, as well as other stakeholders when applying for funding to national and EU funds and programs.

The team developed numerous thematic maps and compiled a GIS geodata base, containing information gathered during the field studies and research on biodiversity, forests, water, soils, tourist infrastructure, road infrastructure, buildings and facilities, cultural and historical heritage, etc.
In addition, the team developed an Interpretation Program related to the biological diversity and the cultural and historical heritage to meet the needs of the Park Directorate.
The Nature Park is situated in the central part of Bulgaria, comprising the most preserved Beech ecosystems and landscapes, typical of the Central Balkan Mountains. It covers the ridge and the northern slopes of the Shipchenska and Trevnenska Mountains and parts of the adjacent Fore-Balkan. The territory includes the sources of the Yantra River and the main tributaries along its upper section. The park comprises settlements located within the municipalities of Gabrovo, Tryavna and Maglizh. "Hr. Smirnenski" dam falls within the boundaries of the Park as well.

The major goal of the nature parks’ management plans is to provide sustainable management of the protected area by preserving nature and landscape, securing well-balanced use of the recreation potential and the natural resources of the territory, and establishing the Park as a socio-economic factor for regional development.
This Management Plan is intended to secure sustainable conservation and management of the biological and landscape diversity of Balgarka Nature Park during the following 10-year period.