Ecological Network in Bulgaria

Environmental protection with the aid of civil society networking and communication in the problematic areas of nature conservation, pollutant emissions and waste

In Bulgaria numerous NGOs and citizens initiatives work for environmental protection and nature conservation. Up to now, however, the separate activities of the various groups have not been coordinated, and their activities are little known and underappreciated by the general public. The aim of this project is to develop the exchange of information between the environmental NGOs and improve their networking, using new communication platforms to make a significant contribution to improving the effectiveness of the groups' activities in the following problematic areas:

  • Nature conservation areas (infringement of nature conservation guidelines in protected ar.eas),
  • Industrial pollutant emissions (air, water and soil pollution by current or former production manufacturing plants) and
  • Household waste disposal (problems in waster disposal/waste management).

Seven measures are planned in order to achieve these aims:

  • Kick-off conference to network as many actors as possible in the context of the project strategies;
  • EcoWebMap: Development of a Web 2.0 online cartographic portal for visualising environmental problems and environmentally relevant activities of NGOs with the potential to collect and pass on information from as many actors as possible;
  • Cross-sector meeting: Organisation of meetings with representatives of NGOs from other areas in order to identify common aims and potential areas of cooperation;
  • Expert eco-network as a pool of experts on scientific and legal issues who can be consulted quickly in the case of acute threats to the environment;
  • Public hearings for projects with strong environmental relevance;
  • Media appearances as supporting measures to raise public awareness of environmental problems and the activities of the environmental NGOs;
  • Final conference to present and discuss results and to identify potential for continuing and making permanent coordination and communication structures that have proven to be productive.

The IfL's scientific support of networking activities in the environmental sector is part of the Institute's research interest in the production of space in the context of man/nature relationships. The aim is to identify the concepts and preconceptions of man-environment relationships used in the practice of civil society environmental and nature conservation activities as well as the concepts employed at different spatial scales and their aims.

Results/Publications

For the first time ever, the project allowed the different participant groups from throughout Bulgaria to meet and jointly reflect on the topics at hand. They met with the purpose of discussing concrete problems across the different disciplines and to elaborate mutual solution strategies. The foundation and continual development of the expert pool enables the environmental NGOs to react in a timely manner to signals provided by the citizens regarding infringements against environmental legislation. The speedy and appropriate reactions have encouraged the Bulgarian civilian population to commit itself to the problems of environmental protection in a more active and conscious manner. For the first time ever, the development of the online portal Zelena karta provides citizens the opportunity of mutually interacting and cooperating with environmental NGOs and state institutions in the described problem areas. The portal took over the role of a communication platform for the environmental NGOs, by means of which they could directly exchange data and information on their activities in an uncomplicated manner.

The execution of the cross-sector meetings on the problem area of “nature sanctuaries” and the meetings for the natural preserve “Vitoša”, in particular, have provided an invaluable contribution in facilitating the development of a mutual concept for the park’s development. Following these meetings, the legislation for forestry in Bulgaria was amended. The organisation and execution of the planned public hearings have contributed toward improved coordination of the activities between the citizens, NGOs and representatives of municipal administration at a local level. The large number of civil participants and their active participation during the final forum was an indicator of an increased awareness of the Bulgarian civil society.

Ermann, Ulrich / Lazova, Yuliana (2012) : Öko-Netz Bulgarien. Umweltschutz durch zivilgesellschaftliche Vernetzung und Kommunikation in den Problemfeldern Naturschutz, Schadstoffemissionen und Abfall. Osnabrück, Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt. Download

Project information

Project team

Ulrich Ermann; Yuliana Lazova, Vera Schreiner

Cooperation

Vera Staevska, BlueLink Information Network, Sofia; Petko Tzvetkov, Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation, Sofia

Duration of project

03/2011–08/2012

Funded by

Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt

Further information

Ulrich Ermann
U_Ermann(at)ifl-leipzig.de
Tel.: +49 341 600 55-105

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