Bulgaria - Contribution to the mid-term review of the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 based on the 5th national report to CBD

To report on progress to the EU 2020 biodiversity strategy, the European Commission extracted relevant information from the EU Member States’ 5th national reports to the CBD. Of the 5 countries which had not finalized their national reports at the time of the synthesis (26th of August 2015), Greece, Malta, Portugal and Lithuania provided information to be included in the synthesis.

The 5th national reports were examined, and relevant information on selected actions under Targets 1-6 of the EU biodiversity strategy was directly copied. Thus, the information presented here is in the original language and wording of the 5th national reports.

The focus was on information that is particular to the respective Member State rather than referencing EU wide information. In addition, only information that is not directly reported to the European Commission by Member States was retrieved from the reports. Each Member State had the opportunity to review the synthesis of its report and to provide additional input. For more information, please view here. The 5th national report for Bulgaria can be downloaded here.

EU target 1

Fully implement the Birds and Habitats Directives

Action 1b: Natura 2000 (and other protected areas)

(Please note that information from member states in relation to EU Target 1a is supplied to the European Commission via other reports. To avoid duplication of reporting, information relating to EU Target 1a has not been included in this report) 

A National priority Action Framework for Natura 2000 in Bulgaria for the period 2014-2020 was elaborated in 2013. It identifies the priority measures to be implemented by 2020 in order to improve the conservation status of species and habitats that are within Natura 2000 network. The document ‘Regimes for Sustainable Management of Forests in Natura 2000’ is elaborated for the forest areas. It outlines the appropriate silvicultural practices for each forest habitat in protected areas with the purpose of preservation and restoration.

Action 1c: Natura 2000 (and other protected areas)

The Biological Diversity Act regulates the procedures for the development of management plans and development pans and projects. The law postulates that any development plans, regional development plans for forest areas, forest management plans and programs, national and regional programs developed under other laws must comply with the management plans of protected sites from Natura 2000 network, as well as with the measures that aim at preventing deterioration of the natural habitats and habitats of species, and of the threats and the disturbance of species for the conservation of which the relevant protected sites are declared.

Management plans of protected areas or Natura 2000 sites have been elaborated and implemented. For 2009-2013 14 management plans were elaborated: five for nature parks, two for managed reserves, two for protected sites and four for reserves.

Altogether 87 terms of references for elaboration of management plans were approved: three for national parks, three for nature parks, 25 for managed reserves, four for protected sites, four for natural landmarks and 48 for reserves.

EU target 2

Maintain and restore ecosystems and their services

A National Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change is in preparation in order to establish the necessary adaptation measures in sensitive sectors to abnormal temperatures in the region and climate zone. The indicator Greenhouse gas emissions (in CO2 equivalent) per capita is used to assess the amount of greenhouse gases (CO2 equivalent) emitted per capita in a given territorial unit (municipality, region, country) and what changes are needed in the regional development policies. A decrease in the partial hydrogen equivalent per capita has been registered in some municipalities for the period 2008–2010.

Within the framework of the National System for Environmental Monitoring is developed and maintained a National Biodiversity Monitoring System, monitoring of forest ecosystems and monitoring of environmental factors – air quality, surface water, land, soil, etc. The indicator Proportion of areas with anthropogenic impact (infrastructure, residential areas, industrial sites) (Fig. 25) is used to assess the degree of anthropogenic pressure, causing degradation of natural habitats and accelerating biodiversity loss, and what changes in regional planning are required. The results show that the areas with anthropogenic impact are 5% of the total territory of the country.

Bulgaria is one of the 28 countries in the European network ‘European Atmospheric Heavy Metals Using Mosses – UN/ECE ICP Vegetation, UK’.

The National Plan for the Protection of the Most Important Wetlands in Bulgaria 2013–2022 includes specific measures for specific wetlands in the country.

Note: Changes in the number and territory of protected areas in the period 1992–2013: light blue – surface area; dark blue – number (Source: EEA/MOEW)

Action 6a: Ecosystem restoration and green infrastructure

The implementation of activities under this objective is fully in line with the operational objective of the National Biodiversity Conservation Plan 2005–2010. According to the Biological Diversity Act Bulgaria is obliged to establish a National Ecological Network that encompasses the Special Areas of Conservations (SACs, under Habitats Directive) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs, under Birds Directive) from the European ecological network Natura 2000 and protected areas that might be or might not be part of the Natura 2000 network. The National Ecological Network gives priority to CORINE sites, Ramsar sites, Important Plant Areas and Important Bird Areas.

A number of activities related to different measures in the National Biodiversity Conservation Plan 2005–2010 have been implemented, e.g. the development of the legal framework, development of plans, strategies and methodologies, monitoring.

Main activities from the measure Restoration and maintenance activities have been conducted, such as:

  • Protection of ecosystems and natural habitats and maintenance of viable populations of species in the natural environment;
  • Restoration of degraded ecosystems and habitats and support for the restoration of the populations of threatened species;
  • Assessment of the conditions in riparian habitats and analysis of the impact on biodiversity of the adjustments of watercourses in the lower parts of the rivers

EU target 3

Increase the contribution of agriculture and forestry to maintaining and enhancing biodiversity

Target 3a: Agriculture

There has been a sustained reduction in grasslands, most of which are semi-natural, and in 2012 the decrease was 4.2% (72 035 ha) compared to 2009.

About 56% of the semi-natural grasslands are owned by the municipalities in Bulgaria.

About 65% of the agricultural land is threatened by water erosion and about 24% by wind erosion.

Target 3b: Forestry

The analysis of the implementation of the Strategic Plan for the Development of the Forestry Sector 2007–2011 in 2012 shows that the implementation of measures and activities dedicated to the conservation of biological diversity, forest reproductive material and forest certification is at good level. Wooded area in Bulgaria has increased beyond the target of 500 ha per year set up in the Strategic Plan. To assess the implementation of the measures related to management activities various indicators have been used – forest area, tree species composition, forest regeneration, etc.

In 2012, the total forest area is 4 163 415 ha, of which 3 795 338 ha forested areas (including dwarf pine 23 953 ha), which represents 34% of the country. Coniferous forests cover an area of 1 113 789 ha (29.5%) and deciduous forest – 2 657 596 ha (70.5%) of the total forest area excl. dwarf pine.

Some unfavourable trends have been registered, e.g. actions to improve forest protection are insufficient, hence more efforts are needed, including new methods to control the effectiveness of protection of forests and wildlife. Note: Total forest area (in ha) according the type of woodlands for the period 2009–2012 (Source: EFA)

Target 3a & 3b

The indicator Ratio between forest, agricultural and urban areas will be used to assess the impact of different types of land use on biodiversity and what part of the forest and agricultural lands are consumed in the process of urbanization, and hence what changes in regional planning are required (Figs. 18 and 19). The indicator shows the relative share of forest, agricultural and urban areas in the total area of the country. The results show that the largest part corresponds to the agricultural land (about 52%), followed by forest areas (about 43%) and urban areas (5%). Source: MRDPW

Action 8a: Environmental public goods in the CAP and GAEC cross-compliance

Two measures have been launched in the Rural Development Program 2007–2013, related to the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable production in agriculture [one measure relevant to this action is]:

- Measure 214 “Agri-environmental payments” was launched in 2008 and it provides financial assistance for the implementation of agricultural activities aimed at improving the environment. A gradual increase in approved applications over the years has been observed, e.g. in 2011 58% more applications were approved compared to 2008. The payments from this measure are in support of high nature value farmlands, which, according to the estimates by the European Environment Agency are 2 578 005 ha.

A National Strategy for Sustainable Development of Agriculture in Bulgaria 2014–2020 has been elaborated. The measures and activities in this sector are funded under the Rural Development Programme 2007–2013 – primarily under Priority Axis 2 – Improving the environment and nature, which includes agri-environmental payments, and payments for Natura 2000 and the Water Framework Directive (for farmlands).

Measure 214 “Agri-environmental payments” was launched in 2008 and provides financial support for agricultural activities aimed at improving the environment. For 2008–2012 9292 applications were submitted of which 8084 were approved with a total value of public spending 50 926 457.14 Euro. Of these, 98.40% (50 115 307.70 Euro) were paid by 01/08/2013.

Action 9a & 9b: Rural development and biodiversity

According to the Forestry Act (2011) the Executive Forest Agency (EFA) implements policies for conservation and sustainable use of forests, promotes innovations in forestry among workers in the sector, forest owners and the public. Companies are due to promote and provide the means and conditions for training of their employees. There is a need to update the communication strategy and plan for public relations, including the necessary means for their implementation. There is a need to strengthen ties with partners and implement more effectively joint media campaigns with NGOs.

Action 10: Agricultural genetic diversity

The conservation of genetic diversity of cultivated plants and their wild relatives, including species with socio-economic and cultural value is carried out mainly by the National Seed Genebank, Institute of Plant Genetic Resources (IPGR) in Sadovo. The Genebank has developed a methodology for long-term storage ensuring the identity of the stored plant genetic resources.

The preservation of forest genetic resources is one of the indicators for sustainable forest management adopted at the EU level. Conservation of forest genetic resources is legally regulated (Section V ‘Preservation and conservation of forest genetic resources’ of Ordinance ? 21 of 12/11/2012 on the terms and conditions for the determination, approval, registration and cancellation of the sources of forestry seeds, the collection and extraction of forest reproductive material, their evaluation, trade and imports). A “gene bank” is planned to be established to preserve forest genetic resources, to carry out monitoring and research, and to timely restore genetic resources that are degraded or destroyed by natural impacts.

Regarding the animal genetic resources ... Executive Agency for Selection and Reproduction in Animal Breeding (EASRAB).

A positive development is registered in tribal farming for the period 2009–2013. The

number of the preserved indigenous +breeds has increased – the number of animals and the farms where they are grown. The number of animals bred by the breeding organizations in the period 2009–2013 has increased, e.g. over 5 times with horses, with 52.5% more cattle, with 22.8% more sheep, with 21.1% more buffalos and with 5.6% more pigs (Table 21). A significant decline was observed in poultry breeding and less in bee-keeping. Along with the increased number of controlled animals increases their productivity, which is a result of the implementation of the existing breeding programs.

EASRAB has started operating an information system for monitoring of the biodiversity of farm animals – EFABIS, which is part of the global network FABISnet.

A 4-year Bulgarian-Swiss project To Link Conservation with Sustainable Rural Development started in 2012 in order to protect rare local breeds. The project will build a web-based information system of the indigenous breeds of farm animals in Bulgaria, as well as a DNA laboratory where 27 Bulgarian rare breeds will be studied. This will help to preserve the genetic purity of the local breeds and will contribute to the improvement of the existing subsidy schemes. Note: Dynamics of animal genetic resources in the period 2009–2013 (Source: EASRAB)

Action 11a & 11b: Forest holders and biodiversity

New tools based on sustainable management of forest ecosystems have been developed in order to achieve a balance between the functions and services of the forests.

LIFE+ Programme of the EU has funded 18 projects in Bulgaria on different topics, each of them including activities related to the promotion of biodiversity and its sustainable use. Of these, 10 projects are managed by NGOs, 4 by national or regional government institutions, one of by a research institution and 3 – by business entities.

Data link: 


Action 12: Biodiversity in forest management plans

The Biological Diversity Act regulates the procedures for the development of management plans and development plans and projects. The law postulates that any development plans, regional development plans for forest areas, forest management plans and programs, national and regional programs developed under other laws must comply with the management plans of the protected sites from Natura 2000 network, as well as with the measures that aim at preventing deterioration of the natural habitats and habitats of species, and of the threats and the disturbance of species for the conservation of which the relevant protected sites are declared.

A new National Strategy for the Development of the Forestry Sector in R. Bulgaria for the period 2013–2020 has been elaborated. It contains four priorities and 20 measures. In implementing the priority of maintaining healthy, productive and multifunctional forest ecosystems, contributing to the mitigation of climate change, are envisaged the following measures and activities aimed at the conservation and sustainable use of forest resources:

  • Increase of woodlands, the tree stock and the carbon stock in forest areas – through afforestation of abandoned agricultural lands, deforested areas, eroded and threatened by erosion areas;
  • Improvement of the forest management – it will help to maintain vibrant and multifunctional forest ecosystems, to increase the productivity of forests, to improve their resistance to diseases, pests, natural disasters and other biotic and abiotic factors;
  • Increasing of the efficiency of forest fire prevention and combating illegal activities in the forests.

EU target 4

Ensure the sustainable use of fisheries resources and ensuring good environmental status of the marine environment

Measures from the programs and strategic plan in the fisheries sector have been implemented. The main strategic goal of the National Strategic Plan for Fishery and Aquaculture 2007–2013 is the sustainable exploitation of fish resources. Measures to meet this objective include: control of fishing activities in order to prevent overfishing and the use of prohibited fishing devices; regulation of catches, fishing effort and fishing licenses; management and adaptation of the fishing effort – through modernization of the fleet and its alignment with the state of fish stocks; by introducing measures for the conservation of fish resources, including the improvement of fishing devices and methods for selectivity in order to use environmentally friendly devices, etc.

The measures from the plan are funded under the Operative Program for Development of the Fishery Sector 2007–2013. By 20.08.2013 the program has funded a total of 134 projects, fully paid are 92 projects with a total value of EUR 22 670 549.44 Euros. The table below presents the measures and activities which have a direct or indirect impact on biodiversity. A total of 152 contracts have been signed. Table 12 showing Measures and activities from the Operative Program for Development of the Fishery Sector 2007–2013 with direct or indirect impact on biodiversity conservation and with contracts signed by 20.08.2013.



Number of projects/ contracts

Funding (Euro)

Axis 1. Measures for adaptation of the Bulgarian fishing fleet

2 990 734

1.1. Permanent termination of fishing

Adaptation of the fishing ship for tourism activities, education or creation of artificial riffs



1.3. On-board investments in fishing ships and selectivity; 06. Equipment for selective fishing

Activities related to selective fishing



1.4. Small-scale coastal fishing

Activities related to reduction of fishing efforts and preservation of resources as well as promotion of the use of technological innovations which do not increase the fishing effort



Axis 2. Aquaculture, inland fishing, processing and marketing of fish and aquaculture products

23,164, 471.90

2.1. Production investments in aquacultures

Diversification of production by using of new species and cultivation of species with good market potential; application of production methods that significantly reduce the negative impact and increase the positive impact on the environment; support for traditional aquaculture activities which allow preservation and development of economic and social aspects and preserve environment; equipment against wild predators and improvement of the conditions of labour and safety



2.2. Aqua-ecological measures

Implementation of aquaculture production methods in favour of the environment and preservation of resources. Compensation payments for fish farms within Natura 2000 within 2 years after the proclamation of the protected areas


No payments

2.5. In-land fishing

Activities related to the reduction of the negative impact and increase of the positive impact on the environment, as well as improvement of the selectivity of fishing equipment



2.6. Investments in processing and marketing of products from fishing and aquaculture

Some activities can be related to biodiversity



Axis 3. Measures of common interest


3.1. Collective activities

Improved management of preservation of resources; promotion of the use of selective fishing equipment and methods



3.2. Measures aimed at preservation and development of the water flora and fauna

Protection or development of the water flora and fauna, for instance through construction of artificial riffs



3.6. Change of use of the fishing vessels

Adaptation of fishing vessels for education, and research in the field of fishery



Axis 4. Sustainable development of the fishery areas


4.1. Financial support for local strategies for development and covering of operational expenses of the




Action 13b: Fish stock management

A Draft Program for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries 2014–2020 was elaborated in 2013.

Action 14a & 14b: Adverse impacts on fish stocks, species, habitats and ecosystems

The National Program for the Sustainable Development of Fish Resources 2008– 2013 includes general measures for conservation, restoration and protection of resources and provides the basis for developing annual programs to support sustainable fish populations and research activities, ensuring effective management of fish resources. Its activities are focused in the following two directions with the corresponding results: ? The control on unregulated fishing, the use of illegal tools of fishing and illegal seizure of natural resources in water bodies is improved; ? Restocking and other activities have been conducted in order to support and maintain stable populations of fish and other aquatic organisms, that are consistent with the results from the research on their state. In terms of fishing restrictions each year a ban on catching fish and other aquatic organisms is being imposed. The restrictions are year-round or during the breeding season of the species in the Black Sea, the Danube and the inland waters in order to protect biodiversity and create conditions for natural reproduction of the populations. A long-term ban on sturgeon fishing is introduced because its populations are in a critical condition – the fishing of the following species is forbidden in Bulgarian waters of the Danube and Black Sea: Acipenser gueldenstaedtii, A. ruthenus, A. stellatus and Huso huso for a period of 4 years from 01/01/2012 (Order, MAF, 20/01/2012). Due to the highly reduced stocks of turbot in the Black Sea the annual catch quotas for the species identified by the Council of the EU for the period 2009–2013 have been reduced from 50 tons to 43.2 tons (in 2009 – 50 tons; 2010 – 48 tons; 2011–2013 – 43.2 tons). Restocking activities in the Danube and other inland rivers were conducted according to the Program in the period 2009–2010 and data are shown in Table 13. After 2010 due to lack of funding the implementation of the Program has been stopped.

Table 13. Restocking of the Danube and the inland rivers until 01/02/2010 within the National Program for the Sustainable Development of Fish Resources 2008–2013 (Source: EAFA).


Averagesingle weight (grams)

Quantity (number of individuals)

Acipenser gueldenstaedtii


10 000

Huso huso



Cyprinus carpio


750 000

Cyprinus carpio


15 000

Ctenopharingodon idella


60 000

Hypophthalmichthys molitrix


20 000

Salmo trutta fario


1 300 000

Salvelinus fontinalis


200 000

Silurus glanis


75 000

Silurus glanis


20 000

Sander lucioperca


22 000

The National Plan for the Protection of the Most Important Wetlands in Bulgaria 2013–2022 provisions a horizontal measure that should be implemented at national level: 71 Control of poaching. Initially, the measure was considered as a specific measure for certain areas, but because of the national dimension of the phenomenon it is finally formulated on a nationwide level. A number of projects have been launched and implemented in order to collect relevant data and support the conservation and management of fish resources. Trawl photos were made in the period 2009–2010 for stock assessment of turbot along the Bulgarian coast of the Black Sea. Trawl photos and stock assessment of turbot in Black Sea Community waters (Bulgaria and Romania) were done in the period 2010–2013. A pilot study on the use of sonar method for the inventory of the resources and distribution of pelagic fish species in certain areas of the Bulgarian and the Romanian coast of the Black Sea Community waters was implemented in 2010. A stock assessment of pelagic fish in Community waters applying the same method was carried out in 2011. Biological and population parameters of economically valuable fish and non-fish resources in the Bulgarian Black Sea coast were measured in the period 2010–2013. To support the implementation of the Action Plan for Sturgeons in the Bulgarian Waters of the Danube River and Black Sea (2004) was launched a project financed by the Operational Programme “Environment 2007–2013” – Implementation of activities of the Action Plan for Sturgeons to improve the status and protect sturgeons in Bulgaria (2012– 2015). The main objective of the project is the conservation of sturgeons in the Bulgarian section of the Danube and improvement of their conservation status by implementing direct conservation measures to strengthen their populations. Among its objectives is the improvement of the existing legal regulations and recommendations for updating the Plan. 

The field studies cover the real breeding habitats, providing a minimum population size for the survival of the species and restoring the natural reproduction, development of tripartite management measures to ensure the reproduction of sturgeon, creating an electronic database and online portal for sturgeon. Bulgaria participates in the project Joint efforts to raise awareness on the overexploitation of the sturgeons populations in the Danube in Romania and Bulgaria (2012– 2015) financed by Life+ Program. The project aims to stop the exploitation of the critically endangered sturgeon species in the Danube River in the region of Bulgaria and Romania and to ensure long-term survival of these species and preserving their natural and high economic value. Bulgaria participates in the Danube Sturgeon Task Force (DSTF) network, and in developing programs for the conservation and restoration of the sturgeon in the Danube “Sturgeon 2020” under the Strategy for the Danube Region.

EU target 5

Combat Invasive Alien Species

A National Strategy and Action Plan for the invasive alien species in Bulgaria need to be elaborated. In the National Report on the State and Protection of the Environment (2012, ExEA) is published a list of invasive and potentially invasive plants, animals and fungi in Bulgaria, but the data are based on studies carried out until 2006. Moreover, these lists are not regularly updated. Measures to mitigate the impact of invasive species are embedded in some sectoral plans and programs. With the active participation of Bulgaria was established the East and South European Network on Invasive Alien Species (ESENIAS, www.esenias.org). The aim of the network is to create a single information portal to facilitate access and exchange of information, identification of new invasive species, assessment and risk management, monitoring and control of the established species, and to enhance cooperation between the institutions, and experts from Southeast Europe working in this field. So far, 12 countries have joined the network. Within ESENIAS and the International Association for Danube Research (IAD) the project Potential Threats to Sustainable Development in the Danube and Black Sea Region: the Danube – a Corridor of Invasive Alien Species (2012–2017) is carried out. The Bulgarian part of the river is/will be monitored each year during the project.

EU target 6

Help avert global biodiversity loss

Action 17c: Drivers of biodiversity loss

Sustainable use of natural resources is envisaged in the Strategy for Development of Research at Sofia University “St. Kilment Ohridski” (2009-2014)

The environment assessment of OP “Regional Development 2007-2013” shows that the measures envisaged support projects that provide implementation of : technology and know-how that does not threaten the environment; water, energy and material saving technologies; creation of green systems subordinated with the existing landscape categories; limitation of dust emission, noise and vibration; compliance with recreation norms and the status of the territory in projects related to the development of tourism and sustainable tourism is preferred, e.g. cultural tourism, ecotourism, rural tourism, spa, etc. The National Plan for the Protection of the Most Important Wetlands in Bulgaria 2013-2022, envisages the introduction of economic mechanisms for the protection of wetlands, inventory and valuation of ecosystem services, introduction of the compensatory mechanisms for the sustainable management of Natura 2000 areas, agro-ecological and aqua-environmental measures in the operational programs for the period 2014-2020, supporting private investments by introducing mechanisms for payment for ecosystems services (direct payments “business-business” or “state-business” subsidies).

Action 18a: Resources for global biodiversity conservation

For the period 2009–2013, Bulgaria implemented policies to increase financial flows and co- financing for projects pertaining to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. The main financial mechanisms used are OPs, Life+ Programme of the EU, 7th Framework Programme of the EU, the Norwegian Programme, UNDP, FM EEA, Scientific Research Fund, Environmental Protection Fund, etc. The following financial resources are reported now:

  • The state budget

NGOs and private donors have reported 538 395 Euro spent for the period 2012–2013.

Action 20: Access to genetic resources and sharing of benefits

Bulgaria fulfils its commitments to the Nagoya Protocol.  Integration of conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in the corporate activities.

At administration level the following is implemented:

  • Meetings with stakeholders in relation to the necessary coordination at national level for the implementation of subsequent obligations;
  • Review of existing national legislation in the field of genetic resources;
  • Participation in the first meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for genetic resources in Montreal, 2011;
  • Participation in the expert meetings of the European Union on issues related to signing, ratification and further implementation of the Protocol.

At the administrative level needs:

  • To continue the consultations with all research institutes, holders of gene banks;
  • To formulate the inter-institutional mechanism and to organize relevant meetings, consultations, identification and appointment of competent authorities for the implementation of the Protocol;
  • To share the degree of responsibility of the relevant national institutions (MOEW, MAF, Patent Office) and their regional structures;
  • To establish checkpoints and monitor the use of genetic resources;
  • To amend the national legislation so that the Nagoya Protocol can be effectively implemented;
  • To ratify the Nagoya Protocol and present a set of documents to the Secretariat of theCBD;
  • Create an information mechanism under the Protocol to the existing Clearing House

Mechanism to the Convention (http://chm.moew.government.bg).

At scientific level is expected:

  • Inventory and cataloguing of genetic resources in the country, development of methodologies and technologies for their conservation and sustainable use;
  • Review and use of existing information and documentation in order to prepare new documents, certificates, contracts to support the management authorities;
  • Scientific papers, studies, databases, maps, visual and video information, environmental and biological descriptions responding to the administrative needs at different stages after the ratification;
  • Development of scientific criteria for valuation of genetic resources in the country.

At the business level are expected:

  • Integration of the requirements set by the Protocol in the activities and business practices associated with genetic resources;
  • Financial support and participation together with the administration and scientific institutions in the assessment and valuation of genetic resources in the country;