Bulgarian nature park threatened by property boom
Wed Jul 4, 2007 10:36AM EDT
By Anna Mudeva
SOFIA – Bulgaria’s Environment Ministry is to fight a Supreme Court decision revoking the protected status of a Black Sea nature park, a ruling which opens the door to the construction of holiday homes.
“We will definitely appeal. We are preparing the appeal at the moment,” a ministry spokeswoman on Wednesday.
Last week the country’s Supreme Court cited irregularities in the way officials originally drew up the boundaries for the Strandja park as the reason for ending the area’s special status.
The decision has drawn ire from a coalition of conservationists and national figures worried Bulgaria’s countryside is falling prey to a property boom fuelled in part by foreign demand for cheap second homes.
“The court’s ruling is yet another farce, which aims to wipe out the protected territories in the name of corporate and private interests,” 17 environment organizations said in a statement.
Earlier this week police arrested 35 people after 200 protestors blocked a major roadway in Sofia to demonstrate over the court ruling.
Municipal authorities in Strandja, on the south-east edge of Bulgaria bordering Turkey and the Black Sea, and a property developer who has illegally built holiday apartments in the region, had challenged the status of the park in court.
Critics said the court ruling not only contained factual mistakes but was also symbolic of the way Bulgaria’s judicial system works. …
“In some cases, the judicial system does not protect the public interest but cares only about corporate interest,” said Toma Belev, head of the Association of Nature Parks in Bulgaria.
Development projects threaten Bulgaria’s largest national park, Rila: here.
A massive expansion of skiing infrastructure is threatening the essence of Vitosha Natural Park, one of Bulgaria’s most famous and popular protected areas, on the eve of it’s 75th anniversary: here.
Bulgarian and Romanian important bird areas: here.