Dear friends, our summer was busy – fieldwork in the mountains, organizing camps in our two educational centers, and a lot of other activities. This is the reason why we are very late to inform you about a piece of BIG news.
In July, the Wolf Action Plan for Bulgaria was officially adopted!
On this occasion, we decided to make a short retrospective on the topic „BALKANI Wildlife Society and the wolf in Bulgaria“ (really the very shortened version).
BALKANI and the wolves from 1992 until now
We have been committed to the study and long-term conservation of wolves in Bulgaria since our beginning as an organization. In 1992, a group of environmental protection organizations, including us (then Zeleni Balkani – Sofia), launched a joint campaign to cancel the order issued by the then Forestry Committee to poison wolves and other predators on a national scale. It was a successful campaign. Four months later, the order was revoked.
In those days, we realized that there is a lot of work to be done in our country for the research and conservation of wolves. Many years followed, in which we learned about them, about the state of their population in our country, and about what needs to be done in order for these iconic animals to be preserved in coexistence with humans. Years of intensive fieldwork, research, working with local people implementing activities to reduce their conflicts with wolves, and educational programs. A Large Carnivore Education Center was also established, where people could receive realistic information about the wolf and the other large carnivores inhabiting our country.
The process of elaborating the Wolf Plan
14 years ago, back in 2008, the moment came to start the development of an Action Plan for the wolf in Bulgaria.
We initiated meetings with all the interested groups: responsible institutions, scientists, conservationists, hunters, foresters, and farmers. A working group was formed to develop the plan. a It was a huge challenge to gather at one table so diverse groups in terms of interests and beliefs and to reach a dialogue. The goal was to reach a consensus on the main points for the long-term conservation of the species, accompanied by minimal conflicts with people.
All over the world, the topic of the wolf arouses divergent opinions, emotions, and, if you will, passions in people. In such cases, a good and experienced mediator is needed to lead the meetings. It was a pleasure for us to work with Prof. Alistair Batt from the University of Newfoundland, Canada, who, in addition to his undoubted qualities as a skilled mediator, has behind him the experience of leading numerous meetings on large carnivores in various European countries. Prof. Bath is also a member of the Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe (LCIE) at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
It was a great honor and success to bring Prof. Luigi Boitani from the University “La Sapienza” in Rome, Italy to one of the working group meetings. Prof. Boitani is Chair of LCIE and one of the leading experts on the wolf, co-author of the famous monograph „WOLVES – Behavior, Ecology and Conservation“ together with Dr. David Meech.
Approval by the responsible institutions
In 2018, the action plan was adopted by the Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW) with a decision of the National Biodiversity Council. The document also needed to be approved by the Executive Forestry Agency (EFA). Well, this is already a fact. This is the place to express our special thanks to the MoEW and EFA teams with whom we worked in 2021/2022, and in particular to the Minister and Deputy Minister of Environment and Water – Borislav Sandov and Toma Belev, to Filip Kovashki – director of EFA, who approved the plan, and to Alexander Dunchev, also a former director of EFA.
Thanks for working together
We would like to thank everyone in the working group who gave their time to participate in the workshops. Thanks to the authors of the texts and to the team that undertook to summarize the decisions of the working group and present them in the form of a finished document.
Now the action plan has to be implemented conscientiously in order to preserve a healthy population of the species in our country, in the coexistence with humans.