Thematic Environmental protection and management 2018-06-13T09:04:30+00:00

PROTECTING THE VULNERABLE ECOSYSTEMS OF BULGARIA

Sirma Asenova Zidarova is an ecologist with the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research in Sofia. She has been part of a team of ecologists and zoologists mapping unprotected ecosystems and their services in Bulgaria.
Many ecosystems are protected under the EU’s Natura 2000 network, yet the majority are unprotected and vulnerable to change. Of Bulgaria’s entire territory, about 34% is designated as Natura 2000 areas. The mapping of the unprotected ecosystems undertaken in the Bulgarian biodiversity programme has enabled Bulgaria to assess its conditions. One of the main achievements of this project, supported by the EEA Grants 2009-2014, is the development of an assessment that now forms part of the basis for Bulgaria’s natural resource policies in the future. Moreover, the assessment will be used in an upcoming project on ecosystem valuation as part of compliance with the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy of 2020.
Read more interesting stories from the projects we have funded in the environmental sector.

WHAT IS THE ISSUE?

Europe’s ecosystems, species and natural resources are under threat from pressures such as overexploitation of resources, habitat change and pollution. Even though the potential environmental and economic impact is not evenly distributed in Europe, it will affect all of us.
Nearly two-thirds of the habitats and species protected by the EU Habitats Directive are in ‘unfavourable’ conditions1.The declining state of ecosystems negatively affects the quality and availability of nature-based benefits such as clean air, water and food. Climate change further weakens ecosystems and their benefits through drivers such as acidification and droughts. This decline in ecosystem services affects human health and wellbeing.2 3
The EU aims to halt the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services by 2020. The establishment of the Natura 2000 network of protected areas and the reduction of point source pollution are some of the most important achievements so far. However, many challenges remain – including the urgent need to improve the integration of EU environmental legislation in sectoral policies and strengthen its enforcement at local and regional level.

1.European Environment Agency (2016)
2.Eurostat: Agriculture, forestry and fisheries statistics (2017)
3.European Environment Agency report on Air quality in Europe (2017)

WHAT HAVE WE ACHIEVED?

In the past years, more than €160 million in funding from the EEA Grants have increased the competence and capacity of relevant institutions and strengthened the knowledge base for the sustainable management of natural resources.
Furthermore, the projects we have supported have implemented concrete measures across the beneficiary states, such as restoration of wetlands, development of data monitoring systems for species and habitats, and development of monitoring plans and programmes.
See our Data and Results Portal for detailed breakdown of funding across countries.
Read about what will be supported in the environmental sector in the 2014-2021 funding period.