Bulgaria Migrants: Failing to Protect Europe's Feathered Friends
Bulgaria has been criticized more or less constantly since joining the EU in 2007 for a variety of issues ranging from corruption to rubbish collection. The latest warning from Brussels however doesn’t just affect the people of Bulgaria but instead it challenges the country to improve protection measures for over half a million of Europe’s feathered friends.
The European Commission sent a first written warning to Bulgaria for systematic failure to provide adequate protection for its bird sites, on Thursday. The Commission further reported that they have received a number of complaints about on-going tourist, urban infrastructure and wind farm developments in different areas for bird protection throughout Bulgaria.
The amazing fact is that Bulgaria is important to the survival of the majority of Europe’s migratory birds. Indeed Bulgaria lies along two major bird migration routes, the Via Pontica and Via Aristotelis. Thousands of White storks, White pelicans, Honey and Common buzzards, hundreds of eagles, harriers and falcons and almost all European species of shorebirds pass through the country in Spring and Autumn every year on route to sunny winter holidays or the serious business of nest building.
The Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB), alongside their BirdLife partners, have been working tirelessly to protect Bulgaria’s native and migratory birds for many years and at last their calls have reached the EC offices.
The BSPB and BirdLife have notified the European authorities of Bulgaria’s failure to safeguard areas eligible for protection under the Birds Directive and to properly assess the cumulative effects of the numerous authorized plans and projects on the environment and on bird habitats and species, on a number of occasions over the past 2 years and they have finally been listened to.
One of the high profile cases has been the construction works at Kaliakra, on the Black Sea Coast. The BSPB have reported that the site is under direct threat from hundreds of developments including several proposals for tourist developments – hotels, summer villages and golf courses - and from proposals for 28 wind farms with a total of 200 turbines – posing a massive threat to the thousands of birds that fly through the area every year and to the globally threatened Red-breasted Goose (Branta ruficollis) which over winters at the site.
Some people may be thinking “well Bulgaria has many more important things to worry about than a few ‘flying rats’” – they are seriously wrong. This does not just involve ranting ecologists wanting to push themselves into the limelight – it also involves the very ecosystem that we all live in being damaged and millions of eco-tourist leva being washed down the drain. Bird tourism involves non low-budget tourists being attracted to Bulgaria, which is usually regarded as a low-budget tourist destination!
This is obviously a problem that every European has the right to criticize Bulgaria on. The EC was developed with the aim to improve the life of all its citizens, including its feathered ones, so by urging Bulgaria to move in the right direction on this issue, it is showing its worth. This is certainly one reason that Bulgarians will be eternally grateful to the EU - for intervening to stop short-term greed leading to long-term damage yet again.
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