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First visit of UNESCO experts to Central Balkan Biosphere Reserve

28 March 2023
The first expert visit to the Central Balkan Biosphere Reserve took place within the framework of UNESCO's Earth Network institutional support initiative. The Central Balkan National Park Directorate has been approved for participation in the programme, which provides expert assistance to increase the capacity of administrations of biosphere reserves and parks, global geoparks, and other UNESCO designations.
The Park Directorate has been chosen to receive support in organizing the coordinating body of the Central Balkan Biosphere Reserve, in which the 5 municipal administrations from the transition zone of the Biosphere Reserve and the Executive Forestry Agency are also represented. The mission in the Central Balkan envisages three one-week visits by up to three international experts with experience in managing similar sites.
During the past week, Petr Chupa Deputy Director of the Lower Morava Biosphere Reserve, Czech Republic, got acquainted with the characteristics of the Central Balkan Biosphere Reserve, with the conceptual proposal for a management body for coordination of the joint initiatives of the responsible administrations, with part of the partner network of Biosphere Reserve. At a meeting with the partners, he presented the main possible management models for sites of the Central Balkan Biosphere Reserve rank, emphasized the models with the participation of as many interested parties as possible and presented the good practices in the Czech biosphere reserve. Mr. Chupa has over 20 years of experience in the field of joint management of the Lower Morava Biosphere Reserve and was a participant in the difficult process of creating its coordinating management unit.
The full functioning of a biosphere reserve depends to a large extent on the creation of a management structure based on the goal of creating a sustainable development model while taking into account the interests of all stakeholders. Our legislation does not provide for specific organization and management of these territories (as is the case in many other countries), which gives scope for the initiative of newly created partnerships between local communities and state institutions of different ranks.
The organization of the coordinating body of the Central Balkan Biosphere reserve requires a new level of cooperation (beyond the usual duties) of 5 municipal administrations, the Executive Forestry Agency and the Central Balkan National Park Directorate  the seven administrations that created and signed the nomination Biosphere Reserve file. The efforts of the Ministry of Environment and Water and the Central Balkan National Park Directorate are aimed at organizing such a joint management approach. A draft management model was developed to be implemented jointly by the seven partners. It is expected that with the support of experts from the Earth Network programme, this project will be developed and improved so as to find the formula for the most effective legitimate governing body of the new opportunity for cooperation for the benefit of local communities, called Central Balkan Biosphere Reserve.
We remind you that following a decision taken at the 29th session of the International Coordinating Council for UNESCO's "Man and the Biosphere" Program (MAB ICC), held in the period June 12  15, 2017, 4 Bulgarian biosphere parks have been announced  Central Balkan, Chervenata skala, Srebarna and Uzunbudzhak. This decision made it possible for Bulgaria to continue its participation in the Programme, which changed its focus from strict nature protection to the harmonious interaction between man and nature. Besides being among the first countries in the world to actively participate in the construction of the network of biosphere reserves, Bulgaria is also among the countries with the most representative components. Today we have the opportunity and the challenge to model the new network of biosphere reserves in a way that, in addition to ensuring the preservation of our natural heritage, will provide direct and tangible benefits to the local communities that supported the nomination of the sites in 2016. More information about the Central Balkan Biosphere Reserve can be found here.