Civil society participation for sustainable mountains


The project involves the civil society of the most vulnerable and poor regions in Bulgaria – the mountains, in discussions and initiatives towards sustainable development and nature protection in these regions. The territorial scope of the project includes parts of Southwest Bulgaria – mountain regions from the West Aegean River Basin (Struma and Mesta) and parts from the East Aegean River Basin (West Rhodopi). These are regions where civil society’s awareness about sustainable development is low. Development of strategic plans and other policy documents related to economic planning follows the top-down approach without any civil society participation and consideration of sustainable development principles. The latter is the main reason for ongoing depopulation of the region and for local economic activities that destroy the regions’ natural resources without bringing any added value for the local population.

In order to overcome these problems the project partners – BALKANI Wildlife Society as Executing Agency (EA) and the local partners – Bikearea Association – Velingrad Branch and Fishermen Society Balkanka – 2009 initiated broad public network engaging both active citizens and experts at local and national level. Active discussions related to development of plans, programs and projects in the field of forestry, water and territorial planning were organized. As a result of the discussions, opinion statements and civil proposals on important strategic documents were developed. The project included also advocacy campaigns and local civic support for the developed statements and proposals.

Project activities:

  • Forming 10 groups of local supporters, united in and supported by a common national network (as mountain resources are a national treasure whose value needs recognition by the society as a whole).
  • Information regarding natural resources in the mountain areas collected, analysed and made available to the public (through social networks, live meetings, etc.).
  • Organised public discussions, based on the information provided (through a dedicated internet platform – and live meetings in the areas of activity of the 10 local groups).
  • Development of expert civil proposals and advocacy, including active work with the institutions.


  • Capacity building for environmental NGOs and civil society groups through creation of supporters network.
  • Development of innovative and sustainable model for information sharing and civil society participation in natural mountain resources management and creation of tools to implement the model.
  • Better understanding and solutions to local problems related to management of forest and water resources and spatial planning in disadvantaged mountain regions.

 The project developed working model for sustainable management of natural resources in Bulgaria with active civil society participation in accordance with the Aarhus Convention principles, contributing to better consideration of environmental and social issues by the development and implementation of sector policies, strategies, action plans, programs and projects, in the context of sustainable development.



Executing agency: BALKANI Wildlife Society Association,;

Address: 93, Evlogi and Hristo Georgievi Blvd., 1000 Sofia, Bulgaria

Tel.: +359 2 963 14 70

E-mail address:

Project manager: Mr. Andrey Kovachev


  • 10 local groups operating: Sofia, Devin, Smolyan, Sandanski, Velingrad, Dupnitsa, Oshtava-Kresna, Rakitovo, Petrich, Plovdiv.
  • 27 motivational meetings and trainings for civil participation.230 citizens participated in trainings / meetings at local level.
  • Presentations at 20 different events with at least 659 people attracted.
  • 2 motivational and training national camps with 91 participants held.
  • 8102 likes (Facebook –, 142 subscribers (YouTube –, 1227 subscribers (MailChimp).
  • 70784 people reached with the movie “ZaPirin” ( produced in January 2015.
  • 17087 views of Prozrachni planini YouTube channel content.
  • 102 motivated volunteers participated in the activities for the project duration.
  • 434 people participated in the development of civil proposals.
  • More than 22600 people signed the petitions about forests, protected areas and waters the project initiated.
  • 138 articles published in the blog ( 158 comments on the articles.
  • 8 discussions held through the project web platform ( with 81 comments.
  • 5 live stream discussions, 17 own videos, 10 recordings of the live streams uploaded in the YouTube channel with 346 comments (videos and live stream discussions).
  • 202 people registered in the web platform.
  • 20 information stands, discussions, presentations held with at least 802 people participating.
  • At least 45 presentations of civil proposals made to institutions.
  • 47 NGOs active in the process of adopting better management plans of protected areas, river basins, forestry and municipality master plans.
  • Civic proposals on 18 management plans submitted to the responsible institutions.
  • 35 experts in the fields of biology, protected areas, mountaineering, tourism, forest management, water management, GIS, sociology involved in the project.
  • 12 overall analyses – Petrich, Rakitovo, Velingrad, Trigrad, Dospat, Devin, Buinovo, Arda, Sofia, Kresna, Dupnitsa, Sandanski.
  • 2 socio-economic researches done.
  • 3 sociological researches done.


The project contributes to the objectives of the Reform Fund Linked to Civil Society participation by involving the civil society in environmental policy making in the geographical scope of the project. The integration of natural resources conservation and the needs of local communities in various sectoral policies with broad participation of the civil society in the processes of decision making will contribute to the long-term sustainability of the project outcomes at the level of policies. The project met all the five objectives of the Block Grant Scheme: 1) Contributed to enhancing the organisational capacities of the participating CSOs, in pursuing their missions and activities by delivering quality services, particularly in disadvantaged regions. 2) Strengthened the abilities of the CSOs and their networks to communicate with citizens and mobilise civic support. 3) Made efforts towards improvement of the legal framework for organised civil society activities. 4) Activated citizens’ participation in public decision- and policy-making processes at central and local level. 5) Contributed to increasing the capacity of the CSOs to monitor compliance of public institutions with prevailing policy context.

Bikearia Association, Velingrad; Balkanka 2009 Fishermen Assicoation, Blagoevgrad