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Sivosten webZine :: Helping Bulgarian Nature Survive
Helping Bulgarian Nature Survive

Author: Dimitar "Cliff" Stefanov, Tuesday, 25 March 2008.

In Articles :: Publicism; Propose a Second Opinion

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A grey landscape, rotten boughs
Bog, mud, a poisonous breath
An icy wind is chasing thorns
Toward a misty lonely peak

It\'s gonna be too late!
Too late!
Too late! Too late! Too late!*

Mountains are magical places. They are where we discover answers about ourselves who we are, where we come from, where we are going... In the city, people hide behind all sorts of masks and treat others with suspicion; while in the mountain strangers greet one another with a friendly smile. For all of our hiding behind concrete walls we are still one with nature. Yet, it is very hard to feel this harmony in the city. That is why whenever I pass by Sunny Beach, Pamporovo, Borovets and other such resorts I try to leave them behind as quickly as possible. It is wonderful nature overbuilt in such a dreadful way. Indiscriminate felling, high-rise hotels, dust-choked roads, ready-mix trucks this is all I see, instead of the pine forests, clean beaches and smiling people that used to be here before the fellows with the briefcases of money came...

But let\'s leave that aside and talk about Strandja. The Strandja Nature Park was declared in 1995 and is the largest protected territory in Bulgaria, with an area of 1,161 sq. km. Or at least it used to. Recently, on June 29th, 2007, Resolution 6794 ruled on Administrative Case No 12376 of 2006. A jury of three from Bulgaria\'s Supreme Administrative Court declared void the Minister of the Environments Ordinance No 6794 from January 24th, 1995. The ordinance had designated the Strandja Nature Park on an area of 116,136.2 ha on the grounds of Art. 17 and 22 of the Environment Protection Act (rescinded). When I saw the news, I didn\'t want to. I could not believe this was actually happening! Two judges deciding the fate of Bulgaria\'s largest park (here is the place to thank Judge Yuliya Kovacheva for opposing the ruling). The mountain where over 50% of the higher plant species in Bulgaria occur, one of the least urbanized mountains in the country that still shelters wild animals more than 65 mammal species, with 6 listed in the Red Book of endangered species. The place over which passes Via Pontica, the second largest route of migratory birds in Europe... This mountain, it is gone? Buried by our greed for huge constructions and swift profits? Buried by our unconcern? They must indeed be blind if she did not see what was happening.

And then a ray of hope appeared. A faint one, hardly shimmering, but there it was! Just a few hours after the insane ruling there emerged a response: SAVE STRANDJA. The site invited anyone who disagreed with what was going on to gather and voice their stance on the issue. The first act of civil disobedience in Bulgaria since quite a while ago...

Friday, June 29th, 19:30, the Popa crossroads in Sofia. A favorite rendezvous, yet this time it was an uncommon meeting. About two or three hundred people, some wearing ‟Save Strandja T-shirts, some carrying posters, made their stand with neither organizers nor protest permit. We took half an hour to gather and then spread out to block all traffic within Popa. We only let the ambulances pass. We sang the song of Strandja Mouintain. We chanted, we shouted... Police officers arrived and started looking for the organizers, all in vain. After some twenty minutes we released the traffic, only to block it again half an hour later. The third blockade for the evening took place at the Pette Kyosheta crossroads. There were no clashes between protesters and police. Everything was conducted peacefully and politely. I hope that people in the cars caught by the traffic jam have found out why we gathered. There was some media present, but as far as I know no scenes from the event were ever broadcast. Right, what does it matter to the public what\'s going on with our nature? There is so much else that is more important to fill the programs with...

A clear moon is already rising
over the green forest.
All over Strandja slaves start singing
a new heroic song. **

Monday, July 2nd, 19:30 at the Orlov Most (Eagle\'s Bridge) crossroads. There were as many people as on Friday. We sang, danced to the beating of a traditional drum, there was a sitting protest and activists with posters and hand-clapping when the police arrived. This latest blockade went on for 20-30 minutes. Then, we gathered on the sidewalk; both the drum and the clapping carried on. The police were again polite and calm, as were we, but this time there were arrests. Unfortunately, I was far from the arrested people and didn\'t see what happened that had triggered the arrests, but at least five people were put into a van and taken off to a police station...

I truly hope that we will keep growing in numbers because obviously this is the way to achieve something in Bulgaria; through a direct demonstration of strength. Remember how the taxi-drivers who blocked Sofia\'s center without a permit got what they had gathered for. I\'m convinced that if our protests grow larger and every day more and more of us show up, politicians, judges and even investors are going to give up. Because it\'s truly impossible to stand against people united by a common cause!

I ask you to recall the Native American saying that we do not inherit the land from our fathers; we borrow it from our children. It\'s up to us and no-one else what world they are going to live in. So when the time for our next protest comes, do join us, it\'s important! We are helping Bulgarian nature survive.

* Lyrics from \"The City\" by Bulgarian music band \"Er Malak\".
** An excerpt from a traditional folk song..
Translated by Kalin Nenov

Commentary topic: http://www.sivosten.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=201466#p201466

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