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M-Tel ECO Grant program recovers extinct species and protected areas

M-Tel ECO Grant program recovers extinct species and protected areas

03.09.2009

The five projects funded within the innovative ecological program M-Tel ECO Grant have been extremely successful. Since the beginning of June they have been working actively for conservation and development of Bulgaria’s biodiversity. The good results achieved so far indicate tangible contribution to the preservation of the Bulgarian nature and the prevention of environmental disasters.

“M-Tel rendered crucial assistance to the civil society in their efforts to preserve Bulgaria’s nature. This support made it possible to launch the recovery of the extinct Lesser Kestrel in Bulgaria, to continue the implementation of innovative large-scale actions for environmental education of youth, to prevent the spread of GMOs, and to support the conservation of tortoises, vultures, and other species threatened with extinction”, said Stefan Avramov from the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation, member of M-Tel ECO Grant Evaluation Committee.
Late in July, two Lesser Kestrel pairs – a species that has been extinct in Bulgaria since 1950s, were transported from Germany. The funds granted by M-Tel were used by Green Balkans NGO also for the purchase of two modern incubators to support the breeding of the Lesser Kestrels. The offspring of these protected birds will be released into the wild in a year.

In the period August 5th-9th an “Information Forum” was held in “Batlaboaz” Protected Site on the “Golyam Beglik” dam. The Forum was part of the traditional “Beglika Fest” 2009 and involved a series of exhibitions, lectures, and presentations focused on the Protected Areas in Bulgaria, herbs, forest resources, renewable energy sources, organic products, environmental policies, and eco-settlements. Key persons in the relevant fields were lecturers and presenters. More than 500 people that attended the Forum learnt about the point of designating and maintaining Protected Areas.

Within their project for prevention of the damage caused by GMOs, the representatives of the Environment and Sustainable Development Center in Varna provided four grain samples for testing. The grain was tested for GMO at the independent laboratory of SGS Bulgaria in Varna. This laboratory is Bulgaria’s only facility accredited for dioxin analysis of food. The laboratory tested 9 kg of corn randomly taken from the regions of Targovishte, Shumen, and Dobrich, as well as one kilo of rape from the region of Targovishte. The analysis detected GMO in the corn from the region of Shumen.

Another success was the summer conservation working holiday entitled “NO waste in the Arda River” in the town of Madjarovo, Nature Information and Conservation Center Eastern Rhodopes, organized by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB). The camp gathered more than 50 participants of various ages and regions, as many of the activities were related to the cleaning of the river itself and the adjacent areas. The participants took part in other useful activities as well, such as clearing the path to the hide for observation of vultures, placing information sign-boards as well as signs indicating the dumpsites, supplementary feeding of vultures, expeditions for studying dragonflies, etc.
In early September, an information campaign was launched within a project for studying and preserving the tortoises, whose numbers have been declining. “Future for Our Homeland” Society will implement a series of lectures intended for the Roma minority and the children, to refute the myth that the tortoise is a miracle cure for various diseases. They will also explain the main threats leading to the extermination of this protected species, such as burning of stubbles, forest fires, predation of wild boars on juvenile tortoises, collecting of individuals by “nature lovers”, killing of tortoises for food, etc.

The five projects were approved for funding by M-Tel ECO Grant Program in the beginning of June. The Evaluation Committee involved ecologists and public figures. BGN 100,000 was the total budget allocated by M-Tel for the implementation of various projects aimed at preserving particular plant and animal species, or raising the public awareness of hot environmental issues.

Further information about M-Tel ECO GRANT Program as well as summaries of the successful projects are available under “Social Responsibility” at www.mtel.bg.

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