World Wetlands Day 2004 -- Bulgaria

16/02/2004

Dear Estelle and Valerie,

On behalf of Green Balkans NGO team, I would like to express our gratitude to you and the Ramsar Bureau for the support you rendered to our organization in the celebration of the World Wetland Day.

The materials you sent were printed and widely disseminated during the campaign organized by Green Balkans referring to the celebration of February 2nd.

Besides the implementation of the Bulgarian Wetland Conservation and Restoration Program, carried out by Green Balkans for more than 15 years, the celebration of the World Wetland Day has been permanently included in the calendar of our activities.

Traditionally, the activities and campaigns we organize related to the Wetland Day start as early as January and culminate on 2 February.

In this regard, this year, Green Balkans' team, volunteers and members organized and implemented successfully the following nature conservation actions and information campaigns (accompanied by illustrative photographs):

In the period 16-18 January, Green Balkans was actively involved in the 28th Midwinter Waterfowl Census in Bulgaria, organized by Wetlands International. More than 100 volunteers and experts of Green Balkans covered over 7000 km on foot or by cars, recorded waterfowls from over 350 observation points and put in over 250 man-days of expert and voluntary efforts. Using standardized methods, more than 70,579 birds of 46 species in over 60 wetlands in the country were recorded. Summarized reports were submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Waters.

During the last two weeks of January, Green Balkans' teams, together with representatives of the Regional Inspectorates of Environment and Waters and the Regional Forest Boards, organized examinations in the wetlands to detect infringements of the nature conservation legislation as well as poaching cases.

Joint press-conference in Sofia, involving the Ministry of Environment and Waters and other NGOs, to present the outcomes of the Midwinter Waterfowl Census.

Information campaigns to popularize the significance of wetlands and the need for their protection and sustainable use.

On 2 February, "Outdoors Workshop" was organized on the pedestrian bridge over the Maritsa River in the town of Plovdiv (the second biggest river in Bulgaria after the Danube). Passers-by were given informational materials on wetlands by Green Balkans volunteers and had the opportunity to observe the diversity of waterfowls that occur along the river at this time of the year, using binoculars and spotting scopes provided by Green Balkans NGO. The citizens of Plovdiv showed extremely intense interest in the event, as the visitors ranged between 7 and 70 years of age.

An Open Doors day was organized at Green Balkans Wildlife Rehabilitation and Breeding Center (WRBC) in Stara Zagora, which has been functioning as a CITES Rescue Center since 2003. WRBC's team and volunteers received organized groups of students and undergraduates and carried out talks and lectures on wetlands and their inhabitants. The visitors received promotional materials on wetlands and were given the opportunity to look at the patients at the Facility. At present, over 80 rare and threatened bird species, including White and Dalmatian pelicans, Red-breasted geese, Mute swans, herons etc., are being treated and recovered by the veterinarian team. Having undergone successful treatment, birds are released back into the wild in their natural habitats.

In the town of Pomorie, Green Balkans' local team organized presentations and lectures on wetlands in a local school. Children were given promotional and informational materials;

On 1 and 2 February, four local branches of Green Balkans organized visits to wetlands and observation of ornitho-fauna with students from the local schools.

Referring to the Wetland Day, on 1 January Green Balkans' volunteers placed an information signboard at the largest roosting site of Pygmy cormorants - situated on the Maritsa River.

Throughout the winter period members and volunteers of our organization implement regular monitoring and guarding of the Pygmy cormorant roosting site (1/6 of the Pygmy cormorant's global population winters in Bulgaria).

Collaboration and partnership with national and local media represents an important part of our work. The actions and campaigns were widely covered and popularized in the electronic media and the press.



Once again, we are expressing our gratitude for your responsiveness and support!

Best wishes for successful cooperation in the future,
Valentina Fidanova
Member of Green Balkans Managing Board

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