Environmental groups challenge European
Commission to take legal action against Bulgarian government over depletion of
key wildlife site Kresna Gorge
Lawyers and environmental groups have today challenged the European Commission to take
legal action against the Bulgarian government over a shocking depletion of
wildlife in a key EU-protected nature site, Kresna Gorge.
A new scientific analysis reveals that protected
bats have fallen by 92%, endangered tortoises and snakes by 60%, and some vertebrates
may now be extinct in Bulgaria’s natural wonder, Kresna Gorge. This has been
caused by an increase of lorries and cars in the nature haven, driving between
two sections of a new EU motorway built up to either end of it.
The evidence by top Bulgarian scientists
is included in a complaint against Bulgaria’s government to the European
Commission and its Vice President Frans Timmermans, filed today by CEE
Bankwatch, ClientEarth, Friends of the Earth Europe, and Za Zemiata. The
complaint details violations of the EU Habitats Directive during the
construction of an EU funded motorway, which is leading to the unprecedented
deterioration of natural habitats and the disturbance of key wildlife – such as
protected bats, snakes and tortoises.
Desislava Stoyanova, campaigner for Za
Zemiata/Friends of the Earth Bulgaria said:
“Bulgaria is blessed with extraordinary
and irreplaceable nature like in Kresna Gorge, but it is being decimated at an
astonishing rate. Cars and lorries are daily massacring rare wildlife in the
nature reserve and there has been a complete failure of the government to stop
this. It’s essential that the European Commission starts immediate proceedings
to stop the destruction of our nature – traffic must be routed away from this
Ewelina Tylec-Bakalarz, wildlife lawyer
for ClientEarth, said:
“It’s unacceptable that Kresna Gorge’s
unique wildlife is being destroyed, in breach of European law, by the
authorities obliged to protect it. If the EU Commission does not take action,
the situation could reach a tipping point where there will be no wildlife in
the Gorge left to protect.”
Kresna Gorge, a narrow river valley in
south-west Bulgaria, has been classified an exceptional European natural
hotspot due to its unique abundance and diversity of wildlife – it has the
highest concentration of biodiversity in Bulgaria and the Natura 2000 site is
inhabited by 92 protected species. The Gorge faces
ruin by planned construction of a pan-European motorway
through it; but already traffic flows have dangerously depleted its wildlife.
#NatureAlert! @TimmermansEU please
Environmental groups today challenge European Commission to take legal action
against Bulgarian government over depletion of key wildlife site Kresna Gorge https://t.co/6dkUhQsRed
— Friends of the Earth (@foeeurope) August
The European Ombudsman has this week
announced an inspection of the Commission’s handing of the Kresna Gorge case.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov on
23 May 2019 indicated that plans to complete the final section of motorway
through Kresna Gorge may be postponed or shelved, but leaving motorway traffic
to continue to damage wildlife through the existing Gorge road.
Responsibility for taking legal action
against Bulgaria will likely fall to the next European Commission.