The young people of Bulgaria marched for three consecutive days demanding justice and fairness, and the President listened! We have a veto and the Forest Act thus returns to Parliament.
Online campaigning was instrumental, and the support of Avaaz inspired many!
Now we need to observe the parliamentary proceedings carefully in order to ensure that texts that are unconstitutional, go against European law and facilitate deforestation are removed.
Amendments of Bulgaria’s Forest Act,
adopted on 13 June 2012 by the Bulgarian Parliament, will lead to the
plundering of the country’s last significant natural resource - its
forests, including those forming Natura 2000 areas. Concerned
citizens and the coalition of environmental NGOs “For the Nature”
are calling on Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev to veto the
unscrupulous changes and safeguard Bulgaria’s forests. The
environmentalists are also sending a signal to the European
Commission for unauthorized governmental aid to oligarchic corporate
organisations, which the amendments represent.
The new provisions violate the
Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria, as well as European
environmental and competition law. It will allow overdevelopment
and degradation of forests, agricultural lands and protected areas
and over-exploitation of forest resources, with long term
adverse consequences such as habitat loss. Clearing of forests
also adds to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
Specific changes give companies the
right to carry out construction, on land officially designated as
forest, without competition, without a contract, and without
payment of any fees to the state. Abolishing such fees
constitutes unauthorised government aid, while the uncontested
administrative transfer of construction rights constitutes a
breach of competition law and is likely to give businesses with
close ties to the authorities the upper hand in 'bidding' for public
“The amendments of the Forest Act go
against the public interest and contravene EU and Bulgarian
legislation on competition as well as nature protection”, said
Konstantin Ivanov, Head of Communications at WWF Bulgaria. “To put
it simply, the amendments mean further deforestation and construction
works in forests and protected areas. They practically allow for the
construction of ski runs and ski facilities without changing land use
and for the acquisition of building rights on public land without
tender and for an indefinite period.”
A series of protests in the past six
months have demonstrated massive public support for the protection of
Bulgaria’s forests and protected areas. The public outcry,
however, has been ignored by the ruling majority.
We need your help! Stop this injustice!
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