Save Kresna Gorge

Campaign description

Save Kresna Gorge

Local people and NGOs propose alternatives for Struma Highway outside the Kresna Gorge in Bulgaria

Since 1997 the Save Kresna Coalition has been campaigning to save the Kresna Gorge, an 18-kilometer stretch of the Struma River with more animal species than almost anywhere in Europe. All lots of the Struma Highway north and south of the gorge have been built or are under construction and the campaign aims for a bypass of the Gorge preserving the Struma River, the cliffs, forests and agriculture […]

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Since 1997 the Save Kresna Coalition has been campaigning to save the Kresna Gorge, an 18-kilometer stretch of the Struma River with more animal species than almost anywhere in Europe. All lots of the Struma Highway north and south of the gorge have been built or are under construction and the campaign aims for a bypass of the Gorge preserving the Struma River, the cliffs, forests and agriculture lands. The proposed alternative would leave the existing road for local people and tourists and solve road security problems. Many interesting projects are also developed by NGOs in the area: environmental education, organic farming, large carnivores conservation centre, vultures reintroduction. 

 

The campaign includes activities for raising awareness on all levels – from local community to the Bulgarian government, searching for the support of the European Commission, European Parliament and international organizations. The Save Kresna Coalition also develops alternative route designs, carries-on scientific studies and creates sustainable development plans for Kresna and Simitli municipalities, as well as proposes new protected areas. 

In 2007 local people, road authorities, NGOs, representatives of the European Commission and relevant ministries agreed on a specific route for the Highway outside of the Kresna Gorge. This agreement was the result of an Environmental Impact Assessment approved by the Minister of Environment and Waters. The agreed route envisaged the construction of tunnels to avoid direct passing through the Gorge. Since then Bulgarian authorities have been constantly postponing the design and construction of the tunnels.

In 2014-2015 Bulgarian authorities, under the pressure of construction companies, declared the tunnels unfeasible and made a new proposal for the highway through the gorge, violating several EU Directives. In 2020, though, the government withdrew its application for funding from the EU for this lot. Currently NGOs are once again trying to convince Bulgarian authorities and European Commission that respecting the environmental law has no alternative and the Struma Highway should pass outside the Kresna Gorge. 

 

Meanwhile local people from Kresna have started protesting and are planning a local referendum that would save the gorge and the town. 

 

The Kresna Gorge is the best place for whitewater rafting in Bulgaria and a prime area for bird-watching and butterfly-watching. It is a Natura 2000 site of European importance and a proposed protected area. In the nearby village of Vlahi autochthonous  breeds of sheep, goats, horses and dogs are raised. In the village there is a Large Carnivore Conservation Centre and an environmental education school.

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Photo and video reporting and journalism
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General on-site help Urgent
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Participation in actions, transportation of people and materials, participation in biological surveys and provide help to local people
Hydrologist, geologist, geographer and GIS expert
Tourism expertise and development of alternative proposals for socio-economic development

Languages we speak

  • Bulgarian
  • English
  • Russian

What we do

What we offer to volunteers

  • Accommodation
  • Mineral waters
  • Trekking
  • White-water sports (rafting, kayaking)

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  • Petition We call upon you to ensure that European laws for the protection of nature are respected and the pristine valley of Kresna Gorge in Bulgaria is saved from destruction. In particular, we demand that the European Commission refuses to release any subsidies for the construction of a major motorway, which would cut through the […]

    Apr 8, 2020 4 months ago
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