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Strandja, Bulgaria - Committed to sustainability
The Strandja Nature Park is one of the largest in Europe and is renowned for its gorgeous flora and fauna. At the same time it incorporates existing villages and the everyday life of its local inhabitants in its territory. The park is located in the Burgas region, in south-eastern Bulgaria, with a view on the stunning Black sea coast.
Strandja features a mild climate, a beautiful landscape, a rich history and traditions.
Strandja Mountain stands in the region, with its highest peak which is over 900 meters.
Strandja Nature Park is the largest protected natural area in Bulgaria, established to protect unique ecosystems and their biodiversity and to preserve the folklore, culture and heritage of its villages.
In the park there are 54 species of mammals and 261 species of birds. Strandja is the only Bulgarian territory included in the five priority conservation areas in Central and Eastern Europe. It lies within the second largest bird migratory path in Europe - the Via Pontica.
There are 121 species habitats, and in this respect, the park is one of Europe’s top protected areas. For many years now, the area has received the support of the Swiss government for nature preservation and ecotourism development via the Bulgarian-Swiss Biodiversity Program.
The Sustainable Tourism Project
The Directorate of the park is actively working for the sustainable development of the area, implementing a number of projects that also address the sustainable development of local tourism. For the past 15 years the population in the area has begun looking for alternative sources of income, and currently there are more than 100 establishments that offer accommodation, food and sightseeing in the area. There are guest houses in the villages, as well as small hotels.
Taking into account that these facilities are within the natural park, they should be even more concerned about the environment. By using alternative sources of energy, they are able to reduce their impact on nature. In the last two years, a regional trade mark was developed and launched. The trademark recognizes accommodation providers and other tourism service providers who fulfill the criteria of responsible tourism.
The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) is in partnership with the Bulgarian Social and Environmental Responsibility Center (SERC) in the implementation of the Hotel Energy Solutions pilot phase activities. It is anticipated that the HES pilot destination will build on the existing sustainable tourism initiatives within Bulgaria.
SERC and the Bulgarian government have demonstrated their commitment to sustainable tourism through their partnership with the United Nations Industrial Development Program (UNIDO) on the Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production (RECP) project in Bulgaria. As a direct result of SERC’s activities, 20 Bulgarian experts have been trained on cleaner production (CP) and another 20 in corporate social responsibility (CSR). CP and CSR activities have been implemented in 25 hotels and five tourism-related enterprises from the supply chain in three Bulgarian locations, and stakeholders have been engaged in the promotion of sustainable destination management organizations.
For more information on HES in Strandja:
Chair of the Steering Committee E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org