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Conservation of globally important biodiversity in the grasslands of the Ponor Mountains through support for the traditional local economy (April - December 2005)

Client: Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds funded by UNDP

The project involved the development of a medium sized GEF project proposal. The goal is long-term conservation of the globally important biodiversity of the Ponor Mountains, with a focus on its grasslands as a pastoral ecosystem, by addressing the root-causes of its abandonment and degradation.

Our responsibilities included:
The formation and supervision of teams of biodiversity, socio-economic and dairy and husbandry experts;
The collection and analysis of biodiversity and socio-economic baseline data for the Ponor mountain region;
Detailed assessments of the land tenure situation in the project area through the acquisition of GIS files for the Ponor region from MAF, and the development of associated maps,
The assessment of eco-tourism development potential for the area;
Analysis of the current status of dairy and husbandry markets and market barriers;
Identification of potential key project partners among the local stakeholders;
Data collection and analysis of project replication potential in two other future Natura 2000 areas sites - Kamenski Rid, near Sliven and Bessaparski Hills, near Pazardjik;
The development of monitoring systems to measure the effectiveness of project outcomes towards reaching the biodiversity conservation objectives of the Ponor Natura 2000 site;
A feasibility study on the establishment of a municipal business/information centre;
A survey of the existing in-country certification schemes for food and tourist products for the benefit of local economic development,
The development of a Public Awareness Strategy.