Conservation activities initially focused on the Lower Danube and its tributaries, but have expanded into a comprehensive programme that includes work on forest protection and sustainable forestry management (FSC), Protected Areas, freshwater as well as agriculture and rural development. WWF-Bulgaria was established as a registered organisation in 2006 and is a member of WWF-CEE since its foundation in 2020.
The WWF-Bulgaria team in Sofia consists of a group of well-trained scientific experts and is complemented by experts in public policy, legislation, green economy, communication and fundraising and finance & administration.
Bulgaria is one of Europe’s biodiversity hotspots and encompasses three bio-geographic regions: alpine, coastal, and continental. There are 977 habitat types, of these 96 are found only in Bulgaria. The country is among the top ones in Natura 2000 coverage: ca. 34% of its territory. The natural landscape is very diverse, consisting of lowlands, plains, plateaus, river valleys, mountains of varying elevations, and sea coast.
- The Lower Danube in Bulgaria is one of the last free flowing stretches of river in Europe, including islands with remnants of floodplain forests, oxbows lakes, as well as flood channels and depressions, islets, remnants of wetlands and floodplain lakes in the disconnected floodplains. These are all typical habitats for the Lower Danube and of particular importance from an ecological point of view – with many protected under the Ramsar Convention as well as the annexes of the EU Habitat Directive.
- Bulgaria is among the richest European countries in terms of forests. 1/3 of the country’s territory is covered by forests - most are of natural origin and home to 43 globally endangered animal and plant species. Only 4% are virgin forests.
- The Lower Danube constitutes the only still existing spawning location for most Danube sturgeons. The World Sturgeon Conservation Society states the Danube as the only large river system in Europe where protection of existing but dwindling sturgeon stocks is still possible. Sturgeons are the most threatened animals on the IUCN Red List. Brown bears are critically endangered and their number is decreasing, but there are still a few hundred in Bulgaria.
Governance, Finance and Climate
- Bulgaria is among the few European countries with experience in PES schemes (both national and private). It has a long-term involvement in EU funds programming in the field of environment and rural development, and selected key national policies and strategies to reflect biodiversity priorities. Bulgaria is among the few European countries to have a separate Law on Climate.
- 2008-2014 Day of the Nature Parks: WWF-Bulgaria mobilized a huge community of citizens, protected area administration and media/celebrities for better protection and development of ten Nature Parks in Bulgaria. This activity was a campaign under the umbrella of an important restauration project: "Conservation and Restoration of 11 Natura 2000 Riparian and Wetland Habitats in 10 SCI's in Bulgarian Forests".
- 2018-2020 Life for Danube Sturgeons: This is the presently last one of WWF-Bulgaria's sturgeon protection projects. For more than 10 years WWF-Bulgaria has been fighting to save the endangered Danube sturgeons and their habitats. More information here and on www.danube-sturgeons.at
- 2006-2021 Forest partnership with IKEA: WWF-Bulgaria has built up a very well established forest program focussed on promoting responsible forest management, mapping and protecting old-growth forests and identifying high conservation values of the managed forests. With the support of IKEA, WWF also developed the first free forest database in Bulgaria, based on GI.
- 2015-2018 Save Pirin Campaign: Supporters in- and outside the WWF network were successfully mobilized in order to stop mass logging and construction work in Pirin National Park. This was the first worldwide successful Bulgarian environmental campaign.
- 2021-2024 - Within the LIFE funded SWiPE project, WWF-Bulgaria is engaged in an international consortium against wildlife crime. WWF works in collaboration with enforcement authorities to discourage and ultimately reduce wildlife crime by improving compliance with EU environmental law. SWiPE aims to contribute to increasing the number of successfully prosecuted offences.
- From 2020 on two Panda Lab projects initiated a WWF youth engagement program. PanGea - the WWF-Bulgaria youth organization started in 2022. PanGea is a sustainable structure for empowering young people in the age of 15-25 who are alert, enthusiastic and committed to nature and innovative practices. By means of this program, they will have the opportunity to choose where they want to become engaged, and they will also be supported by experienced WWF experts.