BULGARIA - WWF has launched a mobile application to report illegal activities in the forest

Through the illegal extraction of wood, the gray sector in the forestry in our country generates hidden revenues of about BGN 150 million per year. In addition to leading to serious financial losses to the state budget, illegal logging significantly impairs the production, water protection and conservation functions of forests.

As part of its work on forest protection, the conservation organization WWF has developed the Save the Forest mobile application . With its help, anyone can now report if they witness illegal activities or natural disasters in the forest. The application can be downloaded for free from Google Play.

"The mobile application allows only a few short steps to report to the competent authorities in case of suspicion of illegal forest activities. It is intended for public use by all people concerned about wildlife conservation. Its development was supported by the Forest Executive Agency (EFA) and has become a joint initiative to combat illegal activities in Bulgarian forests, " said Nelly Doncheva, chief expert in the Forest Department of WWF. The signals will be sent automatically to the unit of the 112 system at the EAG and to a specially created e-mail address. At the same time they will be displayed and the public platform forests WWF - gis.wwf.bg .

How do I signal?

The application allows for three types of signal: for illegal logging, for a truck with illegal timber and for a natural disaster. After selecting a signal, the system reminds us to turn on the GPS on the mobile device to indicate its exact location. There is also an option to attach media files such as photos, videos or sound recordings. Then we have to briefly describe the signal in a special window of the application, enter the date and contacts for feedback. If due to the lack of internet coverage we cannot send the signal at the moment, this can be done at a later stage, in which case we must use the "Save" option. The "Send Alert" button is the last step in the process.

Damage from illegal logging in Bulgaria

According to the WWF analysis of illegal loggingfrom 2018 the volume of illegal logging in Bulgaria reaches 2.4-2.7 million cubic meters per year or between 1/4 and 1/3 of the total yield. The investigation reveals that the main illegal activities are related to the felling of unmarked trees, felling without a permit, transportation of wood without the relevant document, as well as manipulation of the quantity or quality of the harvested material. All this leads to serious environmental consequences such as habitat change, disruption of important biocorridors, loss of species, soil erosion, etc.

Apart from being a key prerequisite for the condition of the air we breathe, forests are also of great economic importance. To find out how you can more easily distinguish between legal and illegal logging, as well as which are the responsible state institutions to which to report if necessary, see the explanation of the WWF experts .