The Project: “Reinforcing protected areas capacity through an innovative methodology for sustainability” with acronym BIO2CARE is funded by the Territorial Cooperation Programme INTERREG V-A Greece-Bulgaria 2014-2020. The leading beneficiary is the Laboratory of Environmental Management and Industrial Ecology of the Democritus University of Thrace, and the other Greek partners are the Management body of the Nestos Delta and Lakes Vistonida – Ismarida, Municipality of Nestos, the Goulandris Natural History Museum / Greek Biotope Wetland Centre and the National Confederation of Disabled People, Branch of Northern Greece. Bulgarian partners include the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Waters – Blagoevgrad, the Rila National Park Directorate, the Southwest University of Neofit Rilski in Blagoevgrad and the Pirin Tourism Forum.
Between the 16 and 18 of April 2018, the Bulgarian partners hosted the first meeting of the project Joint Steering Committee at the Bachinovo Center of the SWU of Neofit Rilski. The leaders of the different Work Packages presented the status of each of them six months after the project start on 20.10.2017. the Lead Partner reported success in the implementation of Work Package 1 – Project Management. The Pirin Tourism Forum distributed tasks under WP2 – Information and Publicity – in order to finalize the Communication Plan and prepare the first six-month newsletter of the project and the publication of various information / promotional materials by each of the partners. A representative of the National Confederation of Disabled People presented the concept for a project web-site which will answer the modern standards and requirements for accessibility of people with various special needs.
Under WP3 (Integrated Management Systems), the Lead Partner reported progress in the collecting of basic information on a set of components showing the status of the environment and the extent of anthropogenic pressure in the two model project territories – the Greek National Park of Nestos Delta and the Lakes of Vistonida-Ismarida, and the National Park of Rila in Bulgaria. Work has started too on the Methodology for calculating the carrying capacity of the territories.
Tasks under WP4 (Mitigating illegal a activities for sustainable development in PAs) are forthcoming in the next project periods, so the responsible partner – SWU of Neofit Rilski – has mostly presented the readiness for development of high-technology monitoring systems for the two project territories.
The last day of the meeting was dedicated to introducing the guests to the Bulgarian project territory and a final discussion about the distribution of tasks and responsibilities among the partners until the next meeting of the Joint Steering Committee.