Biodiversity protection and sustainable local development through ecotourism in the area of Razlog, Bulgaria

The project is being funded as a pilot phase by the Small Grants Programme of the Global Environmental Facility and is being implemented by the Dobarsko Association in partnership with Rila National Park Directorate, the Pirin Tourism Forum and Razlog Municipality.

Project duration: 01.03.2006 – 31.08.2007

Project budget: 169950 BGL, of which: 80350 BGL from the GEF SGP, and local co-funding as follows: 41560 BGL from Dobarsko Association; 19880 BGL from the Rila NP Directorate; 11380 BGL from the Pirin Tourism Forum; 3800 BGL from Razlog Municipality and 12980 BGL from Nikol-2002 Ltd. Around 17% of the provided co-funding is in the form of in-kind contribution, mainly voluntary work by project participants.

Project area: Most activities are concentrated in the village of Dobarsko but are targeted at the whole Razlog area and involve people from all villages in the municipality.

Project objectives:

The overall project objective is to contribute to the preservation of biodiversity and sustainable local development through ecotourism in the area of Razlog. To achieve this, the following specific objectives have been set:

Contribute to the long-term preservation of two globally significant species within Rila National Park, by applying the principles of environmental interpretation and education;
Develop an integrated and sustainable ecotourism product, by providing the necessary specialized visitor infrastructure and services;
Raise the capacity of local community to develop and implement similar projects in the future.

Project target groups:

The project aims at the following target groups:

  • Local community of Dobarsko and neighbouring villages, who will be providing ecotourism services.
  • The whole population of Razlog municipality (and all the others nighbouring Rila NP), who will have a sustainable model to follow;
  • Rila NP staff, who will receive support in their efforts to protect important biodiversity on their territory, in accordance with the Management Plan of the Park;
  • Other organizations and institutions interested in biodiversity protection and local sustainable development: the municipal administration of Razlog and neighbouring municipalities, NGOs working for local development or environmental education, etc.
  • Students and young people from the whole area of Rila NP, who will learn more about globally significant species living in the Park and the need for their protection;
  • Visitors of Dobarsko and Rila NP, who will be better informed about globally significant biodiversity on the territory and attracted to become friends of the National Park.

Project activities:

  1. Establishment of Dobarsko Visitor Center.
  2. Consultations and training for local people from Razlog area involved in ecotourism and especially for interpreters – guides. Elaboration of interpretative packages – trail programme, exposition plan, boards and printed materials, and educational programme – for the caterpillar and the Rila primrose.
  3. Production of the two interpretative expositions and arrangement at the Visitor Center.
  4. Development and official opening of the two interpretative trails – for the caterpillar and Rila primrose. This includes tracing of the trails, mounting of info boards and additional tourist infrastructure where needed, as well as printing of trail maps.
  5. Preparation, publishing and dissemination of promotional and educational materials: travel guidebook of Razlog area, postcards, calendars/posters, T-shirts and educational packs.

In addition, activities have been envisaged to promote project progress – uploading new developments on the Web site of Dobarsko Association, participation in national tourism fairs, work with Bulgarian travel companies and others.