Incentive measures for support the protection and sustainable consumption of medicinal plants and other natural resources from forests and protected areas in Bulgaria
The Ordinances (Ordinance No. 2 on the rules and requirements for collection of herbs or genetic material from medical plants and Ordinance No. 5 on the requirements for herbal preparation stations and storehouses for herbs) have been adopted in pursuance of provisions of the national Law on medicinal plants regarding the management of the activities for preservation and sustainable use of the medical plants, including collection and the buying out of the herbs obtained from them. The Ordinances aim at environmental friendly and sustainable use of medicinal plants resources and of their genetic material as well as protection of their natural localities. Government decree No. 63 on Actualization of the National Tariff for fees for the collection of medicinal plants and natural resources from forests in protected areas – exclusively state property has been adopted in pursuance of a recommendation in the 3rd Environmental Performance Review of Bulgaria of UNECE. By this decree has been actualized the national fees tariff for the authorized use of forest products, pasture and timber in protected areas in order to ensure that fees for collection of medicinal plants and for obtain of other natural resources from forests and protected areas – exclusively state property, provide an adequate rate of return for public finances and therefore to be adjusted the fee rates accordingly. Project SusHerb LIFE 2012 - Promoting a Sustainable Herbal Harvest in Bulgaria (SusHerb), funded by LIFE programme of the EU, was implemented by Information and Nature Conservation Foundation (NGO-Foundation) in partnership with the Bulgarian National Radio. The project increased awareness among the key stakeholders on the need to move towards sustainable herb harvesting practices and, through 197 programmes aired on the Bulgarian National Radio, the MAP Fair held, the video film that was showed more than 11 times on the National TV and all other activities of the project, gained the support of a wide section of the Bulgarian population. The project also worked with 36 experts from 18 municipalities in the Plovdiv District, 22 regional forestry and game experts and 30 trainers of collectors to increase their knowledge and improve their medical plants sustainable use skills. It is expected that this training will lead to improvements in the management and conservation status of the targeted species in the long term. In addition, SuSherb developed training materials to be used to improve the sector. As a result of the project, over 50 buyers and processing facilities managers in the project area, 72 in the neighbouring districts as well as 8 400 farmers and 80% of medical plants collectors in the project area agreed to commit to ensure that plants resources and habitats were substantially improved. Thanks to a new and effective control system in Plovdiv District, there was a 30% decrease in the number of detected cases of improperly collected plant material in the last collection season of the project compared to the first. The project also noted a 20% increase in the interest for medical plants cultivation in Plovdiv District.
Sustainable use of the medical plants leads, on the one hand, to protection of their habitats and population and therefore – the natural capital and biodiversity, and on the other hand – new opportunities for green employment and business are created on the basis of long term availability and safe reproduction of this important resource.