Second Workshop on the BSB552 / RedMarLitter Project Was Held



A second workshop was held in Burgas between 19-22 March 2019 within the project “Innovative Techniques and Methods for Reducing Marine Litter in the Black Sea Coastal Areas”, priority 2.2. “Awareness Raising and Joint Actions for Reducing River and Marine Litter”, Joint Operational Programme “Black Sea Basin 2014-2020” .



The project partners from Bulgaria, Romania and Georgia gathered at the Business Incubator in Burgas and discussed the progress of the project and the forthcoming activities for its implementation.



Following an introduction by the Lead Partner the Via Pontica Foundation and the adoption of the agenda, the meeting continued in a working format in the form of a consultation and discussing the work schedule activities that have been carried out so far, as well as the necessary next steps.



On 21.03. Burgas Municipality presented the developed Internet platform for the project, its structure and design. The partners had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the functionalities and in real time, testing the control panel with their own accounts.



During the meeting the partners met with academic representatives from Burgas in the face of the experts of the University “Prof. Dr. Zlatarov “- Department of Ecology and Environmental Protection, which annually organize the conference “To think ecologically about the future”.



The motto of the conference is in line with the project’s goals and for their colleagues from Georgia and Romania, project partners, it was important and interesting to exchange knowledge and experience related to pollution of Black Sea basin waters.



As part of the event’s program, the Via Pontica Foundation organized a visit to the Ecological Park for Biodiversity and Alternative Tourism “Vaya” – a promising project of the Via Pontica Foundation, fully committed to the care of nature and protection of the ecological diversity.




Regional Stakeholders Seminar “Towards a Common Maritime Agenda for the Black Sea”


Following the 2018 Burgas Ministerial Declaration towards a Common Maritime Agenda for the Black Sea, the Facility for Blue Growth organized the Regional stakeholder seminar on blue economy. The seminar took place on 19 March 2019 in Istanbul, Turkey. It was attended by representatives of Via Pontica Foundation.



The Seminar was organised with the support of the European Commission and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, Permanent International Secretariat (BSEC PERMIS).

Following a series of national roundtables in various Black Sea coastal countries, was given the opportunity to hear different opinions and views on areas of mutual interest and the actions needed to support the blue economy in the region.



The discussions were organised around the following topics:

  • Research and innovation;
  • Maritime connectivity;
  • Fisheries and aquaculture;
  • Sustainability;
  • Coastal and maritime tourism;
  • Blue careers and skills.



The seminar gathered policy experts, scientists, entrepreneurs and regional organisations to debate on the challenges and opportunities for cooperation on marine and maritime affairs in the Black Sea and which also sought to identify joint actions to support an innovative, resilient and sustainable blue economy in the region.


World Wildlife Day



On 20 December 2013, at its 68th session, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) proclaimed 3 March, the day of signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as UN World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. The UNGA resolution also designated the CITES Secretariat as the facilitator for the global observance of this special day for wildlife on the UN calendar. World Wildlife Day has now become the most important global annual event dedicated to wildlife.

World Wildlife Day will be celebrated in 2019 under the theme “Life below water: for people and planet”, which aligns with goal 14 of UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The ocean contains nearly 200,000 identified species, but actual numbers may be in the millions. Globally, the market value of marine and coastal resources and industries is estimated at US$3 trillion per year, about 5% of global GDP. Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. Marine wildlife has sustained human civilization and development for millennia, from providing food and nourishment, to material for handicraft and construction. It has also enriched our lives culturally, spiritually, and recreationally in different ways.

The capacity of life below water to provide these services is severely impacted, as our planet’s oceans and the species that live within it are under assault from an onslaught of threats. As much as 40% of the ocean is now heavily affected by the most significant and direct threat of over exploitation of marine species as well as other threats such as pollution, loss of coastal habitats and climate change. These threats have a strong impact on the lives and livelihoods of those who depend on marine ecosystem services, particularly women and men in coastal communities.

This is the first World Wildlife Day to focus on life below water. It is a great opportunity to raise awareness about the breathtaking diversity of marine life, the crucial importance of marine species to human development, and how we can make sure it will continue to provide these services for future generations.

Pesticides Are Harming Bees in Literally Every Possible Way


This story originally appeared on Reveal and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration. It was produced in collaboration with the Food & Environment Reporting Network, an independent nonprofit news organization.

While soybean farmers watched the drift-prone weed killer dicamba ravage millions of acres of crops over the last two years, Arkansas beekeeper Richard Coy noticed a parallel disaster unfolding among the weeds near those fields.

When Coy spotted the withering weeds, he realized why hives that produced 100 pounds of honey three summers ago now were managing barely half that: Dicamba probably had destroyed his bees’ food.

In October, the Environmental Protection Agency extended its approval of the weed killer for use on genetically modified soybeans and cotton, mostly in the South and Midwest, for two more years. At the time, the EPA said: “We expect there will be no adverse impacts to bees or other pollinators.”

But scientists warned the EPA years ago that dicamba would drift off fields and kill weeds that are vital to honeybees. The consequences of the EPA’s decisions now are rippling through the food system.

Dicamba already has destroyed millions of dollars’ worth of non-genetically modified soybeans and specialty crops, such as tomatoes and wine grapes. And now it appears to be a major factor in large financial losses for beekeepers. Hive losses don’t affect just the nation’s honey supply: Honeybees pollinate more than $15 billion worth of fruits, nuts, and vegetables a year, largely in California, according to the Department of Agriculture.

“It seems like everybody’s been affected,” said Bret Adee, whose family runs the nation’s largest beekeeping outfit, in South Dakota. He thinks 2018 might be “the smallest crop in the history of the United States for honey production.”

From 2016 to 2017, US honey production dropped 9 percent. Official statistics for 2018 have not been released.

Beekeepers long have struggled to protect their hives from parasites, viruses, insecticides, and other colony-destroying threats. All these factors, as well as climate change, have been linked to colony collapse disorder, which emerged more than a decade ago and destroyed 30 percent to 90 percent of some beekeepers’ hives. Now with dicamba, beekeepers must contend with a scourge that can wipe out the food and habitat bees need to thrive.

Nine years ago, agricultural ecologist David Mortensen had told EPA officials that allowing dicamba use on genetically modified crops would pose serious risks to wild plants and the pollinators they sustain. In 2011, the EPA’s own scientists cited Mortensen’s work to conclude that increased use of dicamba could affect pollinators.

But the agency registered dicamba in 2016 despite the warnings, Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting and the Food & Environment Reporting Network reported in November. Last fall, the agency extended approval through 2020.

EPA officials declined to comment, citing the government shutdown.

‘Pretty Damning’ Evidence

No one factor can explain what’s driving hive losses. But the evidence is “pretty damning” that dicamba affects both pollinator forage and the bees themselves, according to Mortensen, chairman of University of New Hampshire’s Department of Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Systems.

Dicamba damaged nearly 5 million acres of soybeans in the Midwest over the past two years, and “you know that all the field edges anywhere near the damaged crops were hammered by the herbicide,” he said, “which would mean the broadleaf plants the bees go to were hammered.” Dicamba has little effect on grasses, including corn and wheat, but even tiny doses can injure soybeans, wildflowers, and other broadleaf plants.

Dicamba was a hot topic at the annual American Honey Producers Association meeting earlier this month, said Darren Cox, a Utah beekeeper who stepped down as head of the association last year. “We’re very concerned about dicamba and the impacts it’s having on the honey industry and the health of bees,” he added.

This year’s honey crop was “very poor” in several regions, Cox noted. Drought in several top honey-producing states not only depleted bees’ forage, but also led to more herbicide use because stressed plants don’t easily absorb the chemicals. As a result, he said, “you tend to have weaker hive strength because of lack of forage and nutrition.”

South Dakota, where Adee Honey Farms is based, reported about 250,000 acres of dicamba-injured soybeans since 2017. The Adees typically manage 80,000 to 90,000 hives, “but our numbers have been so destroyed the last couple of years, we’ve started using other people’s bees,” Adee said.

More than 70 percent of the nation’s commercial honeybees are shipped to pollinate California’s million acres of almond orchards every winter. But this season, beekeepers have been struggling to fill their trucks with hives and are facing massive cuts to what is typically their biggest paycheck of the year.

Lyle Johnston, president of the Colorado Professional Beekeeping Association, typically sends almond farmers 75,000 hives, including about 7,000 of his own. Johnston hasn’t had trouble with his bees, which he raises far from agricultural fields. (Colorado is among 34 states where it’s legal to spray dicamba on genetically modified crops, though few acres are planted with soybeans.) But in three decades of running bees to California, he said he’s never had so many beekeepers tell him they’ve come up short. Coy and several other beekeepers who typically send him as many as 10 truckloads of bees are sending half that this season.

Many beekeepers near soybean fields said they are losing half their hives—losses similar to those attributed to colony collapse disorder. “We can’t breed bees fast enough to keep up with the losses and maintain healthy colonies,” Adee said.

Gary Mackrill of North Dakota’s Mackrill Honey Farms thinks dicamba sprayed near his hives might be making bees more vulnerable to pathogens, cold, and other stressors. Mackrill lost nearly 40 percent of his hives last fall. The year before was even worse, he said: “Our bee outfit has been devastated.”

Over the last two years, when hundreds of thousands of acres of North Dakota soybeans were damaged by dicamba, Mackrill lost some 3,000 hives and more than a quarter-million dollars in pollination contracts. Last year, North Dakota banned dicamba applications after June 30, but it was too late.

By early July, “the honey flow just turned off like you turned off a faucet,” he said. “And it never resumed.”

Then after a cold snap hit North Dakota in the fall, Mackrill’s bees started freezing to death. Even when the mercury dips below zero, you might see a couple of dead bees, he said, “but handfuls of dead bees? That’s abnormal.”

Whether dicamba is affecting bees’ ability to stay warm is unclear. Mackrill hopes to find out by sending samples of dead bees to Strong Microbials, run by microbiologist Slava Strogolov in Milwaukee. Strogolov will test for dicamba and other pesticides in the bees’ guts.

Strogolov thinks dicamba might be harming gut microbes critical for bee health. “Whenever honeybees land on the flower that’s been sprayed, they will ingest that pollen and the gut microbes will be the first ones exposed to these chemicals,” he said.

Honeybees rely on gut bacteria to digest pollen. If they don’t get enough pollen, they can’t make the fat they need to handle the cold.

Losing Wild Pollen Sources

Coy became convinced that plummeting honey production at Coy’s Honey Farm, which is Arkansas’ largest beekeeping operation, was due to dicamba after reading one of Mortensen’s studies. The research showed that doses of dicamba that mimicked the drift associated with spraying the weed killer delayed flowering and reduced by half the number of flowers that plants produced and the number of pollinator visits.

Coy first saw dicamba symptoms on a major bee food called redvine, a flowering plant that snakes through tree canopies along fence rows. In 2017, the vine’s shiny teardrop leaves looked warped and wilted. By last summer, he said, the vines were dead.

Bees depend on redvine for nectar and pollen, the protein source that helps hives survive freezing temperatures, parasites and other stressors. If queens lack pollen, they won’t lay eggs and the population stagnates or declines.

When Coy inspected hives closer to Mississippi, at sites where farmers didn’t use dicamba, he found redvine bursting with seed pods and flowers. Nearby hives hummed with bees that produced 100 pounds of honey and five to six frames of stored pollen.

But the majority of hives in Arkansas, where the Coys kept most of their 13,000 hives, were too anemic to ship to California almond growers. Last year, Coy said, “turned out to be a disaster for us.”

In years past, some commercial beekeepers tried moving their hives into Arkansas’ hill country to get away from pesticides, said Jon Zawislak, a University of Arkansas extension entomologist and apiary expert. But seasonal drought in July and August leaves wildflowers in the hills without much nectar and beehives without much honey. Historically, hives did better around agriculture, he said, because irrigated fields kept flowers blooming, and beekeepers would shift the bees around to avoid pesticides.

But moving hives doesn’t work with a weed killer like dicamba that can evaporate for days after spraying. “The situation with dicamba is brand new,” Zawislak said. Beekeepers are trying to adapt, he added, “but they can’t maintain hundreds or thousands of colonies in areas that simply don’t produce anything.”

And although agricultural fields help bees weather drought, Zawislak’s recent research shows that bees get the lion’s share of their pollen from wild vegetation.

On New Year’s Day, after losing more than $1 million dollars’ worth of honey and pollination contracts over the past two years, the Coys closed Crooked Creek Bee Co., their retail honey business, and made plans to relocate to Mississippi.

“We can only produce about 50 percent of the honey that we’ve produced prior to in-crop use of dicamba,” Coy said. “We have no choice but to leave Arkansas.”

Plastics Reach Remote Pristine Environments, Scientists Say


Birds’ eggs in High Arctic contain chemical additives used in plastics


Scientists have warned about the impact of plastic pollution in the most pristine corners of the world after discovering chemical additives in birds’ eggs in the High Arctic.

Eggs laid by northern fulmars on Prince Leopold Island in the Canadian Arctic tested positive for hormone-disrupting phthalates, a family of chemicals that are added to plastics to keep them flexible. It is the first time the additives have been found in Arctic birds’ eggs.

The contaminants are thought to have leached from plastic debris that the birds ingested while hunting for fish, squid and shrimp in the Lancaster Sound at the entrance to the Northwest Passage. The birds spend most of their lives feeding at sea, returning to their nests only to breed.

Northern fulmars have an oily fluid in their stomachs, which they projectile-vomit at invaders that threaten their nests. Scientists believe the phthalates found their way into the fluid, and from there passed into the bloodstream and the eggs that females were producing.

Jennifer Provencher at the Canadian Wildlife Service said it was worrying to find the additives in the eggs of birds in such a pristine environment. The northern fulmars in the Arctic tend to come across far less plastic than other birds.

Provencher’s tests revealed that mothers passed on a cocktail of contaminants to their unborn chicks. “It’s really tragic,” she said at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington DC. “That bird, from the very beginning of its development, will have those contaminants inside it.”

She analysed the yolk and albumin of five northern fulmar eggs collected on Prince Leopold Island and found that one tested positive for phthalates. The chemicals disrupt hormones, or the endocrine system, and have been linked to birth defects, fertility problems and a host of metabolic diseases. Many phthalates have been banned in children’s toys on safety grounds.

More work is needed to confirm whether the additives cause any harm. “We know that these chemicals are often endocrine disruptors, and we know that they can interrupt hormonal development and cause deformations. But whether they actually cause any harm in the eggs is something we don’t know,” Provencher said.

Further tests found traces of other plastic contaminants in northern fulmar and black-legged kittiwake eggs collected from the same nesting sites. Eggs from both birds tested positive for SDPAs and BZT-UVs, which are added to plastics to stop them degrading and losing their colour in sunlight, respectively.

The scientists now want to look for plastic contaminants in the eggs of other bird populations that ingest more plastic debris. “We need to look at whether they have the same chemicals, higher levels of chemicals, and additional chemicals,” said Provencher. “The recognition that at least some of these contaminants are going into eggs really opens the door for all these other questions we should be asking in areas of much higher plastic concentrations.”

Northern fulmars are large, albatross-like birds that soar low over the waves in search of food. More than half a million breeding pairs nest on the cliffs of Britain, with most on the Scottish coastline and Northern Isles.

Because northern fulmars can live for 40 years or more, the birds have been exposed to significant plastic debris in the seas for only a few generations. That meant the birds had not had time to adapt to the changing environment, Provencher said.

Alex Bond, a conservation biologist who studies seabirds and marine debris at the Natural History Museum in London, said: “It’s another example of the often invisible impacts that plastics can have on wildlife. It may not be enough to result in mortality, but it’s certainly not a positive thing, and combined with the pressures from other contaminants – from plastics and from the birds’ prey – contributes to the increased threats that many of the world’s seabirds are facing.”

Lyndsey Dodds, the head of UK marine policy at WWF, said: “Our throwaway culture is strangling the natural world with plastic, choking our oceans and harming our wildlife; 90% of the world’s sea birds have fragments of plastic in their stomach, and now we are hearing even their eggs are not immune from the plastic plague. We need to take urgent action globally and at home to eliminate plastics from nature by 2030.”


Ian Sample

The Guardian


The Great White Pelican, That Was Shot by Poachers, Flew (Photo and Video Reports)


Today, more than 40 birds – Greater White-fronted Geese, Mallard Ducks and one Great White Pelican were placed in the Wildlife Ecopark for Biodiversity and Alternative Tourism “Vaya”, located 15 km away from Bourgas. The birds have been injured in poaching. They were healed in the Wildlife Rescue Center in Stara Zagora and now, with the assistance of the Via Pontica Foundation, they were flying again.



“We chose to let the birds here because this reserve is a unique place, from here the Via Pontica migratory road passes and there is a huge number of birds throughout the year,” said Dr. Rusko Petrov, Operations Manager of the Wildlife Rescue Center of the Green Balkans. Our rehabilitated patients, which were tagged, very quickly mingled with the Wild Residents of the Reserve.



Ana Yancheva is the manager of Eco Park, which works together with Green Balkans and the clinic in Stara Zagora, where treated animals are treated. The eco-park helps the birds after their healing and gives them the opportunity to adapt to their natural environment.



The Great White Pelican, about one year old, was shot with several shots, one of which seriously damaged the bird’s leg. In addition to it, Greater White-fronted Geese and Mallard Ducks are recovered and were also put into the waters of Lake Vaya. Their wings were pruned by poachers. Now, they are powered and within a few days is expected to have an improvement in their condition.



Ana Yancheva explains: “If there are sanctions, the poachers will not afford to hurt the animals. But there is another problem. This is ignorance of the species. Our task is to show them more often and people to have the knowledge that it is a protected species and should not hurt it. Many animals have suffered because of misunderstanding. ”



Hristina Klisurova from Green Balkans is one of the people who took care of the shot Great White Pelican. She is pleased that it is already at large and recalls how severe the condition of the bird was in the beginning. She said, “The bird was almost helpless. After the review, it was decided that the broken wing would remain at rest. The balls were not taken out because it would be more dangerous for the bird. The pellet with which the pelican was hit in the abdomen is also localized. So, after a month of recovery and treatment, the pelican is free. ”



This event ended happily, but what is the future of the birds that winter or live all year round in the water basins near Burgas? It turns out that it depends to a great extent on every person who touches wildlife.

Video of the event you can see HERE:

Here is a photo story from the event:















Sources: and BTA

Video – Todor Stavrev

Photo- Vanya Yancheva

Bavarians Vote to Save Bugs and Birds—and Change Farming


In the face of plummeting insect and bird populations, citizens in the south German state are trying to make farmers preserve habitat.

For the past 11 days Bavarians have been standing in lines, sometimes quite long ones, to sign a petition designed to save bees, other bugs, and the birds that eat them.

Weeks before carnival festivities officially plunge Germany into silly season, adults in bee costumes have been a common site on the streets of this south German state. In Erlangen a few elderly ones lay on their backs on the freezing pavement and pumped their arms and legs to simulate bee agony. In Munich’s Marienplatz on January 31, a crowd that had gathered to launch the “Save the Bees” petition also attempted to set a world record for sustained mass buzzing.

The petition itself is not light-hearted, however. Nor is it simply a high-minded statement of principle. It consists of four pages of detailed amendments to Bavaria’s nature protection law which, taken together, would fundamentally change how farming is done in the state, with the overall goal of creating a connected web of wildlife-friendly habitat.

One amendment, for example, would require farmers to spare hedges and trees. Another would preserve five-meter-wide (16-foot) stripes of habitat on stream- and river-banks. Perhaps the most important would commit Bavaria to a goal of farming 30 percent of the state’s agricultural land organically, without chemical pesticides or fertilizers, by 2030.

Conventional farmers in Bavaria are by and large not thrilled.

As of the morning of February 11, some 900,000 people had lined up at town halls around the state to sign the petition. Organizers are confident that by February 13, when the two-week campaign ends, they will have gotten more than the roughly 950,000 signatures—10 percent of Bavaria’s registered voters—needed to send the petition to the state legislature. The legislature would then be required either to enact the petition or propose an alternative—with the final choice being made by voters in a special referendum a few months from now.

A coalition of conservation groups has recently called for the world to adopt a goal of protecting 30 percent of the whole planet by 2030 in order to preserve biodiversity. Bavarian supporters of the petition see themselves as pursuing a similar purpose at home—in a state that is the bastion of German political conservatism.

“In Bavaria there are many people who are actively engaged in protecting nature,” says Hans-Josef Fell, a prominent Green Party politician in Hammelburg who signed the petition but did not help organize the campaign. “They all see that humans are causing a dramatic disappearance of species in the world, the likes of which haven’t occurred on the planet since the extinction of the dinosaurs. They all want to counter that loss of biodiversity.”

Insect Armageddon

Honeybees get a lot of attention, but they’re essentially a domestic species, not a wild one—their population depends heavily on beekeepers. Although the number of bee colonies in Bavaria and elsewhere in Germany is lower than it was 30 years ago, it has been rising in recent years, as more people are taking up beekeeping again, often as a hobby.

“It’s not really about the honeybee,” said Agnes Becker in a televised debate last week. Becker is a leader of the Ecological Democratic Party, the tiny party that initiated the petition drive, in partnership with the Greens and with the Bavarian Association for Bird Protection. “The bee is our little mascot, our symbol,” she said. “But it stands for a very long and ever lengthening list of threatened animal and plant species.”

Recent research on both insects and birds has been alarming. A German study in 2017 reviewed insect survey data from 63 protected areas around the country; it found that the total mass of flying insects had declined by 76 percent over 27 years. That’s cataclysmic enough, but another study published last fall found even greater declines in insects in one Puerto Rican rainforest—and also in the lizards, frogs, and birds that eat insects.

Bird populations are falling in Europe too. The day after the German study was published in 2017, the German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union, or NABU, released a survey based on government data estimating that the country had lost more than 15 percent of its songbirds, a total of more than 12 million breeding pairs, between 1998 and 2009. The number of starlings alone declined by 2.6 million pairs.

A similar decline has been observed in France, and it has affected birds that are adapted to farmland most of all. Since 1989 the populations of 24 species of farmland birds in France have dropped by 33 percent, with the decline accelerating in the past few years.

Worldwide, according to a review published February 10 in the journal Biological Conservation, more than 40 percent of all insect species are in danger of extinction. Hardest hit are the groups that include bees and wasps, moths and butterflies, and dung beetles.

Pesticides are one threat to insects, of course. Last April the European Union banned the open spraying of three neonicotinoid pesticides that had been shown to harm honeybees. But the problem is more systemic, according to the Biological Conservation review and other research. The main driver of insect declines is loss of habitat, as land is farmed intensively or paved over in cities.

The People Legislates

The Bavarian constitution says “Laws are adopted by the Landtag [the state house of representatives] or by the people.” The Ecological Democratic Party, which got less than two percent of the vote in the 2018 elections and thus has no seats in the state house, has shown itself to be a master of the direct-democracy option. A petition it launched in 1997 led to the abolition of the state senate—a mostly powerless institution, to be sure, but one that had persisted for four decades. Another petition in 2010 yielded a statewide smoking ban in bars and restaurants.

The effort to reform Bavarian agriculture may prove just as consequential. In addition to preventing farmers from chopping down hedges and trees, the people’s petition would forbid the conversion of grasslands—pastures and hay meadows—to other agricultural uses. It would prohibit mowing large meadows from the outside in (which may trap creatures in the middle), and it would require that 10 percent of the meadows in the state remain unmown until June 15, so that wildflowers would have a chance to bloom and nourish insects.

To critics, including the state farmers’ federation and the agriculture minister, all this smacks of a “planned economy,” that is, of socialism—anathema in Bavaria. Farmers feel attacked by the petition and scapegoated for a problem that they say transcends agriculture.

Arno Zengerle is not a farmer, but he is the mayor of a small farming town, Wildpoldsried, in the foothills of the Alps. Under Zengerle’s leadership it has become a green-energy leader that, thanks to its wind turbines, solar panels, and biogas reactors, produces five times as much energy as it consumes. His town has also voluntarily invested considerably in wildflower meadows, he says. The save-the-bees petition is not his kind of green.

“Everybody wants to save the bees,” Zengerle says. “But what’s actually planned is to impose additional obligations on farmers, who already suffer under considerable bureaucratic burdens. In my view it will lead to more small farmers giving up their farms and renting or selling their land to larger operations.”

If the people’s petition is adopted, the state legislature will have a chance to modify the terms and reassure critics, proponents say—while holding onto the central point of the petition: Farming has to change if insect and bird habitat is to be preserved.

Karin Staffler, a beekeeper in Augsburg, sees the petition as a last chance. “If we wait until the whole world joins in, we’ll be waiting until there’s nothing left to save,” she wrote in an opinion piece in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, a Munich-based national daily. “We’ve all been standing by and watching for too long, now time is running away from us.”

Robert Kunzig , senior environment editor

National Geographic magazine.



Youth Festival of Applied Arts and Ecology on the Occasion of World Wetlands Day



To mark World Wetlands Day, the Via Pontica Foundation held a number of educational programs for children and students in the form of art events. In partnership with the school leadership of “Alexander Georgiev – Kodjakafaliyata” Primary School, on 08.02.2019, for the second consecutive year the “Art Event” –a festival of applied arts and ecology.



The event was attended by Prof. Dr. Sevdalina Tourmanova, Deputy Regional Governor and Regional Representative of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences for Burgas and the Region, Milena Yarmova, Chief Expert at RIEW Burgas, Assistant Professor Svetla Dalakchieva, Principal Curator in Natural Sciences Burgas Museum and Mihail Nenov, Director of “Alexander Georgiev-Kodjakafaliyata” Primary School.



Under the motto “Wetlands and Climate Change” through an interactive approach, adolescents learned new things about environmental and climate change studies in the Bourgas Wetlands area and the adverse effects of this change.



With the creation of thematic art installations under the sounds of music and competitive tasks dedicated to the preservation of the Bourgas Wetlands, over 50 children from the 5th and 6th grade acquainted themselves with the rare and threatened species and their characteristic habitats near Lake Vaya.



In solving the current environmental challenges, the students showed critical thinking and had many original creative ideas.


Of course, in the end, everyone received educational leaflets, organic shopping bags, and the most creative works were awarded with special prizes.




Circular Economy: Ancient Populations Pioneered the Idea of Recycling Waste


The circular economy is typically seen as the progressive alternative to our wasteful linear economy, where raw materials are used to make the products that feed today’s rampant consumerist hunger, which are then thrown away.

The idea of the circular economy only took off in the 1980s, but this doesn’t mean that the practices at the core of a circular economy, such as repairing, recycling, refurbishing, or repurposing, are equally novel. All of these strategies have the aim of keeping materials in use – whether as objects or as their raw components – for as long as possible. And all are hardly revolutionary.

The repurposing of objects and materials may be as old as tool use itself. In Palaeolithic times, smaller flint tools were made from old hand-axes. People in the Neolithic period had no problem reusing standing stones to construct their tombs, such as seen in Locmariaquer in France. Even ceramics, made from clay and therefore available in abundance, were frequently recycled. Old pottery was often ground down to powder and used in the clay for new pots. On Minoan Crete, this ceramic powder, known as grog, was also used to manufacture the mudbricks from which houses were built.

At the Bronze Age site in Hungary where I excavate, spindle whorls made from broken pot fragments turn up regularly. Large stones at this site pose an interpretative dilemma because of their continuous reuse and repurposing, from grindstone to anvil and doorstep to wall support. In fact, up until the 20th century, repair, reuse, and repurposing were common ways of dealing with material culture. The dominance of the wasteful linear economy is a real historical anomaly in terms of resource use.

But we should be careful not to fall into the trap of the “noble savage”. Our ancestors were no ecological saints. They polluted their surroundings through mining, burned down entire forests, and they too created massive amounts of waste. Just look at Monte Testaccio, a large artificial hill in Rome made up entirely out of broken amphorae.


When things are in abundance, people easily accept a wasteful and exploitative attitude. But for most of the past, most things were not in abundance, and so a core practice of a circular economy was adopted. This did not happen due to ideological motivation, but out of necessity.

Prehistoric recycling

Archaeologists typically don’t use the terminology of the circular economy, and describe the above examples simply, as reuse. This might partly explain why the deep roots of core practices of the circular economy are not discussed more widely. The same is also true of recycling.

When one adopts a very broad definition of recycling (thinking of it, for example, as the use of previously discarded artefacts), the origins of this practice can be traced all the way back to the Palaeolithic period. But let’s focus here on the understanding of recycling as is employed today. This is a practice in which waste (used objects) is completely converted, becoming the raw material of new products.

This practice of complete transformation also entered the repertoire of human behaviour far earlier than you may think. It became the core practice of an economy as long ago as the Bronze Age.

From about 2500BC, prehistoric people started to combine copper and tin on a regular basis, making metal known as bronze. The mass adoption of this artificial material caused significant shifts. Societies reoriented themselves economically because making bronze meant moving materials over long distances. Connecting sources with end users led to an intensification of trade. For these reasons, the Bronze Age is considered to be a formative epoch in the formation of Europe, in which we witness the emergence of pan-European exchange networks and large-scale trade.

Bronze also made people think in new ways. The process of metalworking differs markedly from other, earlier, crafts. Wood and stone carving involve the removal of material, which is why they are known as reductive technologies. Basketry, weaving, and pottery, meanwhile, are additive technologies. Bronze is different in that it is a transformative technology. The raw material is melted down to a liquid state and poured into a mould. Moulds were the very first blueprints, documenting the design of an object to be produced – and reproduced. This may not sound very exciting to us now but for the prehistoric people involved this must have a been a groundbreaking way of working materials.

Just imagine, if your stone axe broke, you could repurpose the pieces, but you would not be able to remake that axe. In contrast, if your bronze axe broke, you could remelt it and produce the same axe with the same quality, again. Recycling, as a core economic practice, was invented in the Bronze Age.

Circular economies

Bronze was not the first metal to be used in such a way; the origins of metal use start with pure copper being hammered into shape. But it is only at the beginning of the Bronze Age that recycling starts to take place on a large scale.

From the Middle Bronze Age onwards, all over Europe, bronze was being recycled. We know this because archaeologists have analysed the metal composition of hundreds of objects, showing the depletion of certain elements, as a result of frequent recycling. In addition, “old” metal was traded. A shipwreck discovered off the coast of Dover carried a large amount of French bronze objects dated to 1100BC, destined to be recycled in the UK.

As a political term, we might want to keep the circular economy in the present, but the practices that are part of it have long been part of human existence. In this respect, the Bronze Age could be seen as the first example of a circular economy in practice. Bronze was a main material of this period, and its economy revolved around recycling. Recognise this, and we start seeing that it is not the circular economy that is novel. Rather, it is the linear, and wasteful economy that is the anomaly.

The beauty of this is that we can put the past to good use. The core values of a circular economy are rooted in our past and in this manner, they can help shape and inspire a modern craftsmanship that fundamentally should revolve around sustainability and durability.

Written by Maikel Kuijpers – Assistant Professor, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science


Students from Burgas Celebrated World Wetlands Day


Via Pontica Foundation, together with the Museum of Natural History of Burgas and the Alexander Georgiev – Kodjakafaliyata School, realized an еducational program Academy for Eco Detectives in order to celebrate the World Wetlands Day and raise awareness of their importance among the younger generation. The main message of this year’s World Wetlands Day is “Wetlands reduce the harmful effects of climate change.”

The event was attended by Mrs. Ruska Boyadzhieva, Deputy Mayor on European Policies and Environment of the city of Burgas and Dr. Georgi Mitev, Director of the Regional Directorate for Food Safety, Burgas.



Multimedia presentations and lectures acquainted the students with the environmental studies and climate change in the area of the Burgas wetlands with a dynamic approach the environmental studies and climate change in the Bourgas Wetlands area as well as the immense importance of wetlands for the life of the Earth. Participants learned interesting facts about wild plants, birds and animals, the water wealth and unique landmarks of the Black Sea region.



The experts have highlighted the importance of the vital functions of wetlands – reducing floods, providing drinking water, improving water quality, and tackling climate change.The frequency of natural disasters is increasing and most of them are related to water. Because of climate change, it is even expected to increase this negative trend in the future. At the same time, a large part of society, especially the younger generation, is not sufficiently aware of the role of wetlands and the extent to which they protect us. Wetlands are often seen as deserted terrains that must be utilized for various other uses. At the discretion of scientists, at least 64% of global wetlands have disappeared since 1990.



The opening lesson presented the measures taken by the Municipality of Burgas to support, preserve and promote the sustainable use of Burgas wetlands. It was emphasized that we can all help to reverse the loss of wetlands so that we continue to take advantage of the goods they give to nature and people.



In the next stage of the Academy, students took part in educational games on wetlands. They discussed issues related to key concepts and types of wetlands as well as wetlands in Bourgas and the region.



Integrating interactive games such as Mystery Box and Organic Solution was not only fun and developing social skills, but also a really great tool for encouraging creativity and critical thinking in solving current environmental challenges and cause a real brainstorm and race.



Captain Planet Eco Club students recognized the waterfowl in the museum and solved crossword puzzles with “letter soup”. Others found an explanation of puzzles related to nature and its conservation and watched an interesting museum presentation dedicated to Burgas wetlands. Laughter, jokes complemented the experience.



In line with the concept, all children received leaflets with wetland information and practical souvenirs such as market bags and aluminum water bottles.



Finally, they all came to the conclusion, that it was never too late to take responsibility for their own actions and solemnly promised they would no longer buy plastic water bottles, give up the plastic bags in the store and disconnect their chargers before leaving home – something tiny, but every day with care for nature. Just as she takes care of us, so do we take care of her. And now we have the solutions and we just need the will and the action.