Joined Zone “Rila – Buffer” in the Natura 2000 Ecological Network


The National Council on Biological Diversity at the Ministry of Environment and Water approved the inclusion of the Rila – Buffer Protected Area in the Natura 2000 ecological network. This happens after 11 years of delay and following a decision of the European Court of Justice. Thus, the last territory of the Important Bird Areas in Bulgaria, which was outside Natura 2000, will receive legal protection.

This area includes forests and pastures of Rila Prefecture, adjacent to the Rila National Park and the Rila Monastery Nature Park, which as of 1 January 2007 should have been included in the ecological network. The inclusion of this territory in Natura 2000 is extremely important for the protection of endangered bird species living in forests. It preserves the largest compact habitats of the Eurasian pygmy owl and the boreal owl, as well as a significant part of the populations of the white-backed woodpecker and the Eurasian three-toed woodpecker- species with limited distribution only in the high mountains. Other particularly important species are hazel grouse, western capercaillie, meadow corncrake, golden eagle, short-toed snake eagle, peregrine falcon.

The decision to include Rila-Buffer is a demonstration of our country’s readiness to fulfill its obligations under Article 4 of the Birds Directive. By the date of accession to the EU, Bulgaria had to declare sufficient number of protected areas for birds to ensure that special measures were taken to protect endangered and migratory species. Only scientific ornithological criteria should be used for the selection of sites, and economic considerations can not be taken into account. Since 1997, the European Court has accepted BirdLife International’s criteria as the most appropriate.

OIP has been declared a Corine site of international importance in the 1990s, and in 2005 was approved by BirdLife International as a site of international importance for a large number of endangered breeding bird species. In 2006 the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) submitted duly completed documentation for 114 proposed protected areas for birds, including OIP Rila. At that time, however, the National Council on Biological Diversity (NCBD) did not approve the whole territory of the RMI, based on clear economic arguments. Since then the unfortunate history of the overall protection of the IBA Rila continues despite the fact that in 2007 BAS confirmed the need for the whole territory to be included in Natura 2000 and although in 2010 a wide range of ornithologists from different institutions united around the proposal that the whole OIP went into Natura, with the territories outside of the two parks uniting in one zone – Rila-buffer. The decision on Rila-Buffer was postponed to three meetings of the NCBD, the last of which in 2016. Then the decision was postponed under pressure from the municipalities despite the latest warning issued by the European Commission (EC) to Bulgaria. This caused Bulgaria to be sued and in the spring of 2018 it was convicted by the European Court for failing to comply with its obligations under the Birds Directive.



At the meeting of the NCBD, the protected area around Rila for the natural habitats was also considered. According to the decisions of a series of biogeographical seminars (bipartite process between the state and the EC) the announcement of the zone is necessary for the conservation of brown bear habitats and the critically endangered species of the fish European bullhead. Three variants of the area – the Association for Research Practices, the National Museum of Natural History at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forests.

The proposal, which best meets the scientific criteria, is that of the National Museum of Natural History at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. It was also supported by representatives of the scientific community and by both representatives of nature conservation organizations. The area proposed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forests, under the name “Low Rila”, is twice as small, fragmented and does not provide the conservation objectives. Nevertheless, the members of the board and representatives of the administration prevailed and the cut-off option was approved. This is a violation of the requirements of the Directive, as it is necessary to take into account only the scientific criteria at the notification stage.

It is important that the process of proclaiming the Rila-Buffer and Low Rila Protected Areas is completed as required by law and that the actions of the government, local authorities and citizens are aimed at the effective conservation and management of the protected areas of Nature 2000, stimulating nature-friendly activities and avoiding the destruction of habitats and species anxiety.


Climate in Crisis: World Famous French Climatologist Prof. Edouard Bard to BNT


We are increasingly talking about climate change. In the Polish city of Katowice there is the 24th UN Climate Change Conference, but the great missing is the French Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, who canceled his trip to cope with protests in France. The dissatisfaction of the “yellow vests” was due to the planned increase in fuel prices, which is known in the country as an “Ecology Fee”. About Climate Change and the measures to be taken, a guest at the studio of the morning block of the Bulgarian National Television was the French climatologist Professor Edouard Bard, who will today deliver a lecture at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

The Ecology charge has caused huge protests in France, which have been going on for a month now. Professor Bar said that this shows how difficult it is to adopt measures that are good for the future. In his opinion, these measures are not well explained to people, but it is important to start this change in environmental policy.

Professor Edouard Bard, climatologist: Paris was the leader in the battle with climate problems. Scientists are trying to organize things on an international level. The message of 20 years is the same – to reduce emissions. It is alarming and difficult that these additional taxes for some households can have an impact, and we must try to help the poorest to be assisted in this transition.

Regarding the topic of global warming, Professor Bard was categorical that things should be viewed globally as well as historically. Changes should be considered as age-old, such as millenniums, to have an idea of what’s extraordinary and not. It’s true that major changes, warming, climate change are increasing from carbon gas.



Professor Bard has won a number of prestigious awards, including the Knight of the Legion of Honor of the French Republic, the Grand Prix of Prince Albert First of the Monaco Oceanographic Institute, and an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Belgium.
Professor Bard’s lecture will be in English and is about “Paleo-climatic variations in the area around the Black Sea during the last ice age.” The climate around the Black Sea coast is influenced by the sudden events that have occurred over the last millennium in the North Atlantic Ocean, the French climate scientist said in a lecture.

According to him, through his great watershed, the hydrology of the Black Sea is affected by the melting of the Eurasian Fennoscandian glacial layer. Studying and documenting this volatility is key to identifying the region’s sensitivity to climate change in the past and present. This is also important in order to make a true recreation of the environment inhabited by the prehistoric inhabitants of these regions, as evidenced by the famous localities, such as the Bacho Kiro cave in Bulgaria, Prof. Eduard Bard explains.



Scientist Unveils Blueprint to Save Bees and Enrich Farmers


Urgent planting of wildflowers will attract pollinators and boost farmers’ food crops, expert to tell UN


The collapse in bee populations can be reversed if countries adopt a new farmer-friendly strategy, the architect of a new masterplan for pollinators will tell the UN biodiversity conference this week.

Stefanie Christmann of the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas will present the results of a new study that shows substantial gains in income and biodiversity from devoting a quarter of cropland to flowering economic crops such as spices, oil seeds, medicinal and forage plants.

The UN conference is already debating new guidelines on pollinators that will recommend reducing and gradually phasing out the use of existing pesticides, but Christmann’s research suggests this can be done without financial pain or a loss of production.

The need for a change is increasingly evident. More than 80% of food crops require pollination but the populations of insects that do most of this work have collapsed. In Germany, this fall is by up to 75% over the past 25 years. Puerto Rico has seen an even sharper decline. Numbers are not available in most countries, but almost all report an alarming decline.

Government responses have varied widely. Earlier this year, Brazil, one of the world’s biggest food exporters, went backwards when pro-agribusiness congressmen voted to lift restrictions on pesticides forbidden in other countries.

By contrast, the EU banned the world’s most widely used insecticides – known as neonicotinoids and many European countries are planting wildflowers to attract insects.

But this policy is expensive and brings little or no income to farmers. Christmann has spent the past five years working on a different approach, which she calls “farming with alternative pollinators” with field trials in Uzbekistan and Morocco.

The essence of the technique is to devote one in every four cultivation strips to flowering crops, such as oil seeds and spices. In addition, she provides pollinators with cheap nesting support, such as old wood and beaten soil that ground nesting bees can burrow into. Sunflowers were also planted nearby as wind shelters.



“There is a very low barrier so anyone in even the poorest country can do this. There is no equipment, no technology and only a small investment in seeds. It is very easy. You can demonstrate how to do it with pictures sent on a cellphone.”

Compared with control fields of pure monocultures, “amazing” benefits for farmers and an increase in abundance and diversity of pollinators were found. Crops were pollinated more efficiently, there were fewer pests such as aphids and greenfly, and yields increased in quantity and quality.

In all four different climatic regions that she studied, the total income of farmers increased, though the benefits were most marked on degraded land and farms without honeybees. The biggest gains were in semi-arid climates, where pumpkin yields rose 561%, aubergine 364%, broad bean 177% and melons 56%. In areas with adequate rain, tomato harvests doubled and aubergine went up 250%. In mountain fields, courgette production tripled and pumpkins doubled.

In another study, which is funded by the German environment ministry, Christmann will test a five-year plan to move from work with small pilot projects to large scale producers by inserting flowering strips of canola and other marketable crops to break up monocultures.

She also hopes to see changes in national landscape policies. Working with tourist, agriculture and communication ministries, she aims to raise awareness of the economic benefits of wild pollinators and to encourage more planting of wildflowers, berry bushes and flowering trees.

“The entire environment would be richer, more beautiful and more resilient to climate change,” said the bee evangelist. “We would have many more insects, flowers and birds. And it would be far more self-sustaining. Even the poorest countries in the world could do this.”

As more countries appreciate the advantages, she hopes they will be willing to join the coalition of countries committed to reversing the decline in pollinators. Currently, there are only 24 countries in this “coalition of the willing”, mostly from Europe. Eventually, she hopes there will be enough support to multilateral environmental agreement on pollinators similar to the international convention on trade in endangered species. “I hope this week’s conference will be the first step to bringing a multilateral agreement into being because that’s what we need,” she says.

She expects resistance from agrichemical companies. “I think Monsanto won’t like this because they want to sell their pesticides and this approach reduces pests naturally,” she says.

Christmann is used to adversity. When she first suggested a focus on pollinators at the world agricultural conference in 2010, the delegates laughed at her. For many years, she struggled to gain funds and for two years she had to use her savings to finance her work on pollinator programmes.

Now she has the backing of the German government and a voice on the world stage, the only obstacle is time. “This cannot wait. The bees, flies and butterflies need urgent action. I’m 59 now and I want to to get them globally protected before I retire so I have to hurry,” she says.

The decline of pollinators will be highlighted in a new global report on genetic resources for food that will be released next year. Based on reports from governments across the world, the draft will show that even agriculture ministries – who have long resisted conservation action – are aware of the need for change.

“Countries are saying that we are using too many pesticides and the number of birds and bees is going down. We need to do something about it or our agricultural systems won’t work,” said Irene Hoffmann, who is leading the study for the Food and Agriculture Organisation. “It’s frustrating and sometimes it’s frightening. The situation is dire, but there are ways to solve it.”

Jonathan Watts



In Burgas Will Be Created Black Sea Center for Blue Growth and Innovation

Свързано изображение


The Black Sea Center for Blue Growth and Innovation will be established in Burgas to bring together scientists, civic organizations, local and state authorities and implement certain EC policies for blue growth. A local working group is currently being formed to shape the concept, after which will seek funding for the project. This is what Prof. Sevdalina Turmanova, Deputy Regional Governor, commented at the National Forum, held in connection with the celebration of the International Black Sea Day in Burgas.

The aim of the Black Sea Blue Growth and Innovation Center is to develop the maritime idea of Bulgaria by providing research, technological solutions and innovations in the Black Sea basin to achieve sustainable blue growth. To develop and build research infrastructure and potential through laboratories, methodologies and technologies. Create partnerships at local and regional level and promote the priorities of the Integrated Maritime Policy. And also to develop tools to support blue innovative projects and ideas.

The main drivers of the idea are the regional administration, the Municipality of Bourgas and the Black Sea Institute, who are ready to set certain policies, tasks and activities on which to stand and hopefully join them to join all institutions, including civil organizations involved in the project.



The programs for laboratories, careers and blue growth that are currently open provide funding opportunities for such a center, “Prof. Turmanova explained. 7 blue laboratories, 7 blue careers and 9 blue innovation growth centers can be funded. All of them are scheduled with a budget and require co-financing from the Bulgarian side. The larger share of funds will be European but co-financing is required, “she said.

In his address to the participants in the forum Mayor Dimitar Nikolov called for the solving of the common ideas and the preservation and development of the common resources. “From the declarative style to the pragmatic effect,” the mayor said.

Manifesto of the European Coalition “Citizens for Science in Pesticide Regulation”

Citizens for Science in Pesticide Regulation – A European Coalition



The European Union has one of the best regulations for pesticides in the world – in theory. But it is not implemented in practice. A new coalition, “Citizens for Science in Pesticide Regulation”, has launched this manifesto to call for reform.

This action comes at a crucial time, when the European Commission is reviewing the pesticides legislation as part of its REFIT programme. In addition, the European Parliament’s PEST committee, convened by concerned MEPs in the wake of the glyphosate reapproval controversy, will deliver its recommendations for reform of the pesticides authorisation process at the end of 2018.


The EU pesticides regulation explicitly prioritises the protection of human and animal health and the environment. It is underpinned by the precautionary principle to ensure that pesticide substances or products placed on the market do not adversely affect human or animal health or the environment.  However, the rules are not implemented properly and the regulatory system allows private interests to take priority over health and the environment.

Major conflicts of interest persist in the pesticides regulatory system. For example, industry does its own safety testing and is heavily involved in designing the methods for risk assessment. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) pesticides panel, responsible for the designing of risk assessment guidelines, continues to include people with financial ties to the agrochemical industry. The EFSA expert groups, which conduct the peer review of the application dossier and publish an opinion on whether it meets the criteria for approval of the pesticide, consist of anonymous national civil servants, whose conflict of interest is unknown. The Monsanto Papers, internal Monsanto documents disclosed in cancer litigation in the USA, show how industry can actively subvert science. It is now clear that industry must be kept at arm’s length from safety testing, risk assessment and risk management.

The result of the failure to properly implement the regulation is a rapid collapse of biodiversity (birds, bees, butterflies, frogs, and insects) in agricultural areas and serious harm to humans (including damage to the brain of the unborn foetus and a steady rise in hormone-related cancers such as breast and prostate). In addition to its failure to protect health and the environment, the current system also fails to protect food security for future generations, since biodiversity, pollinators, and soil fertility – the building blocks of a productive and resilient agriculture – are put at risk by pesticides.


A full reform of the current pesticide risk assessment and risk management systems is required, as follows:

A. Prioritise public health, the environment and sustainable agriculture

  1. The European Commission shall propose the approval of a pesticide substance only when all the scientific evidence shows that the substance or the final product causes no adverse effect on humans, animals, and the environment, all uses proposed by industry are considered safe by EFSA, and no safer alternative (substance or practice) is available.
  2. The Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive must be respected: pesticides must be used only as a last resort when all other non-chemical alternatives have been applied and failed.
  3. The European Commission, as risk manager, shall operate transparently and with accountability. It must fulfil its obligation under the pesticide regulation to prioritise public health and the environment over all other considerations, such as private profit. The decision-making process – the discussions between the European Commission and the Member States, or any other entity – shall be public.
  4. To enable EU farmers to improve their practices without being ‘punished’ by markets, the European Commission shall not place them in a position of unfair competition and shall therefore ban imported products that contain residues of non-approved pesticides, or that contain residues of any pesticide exceeding permitted levels, with no exceptions.

B. Ensure that decision-makers rely on data that is complete, public, up to date, and free from industry bias

  1. Safety testing of pesticides shall be carried out by independent laboratories and not by the pesticide industry itself. The process shall be paid for by an industry-supplied fund that shall be managed by an independent public body such as EFSA.
  2. To prevent cherry-picking of favourable data, all safety studies must be registered in advance. No safety study that is not registered shall be used in support of regulatory authorisation of a pesticide.
  3. All experts involved in risk assessment shall be subject to a strict conflict of interest policy and rules. Any ties to commercial interests will exclude them from the process.
  4. Existing guidelines on risk assessment shall be fully reviewed by independent scientists because in many cases they were designed and promoted by industry and are biased in favour of industry interests.
  5. EU-funded research programmes shall prohibit industry-linked individuals from joining projects that design or evaluate risk assessment methodologies.
  6. The data requirements to assess whether a pesticide should be authorised need to be updated urgently, because major health effects, such as immunotoxicity, endocrine disruption and developmental neurotoxicity, are not adequately covered and the impacts on environmental ecosystems are severely underestimated.
  7. Industry dossiers shall only be accepted into the authorisation process when all required data is delivered, including all independent peer-reviewed publications related to health and environmental effects of the pesticide. Pesticides that do not fulfil all the requirements of the regulation must be banned.
  8. Formulations of pesticides as sold and used (and not just the isolated active ingredient) shall be tested and assessed for crucial endpoints (e.g. mutagenicity, carcinogenicity, developmental toxicity, and endocrine disruption) relevant to humans, mammals and all non-target species, such as bees, birds, frogs, and earthworms.
  9. The cocktails of pesticide residues to which EU citizens are exposed every day must be considered when calculating “safe” daily exposure levels. Until this is implemented, an additional “safety” factor of 10 shall be applied in all pesticide risk assessments. This additional safety factor shall also be applied in the calculation of the acceptable environmental concentrations of pesticides.

C. Enable decision-makers, civil society, and the scientific community to scrutinise the integrity and effectiveness of the policy

  1. All the results and data of all pesticide safety tests shall be published on the internet in a consistent and searchable format.
  2. National authorities shall conduct routine independent post-approval monitoring of the effects of pesticides on health and the environment. The monitoring shall be paid for out of a fund supplied by the pesticides industry but managed by an independent body. There must be no contact on these matters between the monitoring authorities and industry.


If the EU regulation were properly implemented and risk assessment methods were overhauled to be scientifically rigorous and objective, a number of pesticides that were previously deemed safe would be shown to endanger human health and/or the environment and would have to be banned or restricted.

The above-listed reforms would lead to a higher level of protection for health and environment. Given the numerous non-chemical alternatives for plant protection based on ecological methods, the reforms would also stimulate innovation in agriculture in a more sustainable direction. As a result, food security could be guaranteed not only for the present but also for the future, by protecting the basic requirements for agriculture: biodiversity, soil fertility and water quality.

Produced by the “Citizens for Science in Pesticide Regulation”, a coalition of civil society organisations, institutions, scientific and legal experts.


Institutional Supporters

In Alphabetical Order:

Accademia delle Erbe Spontanee

Action Citoyenne OGM Pesticides

Aktion Agrar

Alliance for Cancer Prevention

Asociación de Fibromialgia de Gran Canaria

Asociación Española de Educación Ambiental

Association de Défense de l’Environnement et de la Nature de l’Yonne (ADENY )

Austrian Beekeeping Federation

Austrian Doctors for a Healthy Environment (AGU)

Bat Conservation Ireland

Beyond GM, UK

Biomasa Peninsular


BirdLife Europe

Bodensee Akademie

Breast Cancer Action Germany

Breast Cancer UK


Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND)

Bündnis für eine enkeltaugliche Landwirtschaft e.V.” (Alliance for a Grandchildren-Proof Agriculture)

Bürgerinitiative Landwende e.V. (Citizens’ Initiative for an Agricultural Turnaround, Germany)

Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)

Centre for Sustainable Alternatives (CEPTA)

Česko proti chudobě a nerovnostem (Czechia Against Poverty and Inequalities)


Circular Economy – VšĮ “Žiedine ekonomika”


Colibri Foundation

Coop Denmark

Coordination against BAYER-dangers

Corporate Europe Observatory

DNR- Deutscher Naturschutzring

Docteur ès Psychologie, Neuropsychologie

Društvo za opazovanje in proučevanje ptic Slovenije (DOPPS-Birdlife Slovenia)

Dutch Bee Conservation, Bijenlint

Earth Thrive

Eco Design Competence Center, Latvia

Eco Hvar Croatia


Ecologistas en Accion

Estonian Green Movement (Friends of the Earth Estonia)

European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR)

European Environmental Burreau (EEB)

European Federation of Trade Unions in the Food, Agriculture and Tourism (EFFAT)

European Network for Community-led Initiatives on Climate Change  and Sustainability (ECOLISE)

European Network on Ecological Reflection and Action (EcoRopa)

European Professional Beekeepers Association (EPBA)

Federation of Beekeeping Associations in Romania (ROMAPIS)

Fondo para la Defensa de la Salud Ambiental (Fodesam)

Foro Asturias Sostenible

France Nature Environnement (FNE)

Friends of the Earth Spain

Fundacion Alborada

Fundación Amigos de las Abejas

Fundación VivoSano

Gemeinnützigen Netzwerks für UmweltKranke (Genuk)

Generations Futures

Global 2000 (Friends of the Earth Austria)

GLS Bank, Germany

GM Watch

Grüne Liga

Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL)

Health Environment Justice Support (HEJ-support)

Institut Marquès

Institute for Sustainable Development Slovenia

Instituto Ramazzini

Inter-Environnement Wallonie (IEW)

International Society of Doctors for Environment (ISDE )

International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF)

Justice Pesticides, France

Kleinbauern-Vereinigung VKMB, Bern, Switzerland

Kom op Tegen Kanker, Belgium

La Ribera en Bici

Leefmilieu, Netherlands

Legambiente, Italy

Medical School Kapodistrian University of Athens

Natur&ëmwelt a.s.b.l.

Nature & Progrès Belgique

Naturschutzbund Deutschlan – NABU

Navdanya International

NOAH (Friends of the Earth Denmark)

Open House

Pesticide Action Network Europe

Pesticide Action Network Germany

Pesticide Action Network Italy

Pesticide Action Network UK

Plan B for Slovenia

Plataforma por um comércio international justo (TROCA)


Povod institute for culture and the development of international relations in culture

proBiene – Freies Institut für ökologische Bienenhaltung

Public Eye

Quercus-National Association for Nature Conservation

Réseau Environnement Santé, France

Rezero- Fundació per a la Prevenció de Residus i el Consum

Ruskin Mill Trust

Safe Food Advocacy Europe

Save our Seeds

SFC-SQM Madrid

Slow Food Europe

Slow Food Valencia

SOS Polinizadores


Suspergintza Elkartea

The Cancer Prevention and Education Society

The Danish Ecological Council (EcoCouncil)

The Danish Society for Nature Conservation

Umweltinstitut München e. V. (Environment Institute Munich)

Union Nationale de l’Apiculture Française

University of Salento, Centro Di Ricerca Euro Americano sulle Politiche Costituzionali  (CEDEUAM), Italy


Via Pontica Foundation


Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF)

Women Engage for a Common Future International (WECF)

WWOOF France

ZERO – Associação Sistema Terrestre Sustentável

Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft (ZSL)

Individual Supporters

Dr Fiorella Belpoggi, Head of the Research Area,  Ramazzini Institute, Bologna, Italy; Dr. Peter Clausing, toxicologist, PAN Germany; Mr Paul Whaley, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, UK ; Prof. Barbara Demeneix, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France ; Dr Aleksandra Čavoški, University of Birmingham, UK; Dr Michael Antoniou, Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics, King’s College London, UK; Dr Robin Mesnage, Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics, King’s College London, UK; Prof. Erik Millstone, Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex, UK; Prof. Brian Wynne, Centre for the Study of Environmental Change, Lancaster University, UK; Doz. Dr. Hanns Moshammer, Environmental Health, Medical University of Vienna, Austria; Dr. P. Nicolopoulou-Stamati, Prof. Environmental Pathology, Medical School, Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece; Mr. Carlos de Prada, Environmental Journalist, Global 500 Award of United Nations, Spain; Cristina Amaro da Costa, Polytechnic Institute of Viseu, Portugal; Prof. Michele Carducci, Centro di Ricerca EuroAmericano sulle Politiche Costituzionali CEDEUAM, Universita del Salento, Italy; Tanya van der Wacht and René Dekker, Westerwinkel, Germany; Terence J Roe, Whitton House, The Netherlands; Dra. Marisa Lopez-Teijon, CEO of Institut Marquès, Spain; Dr. Gottfried Arnold, Pediatrician, Germany; Prof. Miquel Porta, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB IMIM), Spain; Dra. Mariana F. Fernandez, Assosiate Professor, University of Granada, Spain; Dr. Gottfried Arnold, Pediatrician, Germany; Dr. Walther Enßlin, Germany; Prof. Gerhard Hägele, Hilden, Germany; Assoc. Prof. Dr. Johann Zaller, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria; Prof. Dr. Matthias Liess, UFZ-Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Germany.

ENVI Committee Says “Yes” to 35 Per Cent Recycled Content in Plastic Bottles


FEAD (European Federation of Waste Management and Environmental Services) welcomes the European Parliament’s ENVI Committee’s vote (Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety) on October 10 which amends the proposal for a Directive on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment (“Single-Use Plastics” Directive).

FEAD fully supports the report which would make it mandatory to produce beverage containers composed of at least 35 per cent recycled plastic by 2025:

“This proposal, as acknowledged in the report, will encourage the creation of a steady market for recyclates, and will ensure a more circular use of plastics. It is a key measure in shifting away from the ever increasing production of single-use use plastic bottles, while recyclable ones do not follow the same trend. Collecting up to 90 per cent plastic bottles in 2025, as proposed in the Directive, is a welcomed first step but will not be enough to steer the plastic markets towards less single-use bottles. Designing recyclable packaging items is necessary to facilitate recycling, and a strong signal is needed to boost both the offer of recyclable plastics and the demand of recycled plastics. The European Parliament’s report to include at least 35 per cent of recycled plastics in beverage containers is a crucial first step in this direction, and we fully support its inclusion in the legal text.

Our industry Is Prepared

Indeed, up to Euro 10 billion worth of investments will be needed in our sector to innovate and expand the separate collection, sorting and recycling capacity, for all plastics, at EU level. Our industry is prepared to make the necessary investments if there are legislative measures ensuring a significant uptake of plastic recyclates; which is becoming even more necessary by the minute in view of the Chinese ban on imports of certain waste streams. Transforming the vision of a new plastics economy into reality will require joined efforts throughout the entire plastics value chain.

FEAD hopes that the ENVI Committee’s positive vote of October 10 will result in an equally favourable vote on October 23 during the plenary session when the time comes for all MEPs to decide if they want mandatory recycled content in plastic bottles to be part of their legacy. This is the European Parliament’s last opportunity to act before the end of their mandate: if not now, the EU will lose at least three years!”

Source: FEAD

UN Report on Global Warming Carries Life-Or-Death Warning


Preventing an extra single degree of heat could make a life-or-death difference in the next few decades for multitudes of people and ecosystems on this fast-warming planet, an international panel of scientists reported Sunday. But they provide little hope the world will rise to the challenge.

The Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its gloomy report at a meeting in Incheon, South Korea.

In the 728-page document, the U.N. organization detailed how Earth’s weather, health and ecosystems would be in better shape if the world’s leaders could somehow limit future human-caused warming to just 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit (a half degree Celsius) from now, instead of the globally agreed-upon goal of 1.8 degrees F (1 degree C). Among other things:

— Half as many people would suffer from lack of water.

— There would be fewer deaths and illnesses from heat, smog and infectious diseases.

— Seas would rise nearly 4 inches (0.1 meters) less.

— Half as many animals with back bones and plants would lose the majority of their habitats.

— There would be substantially fewer heat waves, downpours and droughts.

— The West Antarctic ice sheet might not kick into irreversible melting.

— And it just may be enough to save most of the world’s coral reefs from dying.

“For some people this is a life-or-death situation without a doubt,” said Cornell University climate scientist Natalie Mahowald, a lead author on the report.

Limiting warming to 0.9 degrees from now means the world can keep “a semblance” of the ecosystems we have. Adding another 0.9 degrees on top of that — the looser global goal — essentially means a different and more challenging Earth for people and species, said another of the report’s lead authors, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, Australia.

But meeting the more ambitious goal of slightly less warming would require immediate, draconian cuts in emissions of heat-trapping gases and dramatic changes in the energy field. While the U.N. panel says technically that’s possible, it saw little chance of the needed adjustments happening.

In 2010, international negotiators adopted a goal of limiting warming to 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) since pre-industrial times. It’s called the 2-degree goal. In 2015, when the nations of the world agreed to the historic Paris climate agreement, they set dual goals: 2 degrees C and a more demanding target of 1.5 degrees C from pre-industrial times. The 1.5 was at the urging of vulnerable countries that called 2 degrees a death sentence.

The world has already warmed 1 degree C since pre-industrial times, so the talk is really about the difference of another half-degree C or 0.9 degrees F from now.

“There is no definitive way to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 above pre-industrial levels,” the U.N.-requested report said. More than 90 scientists wrote the report, which is based on more than 6,000 peer reviews.

“Global warming is likely to reach 1.5 degrees C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate,” the report states.

Deep in the report, scientists say less than 2 percent of 529 of their calculated possible future scenarios kept warming below the 1.5 goal without the temperature going above that and somehow coming back down in the future.

The pledges nations made in the Paris agreement in 2015 are “clearly insufficient to limit warming to 1.5 in any way,” one of the study’s lead authors, Joerj Roeglj of the Imperial College in London, said.

“I just don’t see the possibility of doing the one and a half” and even 2 degrees looks unlikely, said Appalachian State University environmental scientist Gregg Marland, who isn’t part of the U.N. panel but has tracked global emissions for decades for the U.S. Energy Department. He likened the report to an academic exercise wondering what would happen if a frog had wings.

Yet report authors said they remain optimistic.

Limiting warming to the lower goal is “not impossible but will require unprecedented changes,” U.N. panel chief Hoesung Lee said in a news conference in which scientists repeatedly declined to spell out just how feasible that goal is. They said it is up to governments to decide whether those unprecedented changes are acted upon.

“We have a monumental task in front of us, but it is not impossible,” Mahowald said earlier. “This is our chance to decide what the world is going to look like. ”

To limit warming to the lower temperature goal, the world needs “rapid and far-reaching” changes in energy systems, land use, city and industrial design, transportation and building use, the report said. Annual carbon dioxide pollution levels that are still rising now would have to drop by about half by 2030 and then be near zero by 2050. Emissions of other greenhouse gases, such as methane, also will have to drop. Switching away rapidly from fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas to do this could be more expensive than the less ambitious goal, but it would clean the air of other pollutants. And that would have the side benefit of avoiding more than 100 million premature deaths through this century, the report said.

“Climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security and economic growth are projected to increase with global warming” the report said, adding that the world’s poor are more likely to get hit hardest.

Princeton University climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer said extreme weather, especially heat waves, will be deadlier if the lower goal is passed.

Meeting the tougher-to-reach goal “could result in around 420 million fewer people being frequently exposed to extreme heat waves, and about 65 million fewer people being exposed to exceptional heat waves,” the report said. The deadly heat waves that hit India and Pakistan in 2015 will become practically yearly events if the world reaches the hotter of the two goals, the report said.

Coral and other ecosystems are also at risk. The report said warmer water coral reefs “will largely disappear.”

The outcome will determine whether “my grandchildren would get to see beautiful coral reefs,” Princeton’s Oppenheimer said.

For scientists there is a bit of “wishful thinking” that the report will spur governments and people to act quickly and strongly, one of the panel’s leaders, German biologist Hans-Otto Portner said. “If action is not taken it will take the planet into an unprecedented climate future.”

By Seth Borenstein | AP

Common Weed Killer Linked to Bee Deaths


The world’s most widely used weed killer may also be indirectly killing bees. New research from The University of Texas at Austin shows that honey bees exposed to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, lose some of the beneficial bacteria in their guts and are more susceptible to infection and death from harmful bacteria.

Scientists believe this is evidence that glyphosate might be contributing to the decline of honey bees and native bees around the world.

“We need better guidelines for glyphosate use, especially regarding bee exposure, because right now the guidelines assume bees are not harmed by the herbicide,” said Erick Motta, the graduate student who led the research, along with professor Nancy Moran. “Our study shows that’s not true.”

The findings are published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Because glyphosate interferes with an important enzyme found in plants and microorganisms, but not in animals, it has long been assumed to be nontoxic to animals, including humans and bees. But this latest study shows that by altering a bee’s gut microbiome — the ecosystem of bacteria living in the bee’s digestive tract, including those that protect it from harmful bacteria — glyphosate compromises its ability to fight infection.

The researchers exposed honey bees to glyphosate at levels known to occur in crop fields, yards and roadsides. The researchers painted the bees’ backs with colored dots so they could be tracked and later recaptured. Three days later, they observed that the herbicide significantly reduced healthy gut microbiota. Of eight dominant species of healthy bacteria in the exposed bees, four were found to be less abundant. The hardest hit bacterial species, Snodgrassella alvi, is a critical microbe that helps bees process food and defend against pathogens.

The bees with impaired gut microbiomes also were far more likely to die when later exposed to an opportunistic pathogen, Serratia marcescens, compared with bees with healthy guts. Serratia is a widespread opportunistic pathogen that infects bees around the world. About half of bees with a healthy microbiome were still alive eight days after exposure to the pathogen, while only about a tenth of bees whose microbiomes had been altered by exposure to the herbicide were still alive.

“Studies in humans, bees and other animals have shown that the gut microbiome is a stable community that resists infection by opportunistic invaders,” Moran said. “So if you disrupt the normal, stable community, you are more susceptible to this invasion of pathogens.”

Based on their results, Motta and Moran recommend that farmers, landscapers and homeowners avoid spraying glyphosate-based herbicides on flowering plants that bees are likely to visit.

More than a decade ago, U.S. beekeepers began finding their hives decimated by what became known as colony collapse disorder. Millions of bees mysteriously disappeared, leaving farms with fewer pollinators for crops. Explanations for the phenomenon have included exposure to pesticides or antibiotics, habitat loss and bacterial infections. This latest study adds herbicides as a possible contributing factor.

“It’s not the only thing causing all these bee deaths, but it is definitely something people should worry about because glyphosate is used everywhere,” said Motta.

Native bumble bees have microbiomes similar to honey bees, so Moran said it’s likely that they would be affected by glyphosate in a similar way.

Journal Reference:

Erick V. S. Motta, Kasie Raymann, Nancy A. Moran. Glyphosate perturbs the gut microbiota of honey bees. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2018; 201803880 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1803880115


Echo Seminar on the Implementation of an International Cleanup Project on the Black Sea Was Held in Burgas


In Expocenter “Flora” of Burgas was held an echo seminar on topic “The Impact of Solid Waste Pollution in the Black Sea and Other Aspects of Environmental Protection” on 2-3 October 2018, in which prominent scientists and lecturers, working in the field of environmental protection and sustainable use of natural resources took part.



The seminar was opened by Sevdalina Tourmanova, Deputy Governor, Professor at Prof. A. Zlatarov University and regional representative of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in the Burgas and region. Ruska Boyadzhieva, Deputy Mayor of European Policies and the Environment, also welcomed the speech. The seminar also includes representatives of the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Water – Burgas and the “Black Sea Region” Basin Directorate.



The seminar is part of 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”, which will be implemented jointly with partners from Romania (University of Constanta) and Georgia (Tbilisi State University), the leading partner is the Via Pontica Foundation, Bulgaria.



The project starts in the second half of August 2018 and will last for 30 months until February 2021. Its main objective is to reduce pollution of the Black Sea basin by tracking and analyzing the main waste streams and carrying out pilot activities to clean pre-defined areas of marine litter. A computerized map will also be developed during implementation to provide for waste movements, a Hot Spot Identification Method and Guidelines for Environmentally Friendly Marine Litter Management will be developed as well as a project documentary. Cross-border cleaning campaigns will be organized.



The main topics discussed during the first day of the seminar were: “Discharges and Coastal Emitters”, “Pollution of the Black Sea with Plastic Waste”, “Plastics and Lagoons in the World – What Are the Dangers for the Black Sea”, “Remote and visual observations of marine litter”, “Monitoring of Marine Waste on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast”, “Monitoring of waste deposited on the seabed”, “Methods for Sample Collection, Distribution and Evaluation” and “Presentation of the More Care Project, funded under the Bulgaria – Turkey Cross-Border Cooperation Programme”.



During the second day were reviewed and discussed: “Waste in the Black Sea – People’s Responsibility to the Sustainable Development of the Marine Ecosystem”, “Black Sea Pollution Risk Assessment”, “Ships as a Source of Pollution of the Black Sea with Solid Waste”,  “How Do We, as Consumers, Influence the Pollution of the Black Sea and What Each of Us Can Do Right Now”,  “Ringing as a Method for studying Bird Migration and Some Interesting Ringing Results Conducted in the Atanasovsko Lake Reserve”,  “Plastics pollution on the Black Sea” (remote from Germany) and “Ecological Problems of the Black Sea”.



During the seminar lively discussions took place, including on the main issues that are the subject of the forum.



The name of the selected theme itself is a challenge, and certainly the opinions expressed in this forum will be a very important contribution to defining the objectives, benefits and ways of successful implementation of the Black Sea Joint Operational Programme 2014-2020, funded by the EU.

Press Conference on the Launch of the Project “Innovative Techniques and Methods for Reducing Marine Litter in the Black Sea Coastal Areas”


In the meeting room of the Municipality of Burgas from 10.00 am on 27.09.2018 an initial press conference was held on the launch of 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”, which will be implemented jointly with partners from Romania (University of Constanta) and Georgia (Tbilisi State University), the leading partner is the Via Pontica Foundation, Bulgaria.

With a multimedia presentation Mrs. Ruska Boyadjieva, Deputy Mayor of European Policies and Environment in the Municipality of Burgas and Mrs. Ina Aganfonova, Founder and Chairman of the Management Board of the Via Pontica Foundation, introduced the objectives, the planned activities and the expected results of the project.



The main objective – the development of innovative techniques and methods for reducing marine litter in the Black Sea coastal areas, aimed at protecting the cleanliness of the Black Sea and coastal areas, as well as the specific objectives of the project will be implemented by partners from the three countries, which to analyze the load, to track the main polluting streams and to clean up waste in selected threatened areas. The available information will be gathered in a common database, with the task of identifying the path of major waste streams, linking them to air and sea currents, and locating potential concentration points. To accomplish this task, a computer map of waste distribution will be made to predict their movements. Cross-border cleaning campaigns will be organized.



During the implementation, a Hot Spot Identification Method and Guidelines for Environmentally Friendly Marine Litter Management will be developed as well as a project documentary.

The project starts in the second half of August 2018 and will last for 30 months until February 2021.

The press conference was widely reported in the media. 36 of them introduced to its readers, listeners and viewers the project, its function, initiatives and expected results.



The next event of the project is a seminar on “The Impact of Solid Waste Pollution in the Black Sea and Other Aspects of Environmental Protection” to be held at the Flora Expo Center in the period of 2-3 October 2018. It will take involving prominent scientists and lecturers working in the field of environmental protection and sustainable use of natural resources.