Project's activities



As of end of September 2016
 

Action A1 - Development of technological afforestation plans for Plovdiv RFD

Status: Completed
 
The objective of this action was to develop technological afforestation plans for the afforestation in the areas of Plovdiv Regional Forestry Directorate (RFD) within Reka Maritza SCI. The plans set out the forestry compartments, suitable reproduction material – type, quantity, quality and origin, species composition, numbers of species, type of soil preparation, afforestation schemes and a detailed list of actions needed (storage of saplings, soil preparation, planting, cultivation etc.).
 
The action is completed. Technological afforestation plans were developed and approved, letter of approval by Plovdiv RIEW was issued.
In the process of implementation of the project, more specifically in May 2015, it was found that the initially selected places for restoration are not anymore property of the state forest fund but were transferred to Hydro melioration system. We couldn’t come to an agreement with the owner of the land to implement restoration activities on these places. In order to achieve the project goals, new areas suitable for restoration were searched and selected. We would like to point out that there is no change in the Natura 2000 site, no change in the area.
 
The new area selected for restoration is owned by Maritsa Municipality. 
 

Action A2 - Development of technological afforestation plans for Ruse RFD

 
Status: Completed

The objective of this action was to develop technological afforestation plans for the afforestation in the areas of Ruse Regional Forestry Directorate (RFD) within Marten-Riahovo SCI. The plans set out the forestry compartments, suitable reproduction material – type, quantity, quality and origin, species composition, numbers of species, type of soil preparation, afforestation schemes and a detailed list of actions needed (storage of saplings, soil preparation, planting, cultivation etc.).
 
The action is completed. Technological afforestation plans were developed and approved. A letter of approval by Ruse RIEW was issued.

Action A3 - Development of technological afforestation plan and preparation for applying elements of the Saarland method


Status: Completed
 
The objective of this action was to (i) develop the technological afforestation plan for the afforestation in Reka Maritza SCI, as well as (ii) develop the plans for applying elements of the so called “Saarland method” for removing alien species and providing better growing conditions to the local species of trees in selected areas within Reka Maritza and Marten-Riahovo SCIs.
 
The action was successfully completed.
Change in the place for afforestation within “Reka Maritsa” SCI: In the process of implementation of Action 3 it was found that the ownership of the place selected for afforestation with local tree species (e.g. afforestation of 14 dekars – sub-compartment “11щ” within the territory of Parvomay SFU) has been changed: from state forest land of Parvomay SFU to municipal owned land. This change of the status of the ownership has not been reflected in the forest database correctly and in time, and Parvomay SFU was not aware that sub-compartment “11щ” is no longer their property. On a national scale, this is not a single case, and is a result from the imperfections of the forest restitution process.
An agreement with the owner of the parcel, e.g. the Municipality was not reached, thus we searched and found another suitable location to afforestate and to meet the project objectives. The new place is within the state forest territory of Asenovgrad SFU.
We would like to point out that there is no change in the Natura 2000 site and no change in the area but only a replacement of the previously selected forest compartments.

 

Action A4 - Preparation of a Manual for restoration and management of riverine forests


Status: In progress

The main objective of the manual is to support the specialists dealing with restoration and management of riparian forests in the region by providing information and know-how on the following aspects: Characteristics and importance of riparian forest habitats;  Legal Aspects related to the restoration and management of riparian forest habitats;  Problems and conflicts in the management of riparian forest habitats;  Experience in the restoration and management of riparian forests; Measures for management and restoration of riparian forest habitats. A special attention is given to the targeted project habitat 91E0, but other riparian habitats (e.g. 92А0, 91F0, 92С0 and 92D0) are also taken into consideration.
The working group of internal and external experts (expert in phytocenology, expert in hydrotechnology and experts in forestry) is established. Regular internal communication is taking place between the members of the expert working group.
 
We plan to develop the Pre-final Draft of the Manual - by April 2017. We envisage to present the subsequent draft of the Manual to the attention of relevant experts. Important lessons learnt from the implementation of the current project will be incorporated in the Final Manual (to be developed by August 2018). The Manual will be available in electronic format on Project Website. The Manual will be submitted to the relevant authorities (MOEW, River Basin Directorates, RIEWs, MAF, EFA, SFEs and their subdivisions, RFBs, District Administrations) and interested stakeholder (e.g. Universities, Research institutions, NGOs, etc).

Action A5 - Analysis of connectivity between the target sites and other Natura 2000 sites

 
Status: Completed
 
The objective of this action was to make analysis of the connectivity of the target Natura 2000 site, Reka Marista SCI, BG0000578 with 4 neighbouring sites and the role provided by riparian habitats and other natural elements.
The work done includes the following:
1. Selection of the 4 sites on which the connectivity with Reka Marista SCI was analysed. The sites selected are: BG0000628 – Chirpanski vazvishenia SCI, BG0000436 – Reka Mechka SCI, BG0000438 – Reka Chinardere SCI and BG0002086 – Orizishta Tsalapitsa SCI.
2. Selection of “focus” species from different groups for which the structural or functional connectivity with the other sites is of key importance for migration, vulnerability to fragmentation, need to settling new habitats due to climate change;
3. Identification of the species – specific requirements to the landscape which provide permeability, functional or structural connectivity. A total of 10 species were considered for the purpose;
4. GIS analysis and mapping of connecting territories and development of 3 maps;
5. Analysis of spatial planning documents – district development Plan, Municipal Spatial Plans, River basin Management Plans, Forestry Management Plans revealing the extent to which the current land use of connecting territories is protected;
6. Current and potential threats in terms of connectivity were identified;
7. Recommendations on spatial planning measures which would guarantee the protection of connecting territories;
8. Potential locations for future restoration activities with a view to improve permeability of the landscape were identified.
 
The action was completed successfully and in addition to what was planned we decided to submit the analysis to the relevant municipalities (a total of 11 municipalities). The aim is to contribute to any relevant initiatives stemming from the municipal plans and more specifically to initiatives for development of green infrastructure and establishment of bio corridors between the Natura 2000 SCIs in the region.
 

Action C1 - Restoration of the habitat 91E0* by planting saplings of local tree species in Reka Maritsa SCI (BG0000578)
 

Status: In progress

This activity is focused on restoration of the habitat 91Е0* in Reka Maritsa SCI on a total area of 12,8 ha
 
The activity was implemented by the sequence of the following steps: 
Soil preparation: it was carried out with machines on a total area of 128 decares (12.8 ha) It was completed in the autumn of 2015; 
Planting of the saplings – 47 960 saplings of Quercus robur, Ulmus minor, Ulmus laevis, Fraxinus angustifolia, Alnus glutinosa, Polulus nigra and Alnus incana were planted by machinery and manually in holes made by using machinery. The planting was made in the spring of 2016 over an area of 12,8 ha. 
Nursing (tending), incl. manual weeding and watering of the young plants was implemented. 
As a result an area of 12,8 ha was afforested with saplings from 7 characteristic species.

Action C2 - Restoration of the habitat 91E0 by planting saplings of local tree species along the Danube


Status: In progress. 

This activity is focused on restoration of the habitat 91Е0 in in Marten – Ryahovo SCI on a total area of 9,8 ha.Achieved versus planned: The activity was implemented by the sequence of the following steps:

Soil preparation: carried out with machines on a total area of 98 decares ( 9.8ha). The activity on soil preparation took place in the spring and in early autumn of 2015. Since the area was used as hybrid poplar plantation, soil preparation included also eradication and chopping of stumps and other specific activities, such as clearing and trenching in order to prepare the area for planting. 
Planting of the saplings (large-sized saplings) – about 8 500 saplings of Salix alba and Populus nigra were planted in the autumn of 2015. As a good practice can be mentioned that during the restoration activities the existing individuals of local tree species were kept. 
Nursing (tending, cultivation) the young plants – includes manual digging and loosening the top soil by machines. Till end September 2016 there were two cultivations.
 

Action C3 - Restoration of the habitat 91E0 by applying elements from the Saarland method in Marten-Ryahovo SCI and Reka Maritsa SCI and planting local tree species in Reka Maritsa SCI

 
Status: In progress

The proposed action includes implementation of the elements of the Saarland method and planting of young trees from the typical species for 91E0 habitat. The sites where this action is takeing place are Marten- Ryahovo and Reka Maritsa SCIs. The areas for restoration are as follows: 1,4ha (afforestation) and 1,8ha (restoration by applying Saarland method) within Reka Maritsa SCI; and 22.3 ha (restoration by applying Saarland method) within Marten- Ryahovo SCI.
  
Saarland method was applied on a total of 24,1 ha of 91E0 in Marten –Ryahovo SCI and Reka Maritsa SCI with the main goal of removing invasive species and improving structural characteristics and species composition of the habitat.
 
A total of 1,4 ha of 91E0 habitat in Reka Maritsa SCI – were afforested with saplings of 6 species (Populus nigra, Salix alba, Fraxinus angustifolia, Alnus incana, Quercus robur Pyrus communis,) and acorns of Quercus robur; tending/nursing of the young stand is taking place. During the summer of 2016 – watering and weeding was carried out.

 

Action D1 - Monitoring of the impact of afforestation activities  


Status: In progress
 
This action provides for adaptive management, analyses and conclusions about the success of the restoration activities within Action C1 and C2. This Action is taking place throughout the project implementation.
In the autumn of 2015 (November 2015) the first monitoring visit took place in Marten- Riahovo SCI. Places of project intervention were inspected and a monitoring protocol has been developed.
 
The visit of the restoration site under Action C1 is planned to take place until June 2017.
 

Action D2 - Monitoring of the impact of restoration activities implemented by WWF   

 
Status: In progress
 
This action provides for adaptive management, analyses and conclusions about the success of the restoration activities within Action C3. This Action is taking place throughout the project implementation.
The visits to Reka - Maritsa SCI were numerous and objects being restored under C1 and C3 were visited. 
 
Three monitoring protocols were developed so far. Monitoring protocols were prepared on different stages of implementation of the restoration operations.

So far, no monitoring visit was made to Marten-Riahovo SCI. However, a such is planned to take place by June 2017.
 

Action D3 - Monitoring of socio-economic impact and ecosystem function

 

Status: not started yet
 
The implementation of the Action lies ahead.

Action E1 - Brochure on floodplain forest restoration experience in the region

 
Status: In progress
 
This action is aimed at developing a full-colour bilingual specialized brochure of 20 pages in Bulgarian / English in 500 copies. The brochure is a typical communication and education tool which targets a wider audience. It presents experience gained from previously performed conservation work in floodplain forests within the Danube - Carpathian region with particular attention to work already done for the restoration of aquatic, riparian and forest habitats and the reproduction of forest and plant species in Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria.

The brochure was delayed and postponed for end of 2016.
 

Action E2 - Web site maintenance and work with media

Status: In progress
 
This action provides for communicating important project achievements, as well as information to broad audience about riparian forests, their restoration, management, etc., as well as informing regularly about forthcoming events within the current project and the progress in its implementation. The Project webpage is to be maintained and regularly updated.

The project web-site is established and maintained. It is available in Bulgarian and English.

We took part in the International Day of Forests - 21st March by preparing and sending information and photos regarding the Project- A press release and two interviews on National Radio Programmes about the International Day of Forests. From the beginning of the project till the end of August 2016 there have been published 29 news, regarding the activities and events of the project.

During the reporting period we sent 4 press-releases to media.
 

Action E3 - Production and placement of information notice boards

Status: Completed
 

Boards with a description of the project objectives and activities with the logo of Life+ are produced for each of the project sites.
 
Six boards were produced in June 2015 – for WWF and for the regional forest directorates in Ruse and Plovdiv. They were placed at the project locations.
 

Action E4 - Layman’s report

Status: Not started
 

This action is planned for later stages of the project. We’ll start developing the Laymen’s report in 2018.
 

Action E5 - Riparian forest exhibition

Status: In progress
 
The exhibition of 25 pictures aims to present in an attractive way the values, importance, biodiversity and threats to riparian forests, as well as project sites and the Project itself. 

The Riparian forests exhibition was prepared and produced in time – by the end of August 2015. It was officially opened in Plovdiv at the beginning of the September 2015 and then it was placed there one more time (November 2015) as well as in Pazardzhik (October 2015). The exhibition was opened in the second project area – Rose – from the end of June 2016 till the end of August 2016.
Roughly, about 1000 people saw the exposition so far.

Action E6 – Forests and River Day

Status: In progress
 

Forests and River Day is planned to be organized twice in the project sites. The idea is to bring children between 8-16 years and their teachers to the restoration sites; explain them the specifics of riparian forests, link between the forests and rivers and the biodiversity there.
 
The first River and Forest Day was held a bit earlier than planned, e.g. on 1st of April 2016 in „Gusterova odaia“. The saplings needed to be marked with wooden poles and paint, in order to be more visible against the weeds. Fifteen kids, 5-th grade, (12 – 13 years old) and their teachers from the local school in Popovitza village took part. Foresters from Asenovgrad forest management unit also took part in the practical work and the discussion.

Action F1 - Project management – EFA

Status: In progress
 

The objective of this action is to ensure optimal and efficient project implementation and achievement of expected results in compliance with proposed project objectives.

The EFA has set up its project team, consisting of a project director, project financial manager, project coordinator and forest expert. A team meeting of project partners and the Steering Committee was conducted in Sofia (14 Dec 2015).

Good communication with the associated beneficiaries is kept via telephone, skype, face-to-face meetings, etc.
 

Action F2 - Project coordination – WWF

Status: In progress

Part of the project management – operational management and implementation coordination –is transferred from the coordinating beneficiary to WWF DCP Bulgaria. WWF DCP Bulgaria as an associated beneficiary represented by the project coordinator and project accountant is responsible for the overall coordination of the project.
 
WWF BG has set up its project team, consisting of a project coordinator, project financial manager, technical assistant, biodiversity expert, forest expert and communicator.  In December 2015 a meeting was organised. Forthcoming project activities were discussed, as well as the timeline.
 
Regular communication between project partners is maintained via Skype, phone, e-mail and/or face-to-face meetings.
 
At the end of May 2016 was held the second project LIFE Mission. Project locations in Reka Maritsa SCI were visited.

Action F3 - Project co-ordination RFD Plovdiv

Status: In progress

Plovdiv RFD has set up its project team, consisting of a local project co-ordinator, 2 forestry experts, accountant, public procurement specialist.  As part of the implementation of this Action, RFD organizes the supervision, control and implementation of the relevant project activities in a systematic way.
 
During the reporting period the following was done:
  • Participation in team project meeting in Sofia (14 Dec. 2015);
  • Hosting and participating in the Second monitoring visit  (26 – 27 May 2015);
  • Hosting and participating in working meeting with WWF BG in Plovdiv  and project sites visits
  • Local work meetings among staff members and with other relevant stakeholders to present the project and discuss the progress in the project implementation
  • Regular communication with project partners
  • organising the implementation of all project activities at the local level
  • technical reporting on the RFDs project activities
  • providing information to the public on local level on project objective and implementation
  • ensuring financial flows for projects actions
  • financial and technical reporting on the RFDs project activities, preparation of quarterly report. 

Action F4 - Project coordination – Ruse RFD

Status: In progress

Ruse RFD has set up its project team, consisting of a local project co-ordinator, 2 forestry experts, accountant, public procurement specialist.  As part of the implementation of this Action, RFD organizes the supervision, control and implementation of the relevant project activities
 
During the reporting period the following was done:
  • Participation in team project meeting in Sofia (14 Dec. 2015);
  • Hosting and participating in the monitoring visit held by EFA to the project restoration sites in Marten-Riahovo SCI;
  • Local work meetings among staff members and with other relevant stakeholders to present the project and discuss the progress in the project implementation
  • Regular communication with project partners
  • organising the implementation of all project activities at the local level
  • technical reporting on the RFDs project activities
  • providing information to the public on local level on project objective and implementation
  • ensuring financial flows for projects actions
  • financial and technical reporting on the RFDs project activities, preparation of quarterly report. 
 

Action F5 - Networking and study visits

Status: In progress
 

The objective of this activity is to exchange experience with other riparian forest restoration projects abroad (e.g. Hungary) and in Bulgaria. This activity provides for experience exchange and therefore synergy with other projects funded by LIFE+.
 
Initially this Action was planned for the spring of 2015. However, during the First Monitoring mission in January 2015 a suggestion was made to postpone it for 2016 in order to advance with the conservation actions prior.

During the reporting period two networking visits were organized and held, as follows:
1) A national study visit during 16 – 18 May 2016. Field trips and visits within state forest management units (Lom, Oriahovo and Svishtov along Danube river) were held. We visited the Danube islands Kovachev, Kozloduy, Goliam and Malak Vardim, and our colleagues from the forestry in Lom, Oriahovo and Svistov shared lessons learnt from their experience.
2) Study visit abroad to Hungarian national park Danube-Drava and the island of Mosquito and Liberty in the period 29 June – 2 July 2016. A special focus was given to the Life+ funded project for restoration on Liberty island

Action F6 – Audit

Status: In progress
 
The aim of the action is to use independent auditors who can certify that all costs incurred in the project respect LIFE+ Common Provisions as well as national legislation and accounting rules.

Audit Company was selected. The first interim project audit started and is expected to be finalized by end on November 2016. It covers the period from the beginning of the project till the end of 2015.

There will be subsequent interim audits covering 2016 and 2017 and a final one.
 

Action F7 - After-LIFE Conservation Plan

Status: Not started yet
 
This action is planned for a later stage of the project. However initial meetings were held among project partners to discuss the possible options.