As GR-BG 2014-2020 CBC admits, “the CB area exhibits … one of the highest densities of protected sites”. It admits that they are under pressure and under various threats like various illegal activities and climate change. Constantly increasing anthropogenic activities within or in the immediate vicinity of protected areas (PAs) and the inadequate level of their administration capacity are the major threats to the sustainability and the optimum management of PAs. It should be also noted that PAs hidden values should come to the light for the mutual benefit of PAs and local population.
Last but not least, as CBC identifies, CB cooperation for PAs Management Bodies (PA MBs) remains at a low level, because “… most interventions through CBC GR-BG 2007-2013 were ‘parallel’ in character and not genuinely ‘joint’”. So CBC suggests as main identified needs the “…cross-border coordination in mapping, assessing, valuating and monitoring ecosystems”. Such a guideline sets the ground partners to initiate building a project proposal bottom-up.
The BIO2CARE project’s overall objective is “to reinforce PA MBs efficiency and effectiveness in an innovative and integrated approach”. This is in full compliance with CBC GR-BG 2014-20 objective, as it promotes territorial cooperation in a very concrete and well-defined approach. BIO2CARE main objective is to enhance PA MBs administrative capacities on the benefit of biodiversity as of local communities. This is in full compliance with programme priority specific objective: “To enhance the effectiveness of biodiversity protection activities”. The main outputs of BIO2CARE project are the ones that give added value to the whole endeavour.
The BIO2CARE proposed decision-making platform could become a valuable tool for understanding the activities and quantifying their respective impacts on biodiversity (e.g. measuring ecological footprint, carbon footprint and water footprint). The monitoring activities proposed will give a competitive advantage in managing bodies to enhance their capabilities of protecting the areas of interest and mitigating illegal activities. Small infrastructures like pathways accessible by disabled persons will make PAs more attractive to new audience never been attracted so far, while will attract new target groups for neighbouring businesses. At the same time this will be PAs contribution to social coherence. To further support entrepreneurship on surrounding areas, BIO2CARE will establish the process of awarding an eco-label, a sustainability scheme that will help local businesses to show a qualitative distinction, surpassing competitors.
Cross-border cooperation is crucial to achieve BIO2CARE objectives and results. BIO2CARE proposal has been jointly developed after an exhaustive discussion and exchange of views among partners of similar characteristics from the two countries, in order to address key challenges and common needs on the issue of biodiversity protection and sustainability assessment.