Background and history of the project (problems/ challenges to be addressed - target groups)

The two universities took the challenge to invite two PA MBs, asking them to cross check their short/mid-term operational plans and to formulate a solid basis of common interest areas for intervention. This consists of three themes:

  1. to improve PA MB administrative capacity,
  2. to mitigate illegal activities and
  3. to counterbalance negative effects to local population and economy resulting from protective status applied.

The two universities, having the support from EKBY, had create three fields for elaborating new knowledge and developing relevant solutions:

  1. to apply a set of analysis studies to develop a Decision Support system, that will help PA MBs to evaluate current situations and to optimize interventions,
  2. to set up an integrated monitoring system in order to mitigate illegal activities, and
  3. to valorise PA’s hidden assets by enhancing local touristic product and certifying differentiated high-quality infrastructures, services and products.

As this approach was accepted, partners had invited Nestos municipality, Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Water, ESAmeA and Pirin Tourism Forum NGO to get involved on implementation phase and also to contribute according to their capacities and responsibilities by fine tuning project’s overall approach. Upgrading one’s organisation’s administration capacities is an introvert process. Mitigating illegal activities for the benefit of the environment and counterbalancing negative effects due to protective status applied are extrovert processes. Protected Areas in CB area need both of them, to be more effective in a sustainable essence, for the benefit of environment, the local economy and the social cohesion of the surrounding areas. 

BIO2CARE project will interweave both type of processes to succeed in achieving a high value result. BIO2CARE project’s starting point is the PA MBs administrative capacities upgrade (WP3) through a set of studies applying innovative scientific tools (e.g. Life Cycle Analysis, Carrying Capacity) and approaches (Circular Economy), to help PA MBs develop and operate in the near future integrated Decision Support Systems (DSS). Such an effort will clearly contribute to the other two initiatives (WP4), to mitigate targeted illegal activities which is a painful common issue, as also to meet societal and economic challenges highly relevant to PAs. WP3will clarify in what extend and what sort of illegal activities there are, on WP4 two sets of monitoring equipment will set on ground new procedures and methods of work for PA MBs, as also will create a high amount of information for further processing and helping PA MBs, to select in a more “cost-benefit” basis future interventions and prepare action plans. Also in WP4,small infrastructures will enhance PAs accessibility options, while the development of an eco-labelling scheme will give new opportunities to neighbouring businesses. 

Both will upgrade PAs attractiveness. On WP5, aforementioned activities will be tested, certified to prepare policy recommendations for local and regional authorities. BIO2CARE will address two specific target groups: (1) scientists working on PA’s and policy makers responsible for PA’s development and regional/local development, trying to inform and involve them on project methodology, outputs and results and (2) local entrepreneurs, eco-tourists, disabled persons and wide audience trying to inform, to make aware and to motivate them to get involved in or benefit from project results.