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      Programme of Work of the Committee on Science and Technology
                                    (Decision 20/COP6)

In this document, different aspects of the problems with degradation, vulnerability and
land rehabilitation in Bulgaria are treated, with the aim to provide application of complex
approach. The current situation is analysed in the field of desertification and land
degradation, as well as the significance of the carried out research activity. During the
session in La Habana, Cuba, the Committee on Science and Technology pointed out that
on this stage the countries on UNCCD do not admit enough entirely its recommendations
in the action on the implementation of UNCCD. The materials on each thematic topic
must contain elements proving the connection between the levels of scientific knowledge
of the problem, the scales of influence, the possibilities for mitigation of this influence, as
well as consequences for social-economical and cultural policy of the country.
Additional efforts are necessary to include the results from the scientific investigations
and the developed projects in the implementing processes of NAPs and the activities on
the impact assessment.

Bulgaria became a Party to the UNCCD only in 2001, but even prior to that the country
had been actively involved in the conservation of land resources and combating land
degradation. The results of the work are summarized in the First National Report on the
Implementation of the UNCCD presented at CRIC1, Rome, 2002.

Bulgaria has implemented an integrated approach in tackling the social, economic and
environmental issues related to the prevention of land degradation, conservation and
sustainable use of land and water resources. The main sectors causing land degradation
are (i) farming, (ii) livestock and (iii) forestry activities. Secondary factors are
infrastructure development and extractive activities like mining. Land degradation
processes of varying intensity have affected over 70% of the arable land in Bulgaria. The
negative effect is compounded and by a semi-arid climate and soil conditions (shallow,
stony soils, with high water erosion index, poor structure and poor humus content).

To highlight the problem, a UNDP/GEF project on capacity building for sustainable land
management is realizing in Bulgaria. Its results will serve as a good example of
application of an integrated approach to land degradation and rehabilitation. The project
long-term development objective is to enhance the enabling environment and capacity
for arresting land degradation and establishing sustainable land management practices, so
as to contribute to enhancing ecosystem health, integrity, functions and services while
promoting sustainable livelihoods in Bulgaria. As immediate objective the project will
build capacity for sustainable land management and development and implementation of
a coherent land policy. It will focus on mainstreaming, institutional and technical
capacity building, and establishment of financial mechanisms and resource mobilisation
for sustainable land management.
Several strategies and regulations exist that define the policy framework for the activities
related to degradation of land. These are the following:

• The National Strategy for the Environment and Action Plan 2000-2006 defines
national policy of land and water resources, including actions to promote sustainable
agricultural practices, clearly states that the there is a need for an overall strategy and
policies on protection and preservation of soils. This project will address this gap through
support for the development of a National Strategy and Action Plan for Sustainable Land
Management and Combating Desertification (hereafter NSAP).

• The Programme for Necessary Measures under Drought Trends (adopted 2001;
revised each year; last revision 2003) envisages an integrated water resource assessment

• The National Plan for Development of Agriculture and Rural Areas (2000-2006)
under the special EU accession program for agriculture and rural areas (SAPARD)
presents economic mechanisms and practical measures for development of agriculture,
the food industry, and overall development of rural areas (specifically, SAPARD
measures 1.3 and 1.4).

• The National Agri-Environmental Programme (NAEP) for the post-accession period is
currently being developed by the MoAF. Building on the relevant experience, gathered in
2000-2006, NEAP will seek to incorporate most innovative financial and non-financial
support schemes for local farmers and land-users.

• Code of Good Farming Practices. It is currently being developed under the MoAF and
will specify farming techniques appropriate for local conditions. Depending on its final
content, it can become an influential tool for ensuring the application of soil conservation
techniques in the farming and livestock sectors.

• Soil Conservation Act. MoEW has contracted the Soil Science Institute Pushkarov for
its development. The new Act will replace an outdated existing version. Depending on its
final content, it can become an influential tool for ensuring the application of soil
conservation techniques across productive sectors.

• Regulation № 1 “On Combating Erosion and Landslides from Forestry Practices”. It
has already been developed and approved in 2004 (State Gazette 7/27.01.2004). It defines
practices in the forestry sector for avoiding soil erosion and landslides.

This project includes a strong component on building capacities for the implementation
of the NSAP. The design of this capacity building component has been done in close
collaboration with the local team in charge of the National Capacity Self-Assessment
(NCSA) process, which included the active participation of the UNCCD focal point.
At present, there are five main barriers to the application of SLM principles. The first is
that the concept of SLM is relatively new in Bulgaria. Linked to it, is also the need for
development of incentives for environmentally sustainable land management on the
national level, as part of commitment under the UNCCD. Such incentives need to become
an important addition to the EU-driven reforms in the area of agriculture and land
management. The second barrier is lack of cross-institutional coordination and inter-
sectoral dialogue, resulting in weak transmission mechanisms between knowledge at
specialized institutes and the application of this knowledge in the field. This is most
relevant to the agricultural sector. The third barrier is that while land degradation is a
problem acknowledged by the scientific community and technical staff, it is not well
known by forest owners, farmers, and cattle ranchers. A similar situation affects regional
and municipal authorities. In some cases even simple practices to diminish land
degradation are unknown. The fourth barrier is that the many policy and legal
instruments are either uncoordinated, or do not incorporate principles of sustainable land
management. The fifth barrier is the lack of economic incentives for farmers and
resource users to follow principles of sustainable land and resource management.
Farmers, herders and forest users are affected by, imminent competition from accession
to the EU, and increasing perverse incentives to over-exploit natural resources in the
short run.

The expected outcomes from the project are connected with:
• Sound land policy and a comprehensive legal and regulatory framework for
   sustainable land management.
• Institutional and technical capacity for sustainable land management and combating
   desertification strengthened.
• Local capacity strengthened for land planning and participatory decision-making.
• Resources mobilized for NSAP implementation as well as innovative financial
   mechanisms and economic incentives explored and agreed with farmers and other
   land users and the key Ministries

The project will contribute to the programmatic target set for operational program:
Sustainable Land Management (OP 15), focal area: Land Degradation, by promoting and
measuring success in capacity building. After all, this will help to improve sustainability
of land management in an area of at least 3 million hectares.

The project falls under the Strategic Priority 1 of the OP 15 (targeted capacity building).
It is expected to establish the enabling environment and requisite capacities for long-term
investments in mitigating land degradation and promoting sustainable land management.
As a targeted capacity building project, the global benefits are expected to be indirect.
The project will build capacities with a long-term view to achieving global and local
benefits. The global benefits comprise the conservation of topsoil fragile mountain areas
that are being affected by erosion, and provide habitats for species of global significance.
Global benefits also include reduce pollution of water bodies that discharge into the
Black Sea, preservation of important landscapes important for biodiversity, and
diminished emission of greenhouse gases from deforestation and desertification
processes. Local benefits comprise mainly sustained productivity of land in the
agricultural, forestry and livestock sectors, and reduction of poverty.