RAPORT 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 approach. • 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.