Official Opening of a Cross-Border Center for Scientific Research Related to Environmental Problems in the Black Sea Protected Areas

The new Cross-Border Center for Joint Monitoring in the Black Sea Protected Areas was opened with an official ceremony on July 8, 2022. Many official guests attended the event – Mrs. Valentina Taneva- Adviser to the President on Education, Science and Innovation, the Mayor of Ahtopol Mr. Stanislav Dimitrov, the Rector of Plovdiv University “Paisii Hilendarski” Prof. Dr. Rumen Mladenov, accompanied from the academic management of the university. The forum was also attended by representatives of the project partner organizations, representatives of local non-governmental organizations in the field of ecology, tourism, fisheries and environmental protection, researchers, expert ecologists, representatives of the academic community and students in the field of ecology, biology and botany, representatives of Strandzha Nature Park and the Historical Museum in the town of Malko Tarnovo.

The forum was opened by Prof. Dr. Nevena Mileva, Coordinator of the “BSB Eco Monitoring” project and Chairman of the Management Board of the “AKTORPUS” association, who presented the results of the successful implementation of the project and emphasized the importance of the built infrastructure for increasing the research capacity to address ecosystem changes and biodiversity monitoring in the Black Sea region. Advisor to the President, Mrs. Valentina Taneva, presented a congratulatory address on behalf of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Mr. Rumen Radev. The rector of Plovdiv University “Paisii Hilendarski”, in turn, said that he was extremely happy to be present at this opening and congratulated the entire team that worked on the project, and on behalf of the university management.

In parallel with the opening event, for a week, the project partners held a number of fruitful workshops related to both the presentation and analysis of the achieved results of the scientific research on the planned project activities, as well as the preparation of the final reports on the project. Two research trips were organized for the research teams in the protected areas of the Strandja Nature Park and to the mouth of the Veleka River.

The Cross-Border Center for Joint Monitoring in the Black Sea Protected Areas was created within the the project “BSB Eco Monitoring – Joint monitoring for environmental protection in the Black Sea Basin countries “, financed by the European Union, through the Joint Operational Program Black Sea Basin 2014-2020. Within the framework of the project, the marine base of the Plovdiv University “Paisii Hilendarski” is being renovated and re-equipped as a center for environmental monitoring and research of the ecological state of local ecosystems in protected areas adjacent to the Black Sea basin.

The Association for Culture, Technology, Education and Development – Plovdiv University – Strandzha, AKTORPUS, founded by Plovdiv University “Paisii Hilendarski”, is a leading partner in the project. It was implemented with the active participation of leading scientific research organizations in the field of ecology: Danube Delta National Institute for Re-search and Development, DDNI, Romania; Regional Environmental Center for Caucasus Armenia Branch Office, REC Caucasus, Armenia; Society for Nature Conservation, SABUKO, Georgia.

The funding under the Joint Operational Program for Cross-Border Cooperation is 1,000,000 Euros. Project implementation started in June 2020 and has successfully entered its final phase. The construction and repair works have already been completed. The built infrastructure includes two conference rooms with a capacity of about 40 seats, offices, laboratory and server room, and 20 renovated rooms for year-round use by the research teams. Specialized apparatus and equipment have been delivered, installed and are in working order. A methodology for joint monitoring of natural habitats and invasive species in the covered territories has been developed. The technology for monitoring the environment with drones, as well as the methodology for the remote measurement and monitoring of the quality of air and river water is being implemented by the project researchers.