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Ecotourism in the Black Sea

Eco tourism has never been so variable and exciting in this region, which has embraced the concept with seriousness and relish.

Bulgaria has a unique geographical location in the far Southeast corner of Europe on the Balkan Peninsula. The territory of the country is rather small but it is situated at the crossroads of three bio-geographic regions. They are the Middle European forest, the Eurasian steppe, and the Mediterranean. This location with the huge variety of different landscapes – Black Sea, wide plains and steppes, rivers and lakes, valleys and forests, hills and mountains ensures a rich biodiversity. You can enjoy all four seasons, each one with its own character and colour.

Bulgaria has three National Parks – Pirin, Rila and Central Balkan. They have a total area of 193,049 hectares and comprise more than one-third of all protected areas in Bulgaria.

Pirin, Rila and Central Balkan are among the largest and most valuable protected areas in Europe. They contain some of Europe’s remaining, extant, wild regions. Identified as Category II protected areas by the World Conservation Union, the Parks are managed in accordance with the latest conservation principles and approaches.

In Bulgarian national parks, unique samples of natural habitats and elements of ecosystems are preserved within reserves.

The Bulgarian National Parks offer excellent opportunities for tourism, scientific research and education. The National Parks also include rivers, lakes, natural landmarks, waterfalls, and exceptional landscapes. The Central Balkan Ecotourism Association, Kalofer, and Rila Ecotourism Association, Samokov are among the newest models of ecotourism around the National Parks.

The sea itself is unlike any other, and the focus of many environmental studies. The Black Sea is believed to have been a freshwater lake between seven and eight thousand years ago, until seawater from the Aegean breached the Bosphorus, the strait bisecting western Turkey, turning it into an inland sea. Some believe that the Black Sea was the site of the deluge in the story of Noah and the Ark.

Romania and active tourism go hand-in-hand: camp, hike, swim - or survey the countryside from horseback.

Georgia’s national parks span terrain from subtropical coast to the Caucasus Mountains. Kolkheti National Park, bordering the Black Sea, has wetland areas with fabulous bird watching. Borjomi National Park is excellent for hiking, and horse trekking is another popular way to see the countryside.

In a country that still boasts large stretches of relatively untamed natural areas, ecotourism in Ukraine is fast becoming a big lure. The value of this kind of tourism can never be underestimated as it not only provides the people of the country with much needed foreign currency, but it also helps to set up systems which protect the natural wildlife and help promote a more stable environment. Ukraine ecotourism is a popular travel option and is well worth looking into.

Among Ukraine National Parks are the Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathian Mountains, (listed by UNESCO), which extend all the way to Slovakia. Mountaineering, hiking, and mountain biking are all on offer, and a good way to spot some of the abundant wildlife as you explore.

The majority of protected wildlife areas are spread over large areas and this means that you will be required to move about quite a bit. There are a few Ukrainian ecotourism companies which offer guided tours from safari vehicles, but the best way to see the wilds of Ukraine is to get out in the elements. As a result, there are guided hiking tours and guided mountain biking tours which are very popular with both Ukrainians and tourists from other parts of the world. Ecotourism guides are fully trained and qualified to present an informative and relatively safe environment where you will be able to enjoy the wonders of nature from amongst the flora that has become home to many animals. They will be able to help visitors leave as small a mark on the environment as possible whilst at the same time providing fascinating insight into the natural world around them.

In Turkey the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-Turkey is a non-profit, non-governmental foundation that aims to enhance the conservation of Turkey's biodiversity and promote the sustainable use of its natural resources through, among other avenues, eco-tourism. Istanbul-based WWF-Turkey spearheads conservation projects throughout Turkey.

The WWF has successfully lobbied the Turkish government to prohibit logging, hunting and grazing and new road construction and other activities which may damage the environment. All tour groups must be accompanied by a trained guide which can be found through the nearest local authorities or eco-tourism centres. “We train and use only local guides. It is part of our program to get the locals interested in their own region and to appreciate the culture and natural beauty of the place they live in,” says Mr. Sedat Kalem, Ph.D., Director of the WWF’s Forest Program.

 

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