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Forest management in Bulgaria

Ivan Grouev

Ivan Grouev is Bulgaria's First Deputy Minister of Forests and Forest Industry.

Forestry became known in Bulgaria in 1880, when the first forest nurseries were opened, but it did not reach a comparatively large scale until 1905.

Today there are 700 forest nurseries in the country, covering an area of 2600 ha and producing approximately 700 million seedlings per year.

More than 40000 ha are forested every year. Plantations of rapidly growing tree species for industrial purposes, as well as forest fruit trees (walnut, hazelnut and almond), have been created. Another aspect of forestry in Bulgaria is the creation of shelter-belts, mainly in the flat areas of the northeast. These have made district landscapes more attractive and have increased yields of farm crops by approximately 30 percent - those of maize by up to 60 percent.

Forestry, combined with other biotechnical means, has helped to stop erosion, to improve the regime of water flows and to keep the rivers, dams and catchment basins clean. Bulgarian forests serve as a natural environment for game- and fish-breeding. Specialized game-and fish-breeding farms were created and efforts initiated for increasing game-in particular, the development of industrial fish-breeding in floating cells.

Appropriate climatic, soil and other environmental conditions in Bulgaria provide good opportunity for the growth of more than 200 kinds of forest fruit-trees and shrubs. Average annual crops amount to about 250000 tonnes, and they are used for food and raw material in industry.

In recent years, "by-activities" have been developed. These include the growing of potatoes, tobacco and other farm produce; also cattle-breeding, mainly for dairy and meat. Wood residues are used as raw materials in the manufacture of small wooden articles for everyday needs and as souvenirs. Fodder substance and pine oil are extracted from pine needles. The complete utilization of all forest resources is the major task of the "by-activity" programme.

The woodworking industry plays a most important role in the economy, with 80 percent of domestic wood consumption being covered by local resources. Logging is carried out within the framework of forest-management projects. Bulgaria's forests are situated in high mountains, and this constitutes a serious obstacle to the utilization of heavy tractors and other highly productive equipment.

CONIFEROUS PLANTATION IN BULGARIA half of the country's forests are new

The wood-processing industry is based on the principle of complete utilization of raw materials. The results achieved in this respect are remarkable. In 1982, utilization of the output of coniferous wood reached 85.4 percent; that of non-coniferous wood, 71.2 percent. The share of wood in the processing industry reached 81.4 percent. Part of the wood formerly used as fuelwood is today raw material for the production of wood-based panels.

The idea that the forest is merely a gift of nature died long ago. Rather, the forest is a result of the active, scientifically based work of people working for the benefit of society and future generations.

The development of forestry and forest industry in Bulgaria is strongly linked to the development of scientific institutes. At the Higher Forest Technology Institute, established over 55 years ago, students graduate in forestry and forest industry. With its scientific works, the Forest Institute at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences most actively services practical works. In addition, the institutes for woodworking, furniture and indoor design, and pulp and paper also study the problems of the forest industry.

All management activities of forestry and forest industry are concentrated in the hands of the Ministry of Forests and Forest Industry. The country's forest administration has gone through significant structural changes, but it has now existed in its present form for more than 20 years and has proved to be efficient. The ministry manages the forestry sector through the forestry combines' established on a territorial principle.

The management of forest industry is carried out through specialized production corporations for woodworking, furniture and pulp and paper. The specialized organization Lescomplekt Engineering, which elaborates and implements projects in the country and abroad, supplies the ministry's engineering services. This organization works as a consultant and as a turnkey supplier in all fields connected with forests and forest industry. Lescomplekt Engineering cooperates with some international organizations and with forest administrations and firms from countries such as Algeria, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Mozambique, Nicaragua and Nigeria. The foreign trade organization Lessoimpex carries out import-export operations for wood products.

With its present structure, the Ministry of Forests and Forest Industry has achieved a closed cycle of activities connected with forests and their creation and exploitation and with the processing of wood to produce goods for the national economy and the consumer market.

The ministry has realized a number of achievements of national significance:

· It has created 16500000 ha of new forests, a figure that now represents 50 percent of the country's total forest land.

· It has restored ecological balance.

· It has solved the problem of supplying wooden raw material for industry with the establishment of the Bulgarian-Soviet enterprise for forest exploitation.

· It has introduced modern technologies in wood-processing, thereby contributing to the achievement of significant results in the complex utilization of raw materials.

The positive results yielded by the combined management of forestry and forest-industry activities have been appreciated by several countries and experts. Developing countries in particular have shown interest in following a similar pattern of organization. The idea that the forest is merely a gift of nature died long ago. Rather, the forest is a result of the active, scientifically based work of people working for the benefit of society and future generations. The forests of tomorrow will be what we make them today. Because of this, the present generation of foresters is responsible for creating more favourable conditions for the development of human society and finding better answers to people's needs. Bulgaria is doing its part in contributing to this trend.

The forests of Bulgaria

Bulgaria is situated in the central part of the Balkan peninsula with a total area of 11073350 ha, of which over 33 percent is covered by forests. Most of the forests are situated on mountain slopes and non-arable lands. The highest mountain peak rises to 2925 m. The timber-line reaches 2200 m above sea-level.

Forests in Bulgaria are public property, with 97.3 percent belonging to the state and the rest being owned by agro-industrial complexes and forestry schools for temporary management and use. The concentration of forests is quite uneven, ranging from almost 70 percent of land in the most wooded district to only about 8 percent in the least wooded one.

The variety of species, which depends largely on the altitude, is great. Coniferous forests cover 33.1 percent of the total wooded land; deciduous forests, 66.9 percent. Oak forests cover the zone up to 1200 m altitude; beech forests rise up to 1600 m; and the coniferous zone stretches to the upper forest limits.

Only a few tree species are of economic significance. Important among the coniferous are the white pine (Pinus sylvestris), the black pine (Pinus nigra), the spruce (Picea excelsa), the fir tree (Abies alba) and the Balkan pine (Pinus peuce), while among the deciduous are the beech (Fagus sylvatica), the oak (Quercus spp.), the poplar (Populus spp.) and the ash-tree (Fraxinus spp.). About 86.4 percent of the total forested area is destined for wood-production cover; the remainder has protective or recreational functions.

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