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Sound and independent information
on the environment

Bulgaria

Country profile (Bulgaria)

What distinguishes the country?

more info
Executive Environment Agency
Organisation name
Executive Environment Agency
Reporting country
Bulgaria
Organisation website
Organisation website
Contact link
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Last updated
15 Jul 2011
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CC By 2.5
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Executive Environment Agency
Published: 19 Sep 2010 Modified: 10 Jul 2011 Feed synced: 15 Jul 2011 original
Key message

The Ministry of the Environment and Waters (MoEW) implements national policy to protect Bulgaria’s environment.

The Environment Executive Agency, ExEA, is a specialised MoEW body which monitors and conducts analytical and laboratory research, gathers and processes information on the state of the environment and produces assessments and reports on the environment at the national and international level.

Located in south-eastern Europe, Bulgaria shares borders with Romania, Greece, Turkey, Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia. To the east the Black Sea defines the extent of the country. Bulgaria’s land area is 110 993 square kilometres and the total border length is 2 245 km. Bulgaria is divided into 28 oblasts or regions and 262 obshtinas or municipalities (Source: NSI - http://www.nsi.bg).

Bulgaria is located within the temperate climate belt and has two climate zones, divided by the Stara Planina mountain range. Winters are generally colder in northern Bulgaria and milder in southern Bulgaria. Winter temperatures vary from zero to -7˚C and on rare occasions, temperatures may drop to -20˚C. In spring, the weather is unsettled, which is typical of a continental climate. The climate is particularly suitable for fruit trees and their produce has been famous across Europe for centuries. Summers are hot and stifling in the north, especially along the Danube. Southern Bulgaria is influenced by Mediterranean weather and does not feature the same temperature extremes, generally staying within the temperate limits of 28-30˚C. Autumn is typically wetter than spring and most rain falls in May, October and November.

Since 1990, social and economic changes in Bulgaria have had a significant demographic impact and have led to a long-term decrease in the population. By late 2007, it had fallen to 7 640 238, representing a drop of 39 000 or 0.5 per cent against 2006. By 2015, Bulgaria's population is expected to decline further as a result of negative natural growth and emigration, to around 7 130 000.

The population is unevenly distributed across the country. In 2007, there were 5 403 200 people living in urban areas (70.7 % of the population) while those in rural areas numbered 2 237 000 (29.3 %). Average population density is 68.9 inhabitants per square kilometre. Population concentrations tend to be the first sign of pressure on the environment when measured in terms of air pollution, demand for drinking water, soil degradation and loss of biodiversity. In Bulgaria, the trend towards urbanisation is strong and annual rates are rising (Source: NSI - http://www.nsi.bg).

The Ministry of the Environment and Waters (MoEW) implements national policy to protect Bulgaria’s environment and ensure compliance with European and international environmental standards. At regional level, environmental policy is implemented by 16 regional environment inspectorates. Water management, organised at drainage basin level, is implemented by four drainage basin administrations (Source: MoEW - http://www.moew.government.bg).

The Executive Environment Agency, ExEA, is a specialised MoEW body which monitors and conducts analytical and laboratory research, gathers and processes information on the state of the environment and produces assessments and reports on the environment at the national and international level (Source: ExEA - http://eea.government.bg/eng).

Under the Environmental Protection Act local government is responsible for environmental protection within the 262 municipalities.

What have been the major societal developments?

Published: 19 Sep 2010 Modified: 10 Jul 2011 Feed synced: 15 Jul 2011 original
Key message

In 1989, Bulgaria embarked on a process of economic reform which progressed rather slowly throughout the first half of the 1990s.

Bulgaria is now a stable country with a rapidly-developing market economy, however significant investment is still required in infrastructure, human capital and business development for this to become sustainable.

Since 1950, when it was an agrarian society, Bulgaria has gradually been changing into an agrarian/industrial nation. The amount of farmland has grown steadily since 1960 from 5 672 000 to 6 206 000 hectares in 1980. At the same time, agriculture has become more intensive, with average wheat yields growing from 190 kilos per decare (kg/dca)[1] in 1960 to 350 in 1980. Average corn yields increased from 236 to 483 kg/dca over the same period. The use of machinery, insecticides and mineral fertilisers has also increased significantly (Source: NSI - http://www.nsi.bg).

Between 1960 and 1980, electric power generation increased from 4 657 million kilowatt hours (mkwh) to 32 484 mkwh. Use of insecticides grew from 2 000 tonnes in 1960 to 16 874 tonnes in 1980 and use of nitrous fertiliser from 331 357 to 1 682 857 tonnes over the same period (Source: NSI - http://www.nsi.bg).

In 1989, Bulgaria embarked on a process of economic reform which progressed rather slowly throughout the first half of the 1990s. During this period, Bulgaria was affected by political instability in the West Balkans which hindered commercial links with western Europe. As a result, the country saw extremely low levels of investment, a loss of human potential due to emigration and an inefficient labour market, leading to one of the lowest per capita GDPs in Europe. The introduction of a currency board arrangement in 1997 helped to accelerate the transition to a functioning market economy, with market liberalisation, the privatisation and restructuring of state-owned companies and the deregulation of monopolies.

Bulgaria is now a stable country with a rapidly-developing market economy, however significant investment is still required in infrastructure, human capital and business development for this to become sustainable. The overall economic policy pursued since 1997 aims to achieve macroeconomic stability as a condition for high growth.

During its first year of EU membership, Bulgaria followed an economic policy that aimed to secure sustainable economic growth, a high rate of foreign and local investment, an increase in employment and dynamic convergence in incomes and prices. Yet, despite positive results, Bulgaria's economy is still one of the least-developed in the EU (http://www.government.bg).

In the period 2000-2007, Bulgaria maintained a relatively stable per capita GDP growth of around 6.4 % against an EU-27 average of 2 %. Preliminary data from the Bulgarian National Statistics Institute (NSI) indicates a GDP of BGN 56.5 billion (EUR 28.9 billion) for 2007 and a growth rate of 6.2 % on 2006. This gives Bulgaria a ranking of fifth place in the EU in terms of growth rates. Nevertheless, Bulgaria's per capita GDP is still only 32.1 % of EU-25 GDP (Source: NSI - http://www.nsi.bg).

The Bulgarian economy is still very energy-intensive and dependent on imported energy commodities. Due to a lack of primary energy sources, Bulgaria imports some 70 % of its energy. Productivity is low compared to the European Union average, indicating that further efforts are needed to boost efficiency and competitiveness.


[1] 10 dca = 1 hectare

What are the main drivers of environmental pressures?

Published: 19 Sep 2010 Modified: 10 Jul 2011 Feed synced: 15 Jul 2011 original
Key message

In recent years, the growth in business and consumption has resulted in an increase in environmental pressure. The challenge is to break the link between economic growth and the consequent environmental impact.

In recent years, the growth in business and consumption has resulted in an increase in environmental pressure. The challenge is to break the link between economic growth and the consequent environmental impact.

In recent years, the growth in business and consumption has resulted in an increase in environmental pressure. The challenge is to break the link between economic growth and the consequent environmental impact caused by consumption, use of resources and waste generation.

Between 2000 and 2007 there was an overall drop in household waste generation from 518 kg per person to 469 kg. Moreover, the proportion of people served by organised waste collection systems rose from 78.6 % in 2000 to 92.5 % in 2007 (Source: ExEA - http://eea.government.bg/eng).

In 2007, the proportion of people connected to community wastewater treatment facilities offering at least secondary treatment was 33.8 %, or 0.4 % more than the previous year (Source: MoEW - http://www.moew.government.bg).

The share of renewable energy out of the total demand for domestic energy rose from 1.1 % in 1994 to 5.1 % in 2007. Figures for 2006 indicate that biomass was the predominant source (3.9 %), followed by hydroelectric power (1.8 %). Shares for wind, solar and geothermal energy were insignificant.

Although transport plays a basic role in public cohesion, it also has a serious impact on the environment. In 2007, motor transport was the dominant method for surface freight transportation (70 %) in Bulgaria, compared to 25.1 % for rail and 4.8 % for water transportation. Demand for energy in the transport sector has been increasing more quickly than GDP on an annual basis − by an average of 5.8 % between 1998 and 2006 (Source: NSI - http://www.nsi.bg).

Tourism is one of the most dynamic sectors of the national economy and plays a major role in Bulgaria's economic and social development. However, the encouragement of tourism combining benefits for the local and national economy with a rational use of natural resources remains a challenge. From 2000-2005, tourism experienced rapid privatisation which led to significant investment and growth (revenue increased by 65.4 % and tourism GDP by 43.5 %). However, the environment and the long-term development of tourism have been negatively affected by a number of factors, including overdevelopment along the Black Sea coast; inadequate spatial planning; poor infrastructure; amortisation of water supply networks; inadequate wastewater treatment; a shortage of waste collection/processing depots and low energy efficiency. Moreover, there has been insufficient focus on the use of alternative energy sources to date.

Bulgaria's forests (Source: SFA - www.dag.bg) are regarded by the public as part of the national heritage. They provide some 85 % of the country’s water drainage – approximately 3.6 billion m3 of pure drinking water – and are home to:

- over 80 % of Bulgaria’s protected plant varieties

- over 60 % of the animal species threatened with extinction

- over 60 % of the community types prioritised for preservation

- the populations of 43 species threatened with extinction on a world scale.

To retain this diversity, Bulgaria has three national parks, ten natural parks, 55 nature reserves and 35 maintained reserves. There are 332 Natura 2000 protected areas, covering 33.89 % of Bulgaria's land area (Source: MoEW - http://www.moew.government.bg).

Bulgaria's most dynamic economic sector is industry, which grew by 14 % in real terms during 2007 and 7.8 % in 2006. This development is stimulated both by external demand and by growing domestic demand, with sales of industrial goods rising rapidly on the home market - due to sales of industrial goods on the home market.

Agriculture is developing at variable rates. Its share in gross value added (GVA) fell from 13.9 % in 2000 to 6.2 % in 2007. It is presumed that this fall reflects the sector's low and variable growth rates which are outstripped by growth elsewhere in the economy. The ratio between gross value added and gross product (GVA/GP) is 40.7 % (Source: NSI - http://www.nsi.bg).

What are the foreseen developments?

Published: 19 Sep 2010 Modified: 10 Jul 2011 Feed synced: 15 Jul 2011 original
Key message

As a new EU member, Bulgaria faces the challenge of implementing European environmental and sustainable development standards whilst tackling economic reform to encourage more efficient use of resources and reduce pollution.

As a new EU member, Bulgaria faces the challenge of implementing European environmental and sustainable development standards whilst tackling economic reform to encourage more efficient use of resources and reduce pollution.

As a new EU member, Bulgaria faces the challenge of implementing European environmental and sustainable development standards whilst tackling economic reform to encourage more efficient use of resources and reduce pollution. A situation similar to that faced by many other countries in Europe. The current agenda features a continuous stream of new environmental legislation and the elaboration of strategic targets and policies on new environmental issues.

The major challenge is to cut greenhouse gas emissions while boosting GDP growth. In order to develop the use of clean and sustainable energy it is necessary to improve the energy mix by increasing the share of low-emission energy commodities. Another obstacle Bulgaria faces in its attempts to restrict energy demand and reduce environmental impact is the need to improve the economy's energy efficiency and minimise the losses incurred as a result of obsolete technology and infrastructure. Growth in the transport sector and its impact on quality of life requires special attention. If emissions of greenhouse gases, ozone precursors and particulate formation pollutants (РМ10) are to be cut, it is important to reduce the energy-intensity of transport and implement sustainable transport patterns (Source: MoEW - http://www.moew.government.bg).

 Achieving sustainability in demand and production requires a long-term resource use concept defining the main measures for improving the environment at each stage of a product's lifecycle − e.g. reduction of emissions and harmful waste; prudent use of resources and adoption of a sustainable product manufacturing cycle (Source: MoEW - http://www.moew.government.bg).

Reference sources:

The NSI - National Statistical Institute - http://www.nsi.bg

The Council of Ministers - http://www.government.bg

The MoEW - Ministry of the Environment and Waters - http://www.moew.government.bg

The MRDPW - Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works - http://www.mrrb.government.bg

The MEE - Ministry of the Economy and Energy - http://www.mi.government.bg

The MoAF - Ministry of Agriculture and Food - http://www.mzh.government.bg

The SFA - State Forestry Agency - http://www.dag.bg

The SEEA - State Energy Efficiency Agency - http://www.seea.government.bg

The ExEA - Executive Environment Agency - http://eea.government.bg/eng

Disclaimer

The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.

European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100