Green belt replaces Iron curtain in the Balkans

Was the Iron curtain a good thing? Certainly not in economic, political, social and cultural terms. But for the environment it meant a 40 year break  from the destruction of nature along its borders. Launched by IUCN five years ago, the Green Belt Initiative aims at  transboundary cooperation in nature conservation and regional development along the former Iron Curtain.

Belasitsa Nature Park, Bulgaria

Mapping Synergies – Branding Ideas“- the motto of the second meeting of the South-Eastern European Green Belt partners held from 19 to 22 October in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, brought together  50 participants from the countries along the ecological network that runs from the Barents to the Black sea. 

Participants visited a site which is a successful example of transboundary cooperation in nature conservation and regional development --  the Belasitsa trilateral border area between Bulgaria, Greece and F.Y.R. Macedonia. During the Belasitsa International Forum hosted by the local municipality of Petrich, the partners from Kerkini National Park (Greece), Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation and the NGO Planetum (Strumica, F.Y.R. Macedonia) presented their joint efforts in this trilateral border area and celebrated the recent opening of the newest Nature Park in Bulgaria – Belasitsa Nature Park. .A folk group from Samuilovo village in the foothills of Belasitsa mountains performed a traditional dance and vocal acapella singing, part of the rich cultural heritage in the region. 

The European Green Belt initiative has the vision to create the backbone of an ecological network, running from the Barents to the Black Sea that is a global symbol for transboundary cooperation in nature conservation and sustainable development. 23 countries across Europe are adjoining the course of the former Iron Curtain along some 12.500 km, cooperating to preserve the natural heritage of the Cold War times. The route of the Green Belt is divided into three regional sections. One of them is the South Eastern European section, including border sections of Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, F.Y.R. Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro. 

Since the start of the initiative in 2003, several meetings on regional and pan-European level have helped to implement its goals and to exchange experiences within its network. The meeting was organized by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), the implementing partner, the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation BBF, in partnership with the Bulgarian Ministry of Environment and Water, and with the financial support of the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) (

Notes to editors

For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:

European Green Belt Coordination Office, IUCN SEE

Tel: +36 99 537 632, Mobile: +36 303828749,; 

Communications Officer, IUCN SEE
Tel: +381 11 2272 411,;


About IUCN 

IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges by supporting scientific research; managing field projects all over the world; and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN, international conventions and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice. 

IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental network. IUCN is a democratic union with more than 1,000 government and NGO member organizations, and some 10,000 volunteer scientists in more than 150 countries. IUCN’s work is supported by 1,100 professional staff in 62 countries and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world. 

About BBF (Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation)  

The Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation is a non-profit organisation active for the nature conservation and sustainable development. The mission of the Foundation is to contribute to the conservation of the natural heritage of Bulgaria and neighbouring countries of South-Eastern Europe, with an increased involvement of the civil society. 


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