Through the years Soufli and Haskovo municipalities have established a strong cooperation. Through the continuous contacts among the two municipalities, the municipal executives have identified the common problems, needs and future challenges of the two municipalities. One of the main common priorities is the environmental protection of their areas and especially the protection of the biodiversity of the areas.
Both municipalities have, in their territory, large protected areas, characterized as Natura 2000 areas, which are valuable resources to them.
Ιn the Soufli municipality there is the Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli Forest National Park which is one of the most important protected areas at European scale. It hosts 3 out of the 4 Vulture species of Europe, while it is home to the only breeding population of Black Vultures in the Balkans.
On the territory of Haskovo Municipality, there are 6 Natura 2000 areas.
- "Harmanli River" and “Zlato Pole”: on the conservation of wild birds have been officially declared, as the second one is the largest wetland of natural character along the Maritsa River.
- "Banska River" “Ostar Kamak”, "Maritsa River" and "Middle Rhodopes": officially declared for the conservation of the habitats of wild fauna and flora.
The FIRE DETECTION project target is to enhance the effectiveness of the biodiversity protection activities. The common threats that will be tackled are Forest Fires and Illegal and/ or dangerous human activities.
Both municipalities will install a system for monitoring the majority of the protected ecosystems within their territory. This system will be installed in a joint CB basis for the first time. Through the utilization of high technology, the environment will be effectively managed and protected. Also, the project targets to increase the awareness of the local population through an extensive publicity campaign.
Characteristic Properties of the system are
- High Technology
- Fire or human activity detection in a range of 15km
- Effective monitoring of an area of 706km2
- Full harmonization with the environment as it creates no disturb to the fauna and flora
- Use for the early detection of the fire and the effective confrontation of it
- Achievement of climate change adaptation
- Containment of the spread of invasive alien species
- Containment of illegal and dangerous for the biodiversity human activities (illegal logging, hunting, farming and camping)
From the FIRE DETECTION project firstly the citizens of the communities near the protected areas will be benefited. The danger of fires will be limited and the lives of the citizens will not be disturbed. Particularly the entrepreneurs that directly or indirectly derive income from the protected areas will be mostly benefited (tourism & legal logging). Their income will be protected from fires and illegal activities. Furthermore, the citizens of the two municipalities, of the cross-border area and generally in global level will benefit from the environmental protection and the limitation of the effects of the climate change. Lastly the authorities which are responsible for the management of the protected areas will be facilitated.
The proposed system can be a vital part for the integrated management of the protected areas.