The Project

The project “Fauna Assessment and management to safeguard Biodiversity in cross-border mountainous areas of Bulgaria and Greece: Innovative approaches to estimate monitor and protect biodiversity in local ecosystems”, with project acronym “BIO-INNOVATE” is implemented in the framework of the 2nd Call of proposals of the Cooperation Programme INTERREG V-A “Greece-Bulgaria 2014-2020” under Priority Axis 2: “A Sustainable and Climate adaptable Cross-Border area” and Investment Priority 6d: “Protecting and restoring biodiversity, soil protection and restoration and promoting ecosystem services including NATURA 2000 and green infrastructures”.

The Project Beneficiaries are:

  • Aristotle University of Thessaloniki – Special Account for Research Funds – School of Veterinary Medicine (Lead Beneficiary)
  • Municipality of Prosotsani
  • Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation – Branch Eastern Rhodopes
  • Municipality of Gotse Delchev

BIO-INNOVATE project ascertains that the role of large herbivores is crucial for biodiversity and sustainability of local ecosystems. These animals are important for cultural heritage and regional identity in each country. Despite being important, many of these animals have not been subject to any conservation or management programs. Moreover, in some ecosystems new animal species have been introduced because of deliberate and accidental human activity. Following their introduction, those new animal species have been established and spread beyond the place of introduction and became invasive species. The latter resulted in changes of the biodiversity of these regions, decreasing the sustainability of local ecosystems. Therefore, conservation programs should aim to conserve and restore biodiversity of European ecosystems. Wild grazers such as deer and wild horses are important for healthy ecosystems and rich biodiversity because they maintain open natural rangelands which are key habitat for a variety of specie

Wild horses in Greece and deer in the cross-border region of Greece and Bulgaria can play this role because are suitable species for rewilding the historical grasslands. But they must be managed properly otherwise the outcome is decline of the ecosystem. Prosotsani (on the foothills of mountain Falakro and Menikio) and Gotse Deltsev (part of the territory of Pirin National Park) municipalities have unique natural ecosystems that require conservation programs to ensure their viability.

BIO-INNOVATE will introduce different management strategies for the animal populations and ecosystems that will ensure biodiversity and cater the needs of those natural resources. Those management strategies will be presented as simplified models to public authorities and other stakeholders that can be easily implemented in their municipalities. The models will be tested and customized in the cross-border area to measure their effectiveness and thereafter will be available for use by different stakeholders in the whole GR-BG INTERREG territory.

Objectives & Outputs

The overall objective of BIO-INNOVATE is to maintain the balance between biodiversity and agriculture activities through the development and pilot implementation of models regarding management of cross border mountainous areas. The focus will be on holistic breeding of deer and controlled management of wild horse population to complement resource efficiency and biodiversity of Prosotsani and Gotse Deltsev regions.

BIO-INNOVATE is also focused on achieving societal acceptance and integration of tourism activities with the ecosystem by promoting and encouraging proximity and interaction with local ecosystems.

Both Prosotsani and Gotse Deltsev will setup Biodiversity Promoters Motivation Centers (BPMC), which will educate young people on the importance of biodiversity using digital applications, a smartphone application etc. Such measures are expected to stimulate the local cross-border economy and improve the attractiveness of the cross-border area.


Target Groups

An important parameter for the successful implementation of communication and publicity strategy is defining target groups such as:

  • Scientists
  • Resource managers
  • Farmers
  • Employees of other public sector services related to the protection of biodiversity and the environment
  • Mountain guides
  • Rescuers
  • Civil protection volunteers
  • Teachers
  • Students
  • Tourist Businesses
  • Employees of municipalities and environmental organizations
  • A wide group of people contributing to the protection of the environment and biodiversity
  • Policy makers and legislators at regional, national and European level

About the programme

Greece and Bulgaria, two neighboring countries with a rich past, since the end of the 1990s have entered an era of closer co-operation, due to the INTERREG Programme “GreeceBulgaria”. The main idea behind “INTERREG” is that countries have issues which can be better solved if they work together with their neighbors than if each one remains confined within its borders. So for this reason, in our Programme we promote activities that bring our people closer.

We focus in Northern Greece and in Southern Bulgaria around our common border. All of our actions take place in the area of Evros, Kavala, Xanthi, Rodopi, Drama, Thessaloniki, Serres and in Blagoevgrad, Smolyan, Kardzhali, Haskovo.

We work with public and other institutions on both sides of the border that can benefit and positively influence the widest possible numbers of inhabitants, funding a very diverse range of activities that fall in the sectors of competitiveness, environment, culture, transportation, health and social issues. For this reason, the European Union together with Greece and Bulgaria are providing 130.000.000 Euros from 2014 up to 2020!

We improve co-operation on issues of common interest and deal with the challenges of the modern era in a more efficient and effective way. Our ultimate aim is a better everyday life. We cooperate! We act jointly and we all win!

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