This website describes above all the Central European Green Belt. Of course the Green Belt in Fennoscandia and the Baltics and in South Eastern Europe is very fascinating, too.
Thanks to our Bulgarian partners, ETP-foundation we can present you a small introduction into the south eastern European Green Belt:The Green Belt Bulgaria/Greece has a length of 493 km. It is based on the former strongly fixed border zone which had a width of 10–300 m and the former forbidden zone of 7 km. In general, many protected areas at or near the borderline, even 20 km away, are forming the Bulgarian Green Belt. It is crossing natural areas - forests, frutex, open afforested and semi-afforested, agricultural, rural and urban areas, transport and infrastructure areas; historical areas.The whole area is rich in unique nature sites and protected areas like the Pirin National Park and in extraordinary landmarks like the Popna Laka waterfall.
Main part of the Green Belt Bulgaria-Greece is formed by the Rhodope mountains. They have harboured people of different origin, religion and language for hundreds of years. They have been inhabited by Thracians, Slavs, Protobulgarians, Greek and Romans. Even now a nomadic people of supposed Greek origin is living there, the Sarakatsani or Karakachans with a transhumance system in the border regions of Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia and Albania. Today Bulgarian and Turk muslims are prevalent in the Rhodopes, due to the centuries of the ottoman empire. The Rhodopes play an important role in ancient mythology being considered the birth place of the singer and lyra player Orpheus and his wife Eurydike. In Greek mythology the Queen Rhodope of Thrace and wife of king Haemus was turned to stone by Zeus und Hera as a punishment.
The mountain range of the Rhodopes was a forbidden and protected area for the entire period of the Cold War with massive emigration of the population. Rhodopes are a forest region with a prevalence of deciduous woodland in the lower eastern and of coniferous forest in the higher western Rhodopes.
The Rhodopes are an old range of folded mountains with granite, gneiss, karst and amphibole like a big green labyrinth of rounded knolls carved by deep valleys.The traditionally spearsely populated region is habitat for various endemic species. There are over 1700 higher plants, 90 of which are Balkan endemics and 17 are Rhodope endemics.Most important problems of nature conservation are over-exploitation of the forests, illegal hunting and lack of (financial) engagement in nature conservation issues.
The Ossogowo-Belassiza Mountains in the three state corner Greece Bulgaria Macedonia can be visited with allowance of the border police.
href="http://www.etp-bg.com/"> > www.greenbalkans.org
Image: Rhodope Mountains, IUCN archive
Green Belt Europe