The Central Balkan Biosphere Reserve is located in the central part of Bulgaria and covers an area of 369.003,92ha, including 5 municipalities and 7 nature reserves, as well as over 580 km of tourist trails (for horse riding, cycling, and wildlife observation). Parts of it were first declared a protected area in 1948, whereas the territory was designated as a Biosphere Reserve with its current boundaries in 2017. The Summer University will be held in both the northern and southern part of Central Balkan BR and will be used to further promote the MAB programme in the region. In this regard, although the protected area is well-known, the BR concept and the possibilities it gives are still not well understood and promoted, and further information is needed.
The Summer University seeks to provide high-quality training to postgraduate students, young scientists, and practitioners from Biosphere Reserves from Europe and the Mediterranean on “Integrated management, sustainable tourism, and promotion of biosphere reserves”. Additionally, the Summer University will seek to engage the participants through an active learning process, providing them with the opportunity to develop ideas for joint projects focusing on further promotion of BRs and the MAB programme, while also experiencing first-hand the rich natural and cultural heritage of the Central Balkan BR.
The Summer University provides an intensive, multidisciplinary, and experiential training aiming to develop the understanding and competencies of the trainees on the multiple values of the Biosphere Reserves as “laboratories” and “catalysts” for Sustainable Development. It specifically aims to deepen the understanding of and offer insights on the integrated management approaches and sustainable tourism strategies for Biosphere Reserves and their promotion, by presenting a plethora of BR management examples.
The Summer University intents also to stimulate the participants, thought interactive and project work methodology, to contribute to the development of ideas for joint projects and future collaborations.
The expected number of trainees is estimated to be 25-30. Participants are expected to be:
- people actively working or involved within existing Biosphere Reserves or from areas that are currently developing their nomination process to the MAB Programme;
- employees in management bodies or local authorities of Biosphere Reserves and/or other designated areas or in private/public organization working on Sustainable Development;
- young scientists, recent graduates, or researchers on Sustainable Development and Management, Biosphere Reserves, Environmental Policies, Tourism, and/or Protected Areas.
The trainees successfully completing the Summer University will be awarded a certificate of participation provided by the UNESCO Chair of the Bulgarian National MAB Committee and the director of Central Balkan Biosphere Reserve
Thanks to the support provided by the sponsors of the Summer University, no inscription fees will be requested. The organization will cover:
- accommodation and meals;
- connection with the Sofia airport, Bus and Train Station
- all local transport; and
- equipment and guide(s) for excursions and visits.
The travel costs to reach and leave Bulgaria will have to be covered by the participants. All participants shall arrive before July 21st (Sunday). There will be a limited number of scholarships available for sponsored participants based on their profile and motivation described in the application form.