Bulgaria - Forestry

Forests cover 3,240,000 ha (8,006,000 acres), or 29% of Bulgaria's territory. About 80% of the total forest area is wooded forest land. Forests are about 34% coniferous and 66% deciduous, and mainly occupy regions of higher altitudes. Over half of the forests in Bulgaria are situated on slopes of over 20°, making harvesting and reforestation very difficult. The principal lumbering areas are the Rila and western Rhodope Mountains in the southwest and the northern slopes of the Balkan Mountains in the center. Forestry and the forest industry contribute about 2% to the GDP.

Intensive exploitation and neglect before and during World War II (1939–45) and even more intensive exploitation following the war contributed to the deterioration of the forests. So during 1945–65, 860,000 ha (2,125,000 acres) were reforested; the 20 year plan (1961–80) called for the planting of 1.4 million ha (3.5 million acres). During the 1980s, annual reforestation averaged 50,000 ha (123,500 acres). Despite the intensive harvesting during 1950–73 (which exceeded the government's Forest Management Plan—FMP), the total timber volume has increased from 165 million cu m (5.8 billion cu ft) in 1934 to 404 million cu m (14 billion cu ft) in 1995. The FMP decreased the amount of timber permitted to be cut from 6.8 million cu m (240 million cu ft) in 1955 to 6.2 million cu m (219 million cu ft) of roundwood in 1995 because fewer large trees are available. Roundwood production has decreased from 8.6 million cu m (304 million cu ft) in 1960 to 14.8 million cu m (522 million cu ft) in 2000. Forestry exports in 2000 totaled $99.1 million. Bulgaria exports logs to Turkey, Greece, Italy, and Macedonia; veneer to Greece and Syria; and particleboard to Greece, Macedonia, and Egypt. The main problems prohibiting greater roundwood production are diseases, drying of trees, and pests. Acid rain and heavy metals have not hurt the local forests. In 1998, the government began a forestry restitution and privatization program covering 3.6 million ha (8.9 million acres).

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