Drivers and pressures
Figure 3. Land with changed use (ha).
Figure 4. Changes in soil sealing compared to population change in Bulgaria.
Land with changed use has increased from 600 hectares in 2000 to 4 442 hectares in 2007. There is concern that the use of valuable national land, particularly forests, is being changed. Despite a very restrictive regime, including a moratorium on change of forest land use, in practice changes of use are still taking place, threatening the loss of a valuable resource and rich biodiversity (http://www.mzh.government.bg).
In recent years, soil sealing has been assessed as causing a significant soil destruction threat. It affects soil beneath urban, industrial and infrastructural developments. In Bulgaria, this means some 4.9 % of the land area (over 560 000 hectares), although the proportion is much higher in some areas. The situation is more acute in coastal areas and resort communities where development is proceeding apace. It is expected that in coming years the process will accelerate even further as a result of infrastructure projects currently being planned (http://eea.government.bg/eng).
Subsidence causes a great deal of damage to infrastructure and the landscape across Bulgaria. The phenomenon is mostly seen in spring, after the snows melt, or following intensive rainfall. Instances have been registered in areas where no research has taken place and therefore no soil retention measures have been taken. From 2000-2007, some 1 502 subsidence areas were registered, covering an area of 24 349 hectares, and the trend is increasing (http://www.mrrb.government.bg).
According to ExEA data, natural resource production areas in Bulgaria amount to 271 100 hectares. Prospecting, production and the primary processing of natural resources have seriously affected some 30 936 hectares of land, rendering it irretrievably damaged. Only 10 362.7 hectares have been recovered, mostly through afforestation. The impact is most evident in opencast mining or quarrying and the primary processing of resources. Soils and landscapes are damaged extensively, with the soil, surface/ground waters and air subject to pollution. A serious problem in production and primary processing of underground resources is the generation of enormous amounts of waste (earth and rock slag). The possibilities for reusing this waste are limited, mainly because of the lack of suitable technology, consumer interest or economic regulation (http://eea.government.bg/eng).