Nature-friendly Farming

The farming practices are very important for shaping the landscape and play important role for biodiversity richness.

Some extensive farming practices are very much beneficial for some of the most threatened species in Bulgaria and globally. FWFF identifies practices of livestock breeding and land management that may benefit both – the people and the wildlife. By encouraging the grazing of mountain pastures a whole ecosystem is supported from the bottom up providing an ideal habitat for many rare and endangered species including orchids, snakes, toads, wolfs, mole-rats, susliks, shrikes, buntings, bears and of biggest interest to FWFF raptors. The winter grazing of the lowland pastures is also of huge benefit to the biodiversity in these areas.

FWFF has set up a demonstration farms in Kotel Mountain which aims to act as a model for other farmers to show them that the traditional ways can still be practiced and farmers can still make a profit. We have 400 native Karakachan sheep (a significant proportion of the global population of this rare breed), 4 Donkeys and a variable number of Goats and Pigs. Kotel Mountain is the summer base for the sheep, in winter they are moved to pastures 200 km away in the Sakar near the Turkish border.  There the winter is mild and the sheep may graze to the benefit of wildlife, without the need of extra hay and or fodder.

Currently the sheep are moved to the winter pastures by truck, this is the method that is promoted to other farmers as it is the easiest but we hope eventually to transport the sheep on foot as was traditionally done so we can improve the habitat for the wildlife in between the two pastures through the grazing and natural fertilisation of the sheep. Unfortunately the logistics of such a project are huge and will take many years to fully set up.

FWFF is also helping local communities around Kotel through this program by providing a training scheme for young shepherds to learn how to look after the sheep properly in an extensive way, a skill which is sadly in great decline.

The work at FWFF farms in Kotel is an extremely important part of the habitat restoration work that is being done to prepare for the Griffon Vulture Re-introduction Project. It is also hoped this work will encourage other globally threatened species such as the Imperial Eagle, Egyptian Vulture, European Souslik and others.

This program also supports the Karakachan Sheep project which aims to restore this traditional and nature friendly breed.