This is a story about the destruction of trees in Varna. It lacks fiction and journalistic commentary. Only facts. It takes place on ul. “(The names lack irony.)
“Come see the view from above!”. One of the residents of Block 25 points to the earth banks, the trench, and the backhoe. The picture can be seen from the third floor stairwell of the panel block. There were 22 trees on this spot less than a year and a half ago. Now it is a site being prepared for construction.
The date is April 30, 2022. the media reported a large fire next to the First Language School in Varna. The only mention is of burnt shacks. Pre-trial proceedings are being conducted against an unknown perpetrator.
In fact, two 9-meter Atlas cedars, five 8-meter Eastern aunts, ten white acacias were burned completely. Two 12-meter high plane trees, a species categorized as “almost endangered” on the Red List of Bulgarian higher plants, were severely burned and subsequently removed. The same fate also befell two 8-metre sycamores.
“I went out on the terrace in the first minutes and saw the trees in the middle of the terrain burning,” recalls Diyan Dinkov from block 25 a few months back. He took a picture of the fire with his phone. “They said some kids had set them on fire. After the fire they removed everything scary fast. The investigation was against an unknown perpetrator, who they never found,” the man shrugs.
The report on the burnt tree vegetation, prepared by experts of Primorski district, is dated 12 May 2022. A day later, the municipality received an application for approval of a complex project for an investment initiative “Mixed-use building” and the issuance of a building permit, as well as for the removal of woody vegetation from the construction site.
On 12 December 2022, the municipality prepared a report, written by a landscape architect from the Architecture, Urban Design and Planning Department, for the removal of a further 11 trees from the site in connection with the construction of the building and its adjacent car park. On 31 January 2023 an order was issued by the Mayor of Varna, through his deputy Hristo Ivanov, to remove five long-lived ornamental trees, including three 100-year-old cypresses and one half-century-old sycamore, plus a further 6 acacias, a holly, a mahalebka and fruit trees. Eight of the trees fall under the protection of Ordinance 1 for the protection of green spaces and ornamental vege
Ordinance 1 for the protection of green areas and ornamental vegetation. In the vegetation removal order, the deputy mayor disregarded the landscape architect’s report on the type and number of trees planted, but required the compensation program to cover 33 conifers of the Arizona cypress species 150-175 cm tall. It is the recommendation of the specialist that each of the deciduous trees felled should be compensated for with 5 medium-sized deciduous trees of 1.8-2.4m in height, and the four pyramidal cypress trees with 5 conifers each. The nettle removal requires the planting of 3 deciduous trees 1.8-2.4 m tall.
The Mayor’s order stipulates that the developer shall reforest another area, namely between Eighth Primorski Regiment Street and Primorski Blvd. “Hristo Smirnenski”.
Worryingly for the residents of ul. “Zelenika” are not the discrepancies between the landscape architect’s report and the order on vegetation compensation. Residents of Blocks 22, 23, 24, and 25 have concerns that all of the green vegetation of over 50 perennial trees south of the First Language School fence will be cut down to create a new street serving the development project planned in the area’s Detailed Development Plan tation.
As early as 2021, people submitted two signals to the Municipality that the map of the street landscaping of the 25th micro-district, published on the website of the AGUP Directorate, does not show a total of more than 52 trees along the southern fence of the First Language School, in the section between ul. “No. 21 on the street. “Zelenika”. Among those missing from the map are valuable endemic species such as 6 linden trees, 15 Japanese maples, 3 plane trees, 5 ash trees, etc. And they demand that this be corrected.
Two years later, upon a request from EcoVarna under the Access to Public Information Act, the municipality replied that they lacked information about the species of trees on the municipal property, which is located between the First Language School, the construction site, and ul. “Zelenika”. The available vegetation is noted only by symbols and location on the green register map.
“These are trees from our childhood, over 50 years old. There was a playground here, where the parking spaces were provided for the construction,” recalls Diana Velichkova from Block 22 of Zeleniya Street. “Zelenika”.
“Our goal is to preserve the trees. But we also have concerns about our parking spaces and the sustainability of our blocks during the actual construction of the new building,” says Diyan Dinkov from Block 25.
When the Municipality adopted the new Detailed Development Plan and the Area Regulation and Development Plan (ADP-DDP), the people of the neighborhood learned by accident and failed to familiarize themselves with the plan. “All the notices to the residents of the five blocks were put in a bunch near the letter boxes of Block 25. People had no way of knowing what it was about. There were notices to long-deceased who had garages once on the street. They had to get letters on demand from the post office, which they didn’t give to their heirs,” says Diyan Dinkov. “When we went to see the projects in the Primorsky district, the clerk was always either on sick leave, absent, or had a lot of other work…”.
The people from Primorska Street were in the hospital or there was something else to do. “The people from Zelenika Street are suing the Municipality for not having been duly informed about the drafted Master Plan for the area. The first hearing in the case was on 3 October this year. Postponed – until after the local elections.