Restoring a Green Pass in Europe’s Most Polluted Capital


Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria is Europe’s most polluted capital. Decades of wrong urban planning eliminated the green belts and passes of the city, gave priority to cars and neglected the air quality. The city’s position in a valley between mountains helps aggregate pollution all-year-round. The World Health Organization alarmed that Bulgaria ranks second in terms of deaths due to air pollution. Sofia hosts a quarter of the country population today and is not becoming any healthier.

Two years ago, together with the Municipality and 23 other NGOs, Grupa Grad started an initiative to make Sofia apply for the European Green Capital award but the initiative got lost in the debris of the municipal know-how.

That is why we decided to buy land in the city and plant trees to restore the green passes that lead the fresh air from the mountain to the center of the city. To make this, we need large spaces and thanks to some reasonable politics of the Municipality, we can still find such terrains where building possibilities are limited and the land is cheaper but useful to our cause.

Our project involves buying the land and planting trees from sustainable local species to restore the green passes. You can buy a tree in our New Urban Forest and do whatever you would want to do with it – have a picnic under it, put a swing or just keep the name tag of its sponsor on it. One tree in a combined urban forest can save the life of one person.

The first urban forest will have 120 trees. Per our Foundation’s Constitution and local laws this land will always be an Urban Forest – created as such by the will of donors its purpose cannot be changed in time. As an Urban Forest, it is eagerly expected by Sofia citizens to not only improve the air quality but also to provide a place for walks and play.

A tree can absorb on average 1 ton of carbon dioxide throughout its life. Besides this, it reduces the noise pollution, meliorates the soils, adds to biodiversity and helps regulate the temperatures. Most of all, we will use the project as a sample to continue the work on restoring the green passes in the city. After the first Urban Forest our initiative will grow to a 5-year campaign “Plant one million trees”, like similar campaigns in London, NYC, Shanghai, Denver, Salt Lake City.

Donate now for Restoring a Green Pass in Sofia!