Brestovo is a small Bulgarian village tucked into the southern outskirts of the Balkan Mountains. It is 23 km away from the centre of Lovech district – one of the most alarmingly depopulating districts in Bulgaria within the poorest regions in the EU – northwest Bulgaria.

The region, with increasingly ageing population, was an industrial centre with a well-developed agricultural sector thirty years ago. The village has all natural, cultural and historic conditions to offer a decent life to its inhabitants who numbered over 2 500 people in the past. Economic development and opportunities, concentrated largely in the capital and a few big cities, caused the number of Brestovo’s inhabitants to drop to about 120.

A worrying process of rural depopulation has been occurring across Bulgaria. A lack of adequate policies and systemic approach to rural development is only deepening the crisis. The countryside villages like Brestovo with their variety of resources – must be recognised as a ‘dormant asset’ that could be awakened and reintegrated into the national economy and culture.

Recently, a small group of local residents initiated a number of revival activities. These are based on the belief that in order to smartly stimulate and support the Brestovo community, to reveal its potential and to ensure full life value for its residents and worthwhile experience for its guests, a special well-designed ‘ecosystem’ needs to be built.

The group is determined to awaken Brestovo – the Smart ‘Sleeping Beauty’ of the sustainable local growth!

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