Rural areas in Bulgaria have an untapped potential, both in the use and protection of available resources and their socio-economic development, and for generation of additional income. Their sustainable development would balance the economic, social, and environmental growth and significantly improve the rural quality of life. The aim of this study is to identify the theoretical and methodological foundations for the management of sustainable development of rural areas in Bulgaria. On the basis of the general scientific methods of induction, deduction and translation, content analysis, and critical analysis of documents and literature sources, the following are reasoned: 1) the theoretical foundations of sustainable development; 2) the strategic framework for sustainable development; 3) the problems in defining the rural territories; 4) the development of alternative tourism as a good practice for the diversification of the functional use of the territory. The article argues that the management of sustainable development is based on the collaboration between the authorities, local communities and businesses for the diversification in the functional use of the territory and the optimal utilization of available resources.
Keywords: sustainable development, rural areas, strategic framework, diversification