Decision : CONF 205 V.146-149
Pirin National Park (Bulgaria)
V.146 The Bureau noted that IUCN reviewed the information from the Minister of Environment and Water (MOEW) of Bulgaria dated 20 October 2000 and that no further information had been provided by the State Party. IUCN noted that the ski developments of 1985/86 were in compliance with the then existing Nature Protection Act and occupy an area of 48 ha. On 18 ha of this area, however, two ski runs and one chair lift do not function properly and there are consequent problems of overcrowding and traffic congestion on narrow roads. The Territorial Development Plan (TDP) submitted to the MOEW in 1999 proposes five new ski runs totalling 30 ha, plus their facilities, car parks and a cable car joining the zone with the town of Bansko. The proposed new ski runs are all within the World Heritage site. The State Party reports that the local population supported the project while NGOs rejected it completely. Following a positive Evaluation Impact Assessment (EIA), a public hearing and an assessment by the Senior Environment Council to the MOEW, part of the TDP has been given approval.
V.147 IUCN has also received for review a letter from Bulgarian NGOs dated 14 February 2001 in response to the State Party letter. This letter notes that: The Bulgarian National Parks Act emphasises nature conservation before the provisions of developments for tourism and recreation; a national conference was held in January 2001 attended by 180 environmental NGOs. Participants supported an appeal to the Ministry of Environment and Water, Bulgarian Prime Minister and the President to repeal the decision of allowing construction of new ski runs in the Park; no alternative solutions to the proposal have been considered; the EIA report notes that the forest to be clear-cut in the area of the planned ski zone is between 50 and 200 years old; the territorial management plan of the ski zone is in violation of a number of laws and Conventions, as well as the Park Management Plan; the plan to bring a further 1400 people to this area of the Park is contradictory to the principle of the management plan for the decentralisation of tourism; and conflict between the number of beds in the town and the capacity of the ski area is only an issue on weekends and holidays.
V.148 The BALKANI Wildlife Society recommended the promotion of soft tourism and the improvement of the capacity of existing ski facilities.
V.149 The Bureau commended the State Party for the efforts to protect the natural values of this site particularly through rehabilitation efforts and measures to alleviate current problems of overcrowding and traffic congestion. However, the Bureau expressed concerns about a number of aspects of the proposals, and stressed the importance of a full EIA and public hearings. Particular attention should be given in the EIA to the location of any new ski runs and facilities as well as possible alternative solutions. The Bureau requested the State Party to submit a detailed update on the proposal to develop five new ski runs by 15 September 2001 and to invite an IUCN/UNESCO mission to the site.