State of Conservation (SOC)
Pirin National Park (2001)
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds
International Assistance granted to the property
Total Amount Ap proved:0USD
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Development of a hotel and a ski resort (issue resolved)
- Project proposal envisaging the enlargement of the existing ski-zone within the World Heritage site
Current conservation issues
The Ministry for the Environment and Water submitted a report on the conservation status of Pirin National Park dated 12 September 2001, which was transmitted to IUCN for review. The report includes the following information on the Territorial Development Plan (TDP) that was developed for the Bansko ski zone that lies within the site:
· The TDP passed all the Environment Impact Assessment procedures set by the Bulgarian Protected Areas Law. It was also subject to public hearing. It was later submitted to the High Expert Ecological Council (HEEC) of the Ministry of Environment and Water. The HEEC partially approved the TDP, while also requesting changes and protection measures aimed at improving the TDP.
· The final version of the TDP is 818.46 ha, with ski runs and facilities occupying 99.55 ha of this area.
· The TDP is considered as the upgrade and development of an existing ski zone, the most significant element of which is a cable car. It is considered to significantly reduce the negative impacts associated with crowding, traffic congestion, and rundown facilities.
· The development aims to ensure the achievement of one of the major goals of the National Park, namely encouraging ecotourism and generating income for the local people. The TDP will contribute to the sustainable development of the Park by enrolling the local community into the idea of protection of the Park. The State Party report noted that the local population is fully supportive of the TDP.
· The Management Plan for the Park is to be developed with financial assistance from the ongoing Bulgarian-Swiss Biodiversity Conservation Programme. This is expected to be complete in 2001. It is expected that the Management Plan will take note of the main directives of the TDP and after the approval of the Management Plan, some of the TDP’s decisions may be changed.
· On 12 July 2001, the sitting of the three-member High Administrative Court of Bulgaria ended with a rejection of the BALKANI Wildlife Society appeal against the decision of the Ministry of Environment and Water to grant permission for the TDP. There was an appeal against the decision with the sitting of a five-member Court, and was subsequently rejected by the Court in late September. The High Administrative Court is the final authority and avenue of appeal.
· Prior to the High Court decision in July, the Ministry of Environment and Water opened the bid procedure for the concession for the TDP by advertising in the State Gazette, and a Commission was nominated to oversee the concession bidding process.
The State Party report invited a UNESCO/IUCN mission to the site. IUCN also received the first Brief of the “Save the Pirin Campaign”, which involves a coalition of over 30 Bulgarian NGOs opposed to the development. The Brief and subsequent Briefs will be used to inform European NGOs, Convention Secretariats, European institutions including the EC, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and European Parliament about the Campaign’s progress. Members of the Campaign have met with the new Minister of Environment and Water, representatives of the potential project sponsor and representatives of the EBRD, which is also involved in project financing. IUCN noted the State Party’s belief that “the only solution to the problem of the sustainable development of the Pirin NP is to bind the goals of the Park to the interests of the local people”, and that the TDP offers this opportunity. IUCN acknowledges that it is important that local populations benefit, where possible, from World Heritage designation. IUCN notes that any development in the World Heritage site must be carefully planned to minimise environmental impacts.
IUCN questioned whether the TDP project in Pirin National Park can be classed as ecotourism and whether it is compatible with World Heritage status. It also noted that the total area covered by the TDP is 818.46 ha, whereas the current proposed ski runs and facilities cover less than 100 ha. This is a substantial increase.
Analysis and Conclusion
Link to the decision
VIII.85 The Committee noted the concerns over the Territorial Development Plan (TDP), which it anticipates will lead to further incremental development within the remaining larger area. It requested the State Party to ensure that tourism development does not take place in the remaining TDP area in the future. The Committee urged that the mission invited by the State Party be carried out as soon as possible.
The Bureau may wish to adopt the following decision for transmission to the Committee:
"The Committee notes the concerns over the Territorial Development Plan (TDP) which it is anticipated will lead to further incremental development within the remaining larger area. It requests the State Party to ensure that tourism development does not take place in the remaining TDP area in the future. The Committee urges the mission invited by the State Party be carried out as soon as possible.”
Pirin National Park
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The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).