1.         Pirin National Park (Bulgaria) (N 225bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1983

Criteria  (vii)(viii)(ix)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/225/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2004-2004)
Total amount approved: USD 15,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/225/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: financial support from the Participation Programme of UNESCO for development of a strategy for sustainable tourism (2010)

Previous monitoring missions

2002, 2004, 2011: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring missions

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/225/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

On 12 December 2015, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/225/documents/.  

The State Party confirms that the draft Management Plan for Pirin National Park will be subject to the procedures for Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Appropriate Assessment (AA) as requested by the World Heritage Committee. Currently the draft plan is being evaluated by the Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW). It is expected that it will be returned for further elaboration due to the identified discrepancies between the prepared draft and the technical specification approved by the Ministry.

It also confirms that all projects in the buffer zone of the property are evaluated in line with the Bulgarian legislation and are subject to Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) and AAs. The implementation of approved projects is controlled by the Pirin National Park Directorate (PNPD) and the MOEW. A number of projects were approved in 2014 and 2015, which are mainly related to the maintenance of the existing facilities, improving visitors’ safety, the quality of tourist services and the environment. 

In line with the recommendation of the 2011 joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission, the demarcation of the boundaries of the property and its buffer zone was carried out. With regards to the other recommendations of the mission, the State Party reports the following:

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The progress achieved by the State Party in the implementation of the recommendations of the 2011 mission is welcomed. It is recommended that the World Heritage Committee request the State Party to continue its efforts in this regard and to implement all pending recommendations.

The information provided by the State Party that the draft Management Plan for Pirin National Park will be subject to a SEA and an AA is noted. However, the fact that the draft Management Plan was considered by the MOEW as not being compliant with its technical requirements raises concerns. It should also be noted that concerns were expressed by local stakeholders during the public consultation process for the Management Plan, particularly over the planned extension of areas where tourism infrastructure development would be allowed. Concerns were also raised by local stakeholders regarding the proposed amendment of the Concession Contract for the Bansko ski zone. However, the State Party does not provide any details with regards to the contract.

In its Decision 38 COM 7B.73, the Committee noted the information previously provided by the State Party that further developments in the buffer zone of the property could be considered within the new Management Plan. In its most recent report, the State Party does not provide any further details about what is considered in the current draft; however, it reports that a number of projects were approved in 2014 and 2015. Although the State Party notes that these projects were related to the maintenance of existing facilities and improvement of visitors’ safety and the quality of tourist services, some of the projects listed in the report appear to be of a significant scale, such as the extension of the system for artificial snow, the reconstruction of an existing ski surface lift and the reconstruction of a ski lift station. Their cumulative impacts therefore need to be carefully evaluated.

It is crucial that strategic planning guides any developments within the property and its buffer zone. This can be achieved through the foreseen process of the review of the draft Management Plan under a SEA. The current situation where no such strategic guiding document is in place raises concerns. It is noted that all projects within the buffer zone of the property are subject to EIAs and AAs; however, these individual assessments might not take into account the cumulative impacts of all projects on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and on its buffer zone, and the pressures coming from the surrounding areas. It is therefore recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to ensure that the draft Management Plan is revised to comply with the requirements set out by the MOEW and is evaluated through the SEA and not to approve any further developments within the property or its buffer zone until these procedures have been completed. It is also recommended that the Committee request the State Party to submit the results of these assessments to the World Heritage Centre, for review by IUCN, as soon as they become available and prior to any decision to finalize the Management Plan is made.

Decision Adopted: 40 COM 7B.93

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7B.73, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Welcomes the progress achieved by the State Party with the implementation of the recommendations of the 2011 mission and requests the State Party to fully implement all pending recommendations;
  4. Also welcomes the confirmation that the draft Management Plan for Pirin National Park will be subject to the procedures for Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Appropriate Assessment (AA), as requested in its Decision 38 COM 7B.73, but notes with concern the conclusion of the Ministry of Environment and Water that the first draft of the Management Plan did not comply with the requirements set out by the Ministry and was therefore sent back for revision;
  5. Notes the information provided by the State Party that all projects within the buffer zone of the property are subject to Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and that the projects approved in 2014 and 2015 were mainly related to the maintenance of existing infrastructure and the enhancement of visitors’ safety and of the quality of tourist services;
  6. Considers that any future developments within the buffer zone of the property need to be guided through strategic planning, which can be achieved by strengthening the Management Plan through the procedures for SEA and also requests the State Party:
    1. to ensure that the draft Management Plan is revised to comply with the requirements set out by the Ministry of Environment and Water and is evaluated through the procedures for SEAs,
    2. to submit the Management Plan and the results of its evaluation through the procedures for SEA and AAs to the World Heritage Centre, for review by IUCN,
    3. tto provide the World Heritage Centre information on other ongoing processes, that might affect the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property,
    4. not to approve any further developments within the property or its buffer zone until the draft Management Plan has been subject to the procedures for SEA and AA;
  7. Calls on the State Party to invite in 2017 an IUCN Advisory mission to review the implementation of the Management Plan and the preservation of the OUV of the property;
  8. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.