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: USD 24,915 of 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; 2018: IUCN Advisory mission

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 2018

On 1 December 2017, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/225/documents/. Additional information was submitted on 11 January, 4 and 19 April 2018 following the World Heritage Centre’s letters seeking clarifications on third party information regarding amendments to the current Management Plan of the property. These documents report the following:

On 5-9 March 2018, an IUCN Advisory mission visited the property at the request of the State Party to review the draft of the new management plan and the amendments introduced to the current Management Plan of the property.

On 25 May 2018, another letter was sent by the World Heritage Centre to the State Party seeking clarifications regarding third party information reporting that the Supreme Administrative Court of Bulgaria decided to reject the decision of the MOEW to not subject the draft new Management Plan of Pirin National Park to full SEA and AA.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

Regarding the new Management Plan for the property, it is noted that it could not yet be finalized due to Court proceedings. The ruling of the Supreme Administrative Court rejects the decision of the MOEW not to undertake a full SEA for the new Management Plan. This is welcome as the SEA can be an opportunity to address questions regarding the assurance of protection of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property. It is recommended that the Committee seek official confirmation from the State Party regarding the process it will follow subsequent to the Court decision. It is also recommended that the Committee request the State Party to ensure that a full SEA for the new Management Plan for the property is undertaken as a matter of priority, which should include a specific assessment of potential impacts on the OUV of the property, including from potential development in areas located within its buffer zone. The State Party should be requested to submit a copy of the SEA to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN.

Regarding the current Management Plan for Pirin National Park, it is noted that the amendments adopted in December 2017 provide for the construction of water catchment facilities within the zone for protection of forest ecosystems and recreation. As these constructions would take place inside the property, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to provide more detailed information clarifying their potential extent and impacts and in how far these facilities would be related to potential developments in the property’s buffer zone. It is of concern that the amendments would also provide for expansion of skiing infrastructure in the buffer zone of the property. It should be recalled that the Committee in its Decision 37 COM 7B.17, requested the State Party to undertake a SEA of the development of the buffer zone, including consultations with stakeholders. The SEA for the new Management Plan should also address this request. It is therefore recommended that the Committee request the State Party not to implement the amendments to the current Management Plan and not to introduce any new amendments, until the SEA of the new draft Management Plan has been completed.

Once the results of the SEA are available, it is considered crucial to ensure that the new Management Plan comprehensively addresses all potential threats to the OUV of the property and clearly outlines how the management objectives, zoning and land use within Pirin National Park will contribute to protecting, and where possible enhancing the OUV of the property, and preventing any degradation of its integrity, including from socio-economic activities located outside its boundaries, based on the best available scientific knowledge.

It should be noted that the IUCN Advisory mission concluded that development of a clear and comprehensive long-term vision of the socioeconomic development in the buffer zone of the property and the broader region, which would be in line with the goal of long-term protection of the property’s OUV, is also necessary. Such a vision should provide a strategic framework for development, while also ensuring that all relevant stakeholders are involved in the process, facilitated by external mediation, if necessary, in order to achieve a situation where the vision is shared by all stakeholders concerned and provides clear provisions to protect the OUV of the property, including its conditions of integrity. 

Decision Adopted: 42 COM 7B.72

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7B.93, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Notes that the new Management Plan for the property could not yet be finalized due to Court proceedings regarding the procedures for the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA);
  4. Noting the amendments to the current Management Plan for Pirin National Park adopted in December 2017 which now do not prohibit the construction of water catchment facilities within the property, requests the State Party to provide more detailed information on their potential extent, impacts and their relation to potential developments in the property’s buffer zone;
  5. Notes the amendments to the current Management Plan which now do not prohibit for replacement and increase in capacity of skiing infrastructure in the buffer zone of the property and requests the State Party to ensure that such developments will not impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  6. Reiterates that any future developments within the buffer zone of the property need to be guided through strategic planning, and also requests the State Party to:
    1. Implement the Supreme Administrative Court’s Final Decision regarding the SEA procedure for the new Management Plan of the property when it becomes available,
    2. Ensure that an SEA will be undertaken for the spatial planning based on the December 2017 amendments to the current Management Plan as a matter of priority; this SEA will include a specific assessment of potential impacts on the OUV of the property, including from potential development in areas located within the property and its buffer zone, and submit a copy of the results from the SEA to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN, once they become available,
    3. Refrain from introducing any new amendments, until the procedure for SEA of the draft new Management Plan has been completed,
    4. Once the results of the decision of the Supreme Administrative Court, concerning the SEA for the new Management Plan become available, ensure that the new Management Plan comprehensively addresses all potential threats to the OUV of the property and clearly outlines how the management objectives, zoning and land use within Pirin National Park will contribute to enhancing the OUV of the property and preventing any degradation of its integrity, and to take into account the relevant recommendations of the IUCN 2018 Advisory mission in the above process;
  7. Strongly encourages the State Party to develop a clear and comprehensive long-term vision for socio-economic development in the buffer zone of the property and the broader region, which would be in line with the goal of long-term protection of the property’s OUV, ensuring that all relevant stakeholders are appropriately involved in the process, facilitated by external mediation, if necessary;
  8. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2019, a progress report with an update on the Supreme Administrative Court’s ruling and by 1 December 2019, 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 44th session in 2020.