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 1995-2004)
Total amount approved: USD 21,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/225/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

World Heritage Centre / IUCN missions 2002 and 2004

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Developments in the Bansko ski zone;

b) Lack of effective management mechanisms;

c) Boundary issues;

d) Illegal logging.

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2007

In 2006, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN received a report from the NGO Coalition “Save Pirin” assessing legal issues as well as environmental and socio-economic impacts of the developments in the Bansko ski zone in Pirin National Park. This ski zone is currently located within the property. The NGOs reported that the ski zone, with 100ha built “legally” and 150 ha built “illegally”, has been expanded three times since 2000. According to the report, the ski resort includes in its current form 12 ski slopes (of which only 6 were submitted to an EIA), 21 cable ways (of which only seven were submitted to an EIA), buildings and other infrastructure as well as three ski roads.

In September 2006, the State Party provided following information in response to the NGO report in a letter to the World Heritage Centre: A ski resort with six ski runs was first constructed within the property near the town of Bansko in 1986. A new Territorial Arrangement Plan (TAP), subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment approved in 2000, envisaged a development of further ski runs and other facilities in the 99.55 ha ski zone as well as the rehabilitation of two former ski runs abandoned in the meantime. A concession contract for the construction and exploitation of the ski zone was given to Yulen Company in 2001 and the company’s activities have been monitored at national and local level. Until the end of 2005, 12 violations of the concession agreements were registered, resulting in sanctions of more than USD 30,000. There was no violation since then. An amendment to the TAP was approved in 2005 on the request of the concessionaire. This amendment allows for changes in the development of the ski runs and other facilities in the 99.55 ha ski zone. The 10-year Management Plan for Pirin National Park approved in 2004 prohibits the construction of further ski zones and the expansion of existing ski zones in the park. The concessionaire is currently undertaking measures to mitigate the erosion caused by the development of the ski runs. The Ministry of Environment and Water is monitoring these activities.

In January 2007, the World Heritage Centre received a complete re-nomination of Pirin National Park, which now includes the important central high mountain zone which was not part of the national park at the time of its inscription. With this re-nomination, which is being evaluated for the 32nd session of the World Heritage Committee in 2008, the State Party proposes to extend the 27,400 ha World Heritage property by about 13,000 ha. However, in contrast to previous recommendations to exclude the Bansko ski zone from the World Heritage property and include it in an extended buffer zone, it proposes to retain the Bansko ski zone within the extended World Heritage property. The 2004 World Heritage Centre / IUCN mission had confirmed that the extension of the ski zone had been realized within the existing World Heritage property. In principle, major infrastructure should not be located within the boundaries of natural World Heritage properties.

IUCN and the World Heritage Centre are concerned about the reported environmental and socio-economic impacts of the developments in the Bansko ski zone, in particular due to the policy of giving concessions to private companies that are incompatible with the conservation objectives of the property, including the concession for the development of the Bansko ski zone. The lack of control of the concessionaires has resulted in their failing to operate in accordance with concession agreements, leading to adverse impacts on the values of the property. The State Party should closely monitor the ongoing developments and implementation of mitigation measures.

Other concerns relate to the continued hotel developments in the town of Bansko, outside the property, which have led and will continue to lead to a large increase in the town’s accommodation capacity, which is not matched by the capacity of the current ski zone. This creates additional pressure for future development of ski facilities in the area. The State Party should ensure, as stipulated in the 2004 Management Plan, that no further development of ski facilities or extension of the tourism zones is allowed within the property and confirm its commitment in relation to this issue. Furthermore, tourism pressure, especially during peak season and on weekends, has resulted in heavy motor traffic on the main road inside the property. It is urgently required to monitor the impacts of this motor traffic and to take actions to minimize any adverse impacts to the property. The State Party may therefore wish to explore options such as establishing a shuttle service during peak season and on weekends in order to limit private motor traffic, following the example of Vitosha National Park.

Finally, it is noted that recent activities in relation to the implementation of the Management Plan included the establishment of both a Scientific Council and Consultative Council. IUCN notes, however, that the property could still benefit from developing and implementing a comprehensive long-term monitoring programme with indicators that could easily be monitored by the park staff in order to objectively measure impacts of tourism developments and progress made in the implementation of the Management Plan.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 31 COM 7B.27

The World Heritage Committee,

1.Having examined Document WHC-07/31.COM/7B,

2.Recalling Decisions 28 COM 15B.21 and 29 COM 7B.23, adopted at its 28th (Suzhou, 2004) and 29th (Durban, 2005) sessions respectively,

3.Commends the State Party for the progress made in implementing the recommendations of the joint 2004 World Heritage Centre / IUCN mission and urges the authorities to continue to fully implement all recommendations including developing and implementing a long-term monitoring programme;

4.Notes that the State Party has submitted, for evaluation by the 32nd session of the Committee in 2008, a re-nomination to extend the property which is expected to help to better define the boundaries of the property based on its outstanding universal value and issues of integrity;

5.Requests the State Party to ensure that no further development of ski facilities or extension of the tourism zones is allowed within the property;

6.Also urges the State Party to ensure that all existing and new concessions given to private companies operating in the property are compatible with the conservation objectives, to closely monitor the ongoing developments and implementation of mitigation measures, and to explore options for limiting the private motor traffic inside the property;

7.Requests the State Party to keep the World Heritage Centre and IUCN informed of progress made in implementing the recommendations of the joint 2004 mission and of any important changes in the state of conservation of the property.