Pirin National Park
Spread over an area of over 27,000 ha, at an altitude between 1008 and 2914 m in the Pirin Mountains, southwest Bulgaria, the site comprises diverse limestone mountain landscapes with glacial lakes, waterfalls, caves and predominantly coniferous forests. It was added to the World Heritage List in 1983. The extension now covers an area of around 40,000 ha in the Pirin Mountains, and overlaps with the Pirin National Park, except for two areas developed for tourism (skiing). The dominant part of the extension is high mountain territory over 2000m in altitude, and covered mostly by alpine meadows, rocky screes and summits.
Outstanding Universal Value
The World Heritage property covers an area of around 40,000 ha in the Pirin Mountains, southwest Bulgaria, and overlaps with the undeveloped areas of Pirin National Park. The diverse limestone mountain landscapes of the property include over 70 glacial lakes and a range of glacial landforms, with many waterfalls, rocky screes and caves. Forests are dominated by conifers, and the higher areas harbour alpine meadows below the summits. The property includes a range of endemic and relict species that are representative of the Balkan Pleistocene flora.
Criterion (vii): The mountain scenery of Pirin National Park is of exceptional beauty. The high mountain peaks and crags contrast with meadows, rivers and waterfalls and provide the opportunity to experience the aesthetics of a Balkan mountain landscape. The ability to experience remoteness and naturalness is an important attribute of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property.
Criterion (viii): The principal earth science values of the property relate to its glacial geomorphology, demonstrated through a range of features including cirques, deep valleys and over 70 glacial lakes. The mountains of the property show a variety of forms and have been developed in several different rock types. Functioning natural processes allow for study of the continued evolution of the landforms of the property, and help to understand other upland areas in the region.
Criterion (ix): The property is a good example of the continuing evolution of flora, as evidenced by a number of endemic and relict species, and the property also protects an example of a functioning ecosystem that is representative of the important natural ecosystems of the Balkan uplands. Pirin’s natural coniferous forests include Macedonian Pine and Bosnian Pine, with many old growth trees. In total, there are 1,315 species of vascular plants, about one third of Bulgaria’s flora, including 86 Balkan endemics, 17 Bulgarian endemics and 18 local endemics. The fauna of Pirin National Park includes 45 mammal species, including brown bear, wolf and pine marten, and 159 bird species. Pirin is also home to eight species of amphibians, eleven species of reptiles and six fish species. Although the forests are affected by some historical use, the natural functioning of the ecosystem ensures the protection of its regionally significant biodiversity values.
The original inscription of the property in 1983 proved to be inadequate in representing and maintaining the Outstanding Universal Value of Pirin, but an extension in 2010 has addressed the issues to the best possible degree and represents the minimum area of Pirin National Park that can be considered to correspond to the requirements of Outstanding Universal Value set out in the World Heritage Convention.
The National Park is clearly defined from the point of view of its mountainous nature and ecology, and the boundaries of the property are of sufficient size to capture the natural values of Pirin. Adequate boundaries have been established through the extension of the initially inscribed property, to include the most remote areas of the interior of the National Park, and exclude adjacent areas that are not compatible with World Heritage status due to impacts on integrity from ski development. The values of the property as extended retain the attributes of a natural landscape but they closely adjoin areas subject to intensive tourism development that are a risk to the integrity of the property.
Protection and management requirements
The property is covered by national legislation which should ensure strong national protection of the values of the property, including the prevention of encroachment from adjoining development. It is essential that this legislation is rigorously enforced and is respected by all levels of government that have responsibilities in the area. The property also has an effective and functioning management plan, provided its implementation can be ensured through adequate resources to both maintain the necessary staffing levels and undertake the necessary management activities to protect and manage the property. A system of regular monitoring of the natural values of Pirin and ongoing programmes to maintain habitats and landforms in their natural state, avoid disturbance and other impacts on wildlife, and to preserve the aesthetic values of the property are required.
The World Heritage property has long been subject to tourism pressure, largely caused by the development of ski facilities and ski runs. Small ski areas were developed at Bansko, Dobrinishte and Kulinoto in the 1980s and 1990s. Activities such as night skiing, off-piste skiing and heliskiing are activities which may affect the values and integrity of the property and require rigorous control. Bansko, adjoining the property, has become one of the most rapidly developing towns in Bulgaria with hotels and holiday resorts constructed literally on the park boundary. Tourism development within and around the property has not been effectively controlled in the past including some areas that were developed within the property and caused significant damage. The management plan for the property needs to ensure a long-term priority for the protection of the natural values of Pirin, and to guard against any encroachments and impacts within the property from skiing, sporting events or other inappropriate development. Equally the planning documents that are created by national, regional and local authorities need to similarly ensure the protection of the natural values of the property, and also integrate the benefits it provides as a natural landscape to the surrounding area.
Other threats to the property include illegal logging, poaching and the use of snow mobiles and quad bikes. These uses require close monitoring, management and the enforcement of effective regulations. The management of visitor use to both prevent negative impacts and provide opportunities to experience the values of the property in a sustainable way is also an essential long term requirement for this property.
Extending over an area of 27,400 ha and lying at an altitude of 1,008-2,914 m in the Pirin mountains, south-west Bulgaria, Pirin National Park has a limestone Balkan landscape, with lakes, waterfalls, caves and pine forests. The rugged mountains, with some 70 glacial lakes scattered throughout them, are home to hundreds of endemic and rare species, many of which are representative of the Balkan Pleistocene flora. The mountains also have diverse and unique landscapes of great aesthetic value.
Pirin Mountain stretches from north-west to south-east between the valleys of the Strouma and Mesta rivers. There are many rivers and waterfalls. Winter in the upper parts is cold and long with snow cover remaining for five to eight months. Summer is cool and short.
The presence of limestone rocks, the southerly position of the range and close proximity to the Aegean, coupled with its relative isolation, have made Pirin Mountain an important refuge for many species. Forests in the park are mainly coniferous with endemic Macedonian pine being widespread and forming the timberline in the granite part of the mountain. Endemic Bossnian pine occurs in the highest zone of the karst area. Unique stands of Pinus peuce and Pinus leucodermis , up to 250-300 years old and 30-45 m high, are found in Baiouvi Doupki-Djindjiritsa Reserve. Some individual Pinus leucodermis trees are over 500 years old. Silver fir, Austrian pine, spruce, Scots pine and beech form a mixed coniferous forest type.
Generally, the timberline has developed as a result of human interference over a long period and descends as low as 2,000 m, but in some places reaches 2,200-2,300 m. In the subalpine zone there are thickets of dwarf mountain pine and Juniperus sibirica . Above 2,400-2,600 m is a layer of alpine meadows, stony slopes, screes, rocks, etc.
The flora of Pirin, comprising as it does many rare species, is of great interest and beauty. One of the most active flora speciation in Bulgaria is situated in the limestone part of the mountain. Pirin has a mixture of central European, Alpine, Balkan mountain and sub-Mediterranean species, but in addition there are about 30 local endemic species.
There is a wide variety of animal species including many endemic species and glacial relicts among the invertebrate fauna. Threatened bird and mammal species include brown bear, grey wolf, pine marten, rock marten, polecat, badger, otter, wild cat, red deer, roe deer, wild boar, Balkan chamois, golden eagle, capercaillie, hazel grouse, eagle owl, black woodpecker and three-toed woodpecker.Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
In 1963 Vikhren National Park (6,212ha) was established in the northern part of the Pirin mountains under Decree No. 3074 of 6 November 1962 of the Committee of Forestry and Forestry Management. In 1976 it was enlarged 27,OOOha and renamed Pirin National Park (Decree No. 1036 of 3 March 1976, Ministry of Forestry). Pirin NP was enlarged to 40,060ha in 1987 (Decree No. 1036 of 17 November, Committee of Environmental Protection at the Council of Ministers. Baevi Doubki Natural Reserve was established in 1934, extended in 1976 and renamed Baevi Doupki - Dzindzeritza (2,873ha) in 1979. It was declared a biosphere reserve in 1977.Source: Advisory Body Evaluation