Take advantage of the search to browse through the World Heritage Centre information.

Pirin National Park

Bulgaria
Factors affecting the property in 2018*
  • Commercial development
  • Illegal activities
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
  • Management systems/ management plan
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Commercial development (developments in the Bansko ski zone)
  • Management systems/ management plan (lack of effective management mechanisms)
  • Management and institutional factors (boundary issues)
  • Illegal activities (illegal logging) 
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2018

Total amount granted: USD 24,915 of financial support from the Participation Programme of UNESCO for development of a strategy for sustainable tourism (2010)

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2018
Requests approved: 1 (from 2004-2004)
Total amount approved : 15,000 USD
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:

  • A new draft Management Plan for Pirin National Park has been further revised and reviewed by the Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW), which subsequently decided that there would not be a need to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). This decision has been challenged in court and therefore the plan could not yet be adopted. This delay has prevented further progress with the implementation of the remaining recommendations of the 2011 Reactive Monitoring mission, such as the development of a monitoring programme for impacts on the property from skiing activities in its buffer zone;
  • In December 2017, the Bulgarian Council of Ministers adopted amendments to the current Management Plan, which remains in force until the new plan is adopted. The amendments allow for the replacement and increase in capacity of the existing ski facilities and the construction of associated infrastructure in the buffer zone of the property, as well as permitting construction of water catchment facilities inside the property (within the zone for protection of forest ecosystems and recreation). All possible projects that could be allowed with the introduction of these amendments will be subject to the necessary impact assessments. Following the adoption of these amendments, a development plan for the buffer zone will also be drafted, which will outline parameters for potential development and will be subject to the necessary procedures, including SEA and Appropriate Assessment (AA);
  • During the reporting period, no new significant developments or projects related to construction of new infrastructure have been approved or implemented within the property and its buffer zone. Only proposals related to maintenance of existing infrastructure were approved.

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 Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2018

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. 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2018
42 COM 7B.72
Pirin National Park (Bulgaria) (N 225bis)

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.
Draft Decision: 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 and welcomes the recent ruling of the Supreme Administrative Court of Bulgaria to reject the decision of the Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW) not to undertake a full Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the new Management Plan;
  4. Noting the amendments to the current Management Plan for Pirin National Park adopted in December 2017 providing for 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 with concern that the amendments to the current Management Plan would provide for replacement and increase in capacity of skiing infrastructure in the buffer zone 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. Confirm its response to the Supreme Administrative Court’s Decision regarding the SEA procedure for the new Management Plan of the property,
    2. 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 Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, including from potential development in areas located within the property and its buffer zone, and submit a copy of the SEA to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN, once it becomes available,
    3. Not implement the December 2017 amendments to the current Management Plan and refrain from introducing any new amendments, until the SEA of the draft new Management Plan has been completed,
    4. Once the results of the SEA are 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 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, 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 43rd session in 2019.
Report year: 2018
Bulgaria
Date of Inscription: 1983
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(ix)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2017) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 42COM (2018)
Exports

* : 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”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


top