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Pirin National Park

Bulgaria
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • 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 2021

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 2021
Requests approved: 1 (from 2004-2004)
Total amount approved : 15,000 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 26 November 2019, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/225/documents/, and providing the following information:

  • The Court case regarding the Ministry of Environment and Water’s (MOEW) decision that no Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is required for the new draft Management Plan for Pirin National Park (PNP) is still ongoing and the new Management Plan has therefore not yet been finalized;
  • The amendments to the current 2004 Management Plan, adopted by the Council of Ministers in December 2017, altering regulations regarding permitted activities and allowing for expansion of recreational facilities and infrastructure in the buffer zone, have been repealed by a Court ruling. In compliance with the Court’s decision, no further development plans, spatial planning or other proposals related to the repealed amendments have been undertaken;
  • The current Management Plan does not provide for strategic planning of socio-economic and spatial developments or land use. Although development plans and construction projects are subject to SEAs, Appropriate Assessments (AA) and stakeholder participation, there is no overarching strategy or collaboration with neighboring municipalities to oversee, plan and develop a common approach and long-term vision for the PNP and surrounding area;
  • During the 2018-2019 period, the MOEW approved a number of Investment Proposals within the property, which were subject to a screening procedure for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and AAs. These projects include improved access and infrastructure for people with disabilities at Yavorov hut, erosion control measures and slope stabilization, strengthening and reconstruction of two pillars of a cable car, construction of additional water supply infrastructure and reconstruction of existing water supply pipelines and water collection facilities, including within the property, as well as projects to improve the conservation status of certain habitats and species. Regarding infrastructure projects, the State Party notes it was concluded that none were likely to cause negative impacts on the property. No information or details about the results of the EIAs and AAs were provided by the State Party.

On 29 April 2020, the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) confirmed the rejection of Decision № EO-1 by the MOEW to not implement an SEA of the draft new Management Plan of PNP. On 10 June 2020, the State Party confirmed to the World Heritage Centre that the MOEW complied with the Court decision and will take the necessary follow-up action.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2021

The information provided by the State Party that the finalization of the new Management Plan for the property remained pending and awaiting the SAC’s decision is noted. Noting also the subsequent SAC decision rejecting the MOEW’s conclusion that no SEA is needed for the new Management Plan, it is therefore appropriate, in acknowledging this ruling, that the Committee requests the State Party to ensure the SEA is completed for the new Management Plan as required, and that this is undertaken as a matter of priority. It is important to ensure that the SEA includes a specific assessment of potential impacts of the new Management Plan on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, including from potential development in areas located within its buffer zone. The new Management Plan should subsequently be developed based on the results of the completed SEA.

The management prescriptions within the new Management Plan will be fundamental to ensure the future protection of the property’s OUV. However, it should be recalled that the 2018 Advisory mission raised concerns about several approaches in the draft, especially regarding grazing, forest and water resource management, and tourism including tourism-related construction and infrastructure development. It is recommended the Committee request the State Party to ensure that the new Management Plan comprehensively addresses these threats and specifies how management priorities will help to maintain the OUV of the property including protection of its integrity. In addition, the recommendations of the IUCN 2018 Advisory mission should be taken into account, to consult NGOs and other stakeholders engaged in the draft Management Plan and its implementation, and to submit the draft Management Plan to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN, prior to its implementation.

The court decision to repeal the amendments to the current 2004 Management Plan, introduced by the Council of Ministers in 2017, is noted.  It is recalled that the World Heritage Centre and IUCN had expressed concern that the amendments would also allow for expansion of skiing infrastructure in the buffer zone of the property. The confirmation by the State Party, that in line with the court decision, no further actions have been undertaken on the development plans and proposals facilitated through these previous amendments, is therefore welcomed. It is reiterated that a common approach for future planning of socio-economic activities and development in the property, its buffer zone, adjacent municipalities and the broader region is critical for the sustainable management and protection of the property’s OUV. Such an approach needs to be enabled through compliance with relevant national legislation and regulations, consistent with the State Party’s obligations under the World Heritage Convention to maintain the property’s OUV and integrity. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to develop a strategic approach for all plans and programmes related to the property, which ensures that all potential future development is harmonised, coordinated and consistent with the above-mentioned regulations.

It is noted that the MOEW has approved several Investment Proposals including for additional water supply from reservoirs located within the PNP. Although the State Party reports that negative impacts on the property are unlikely, no assessment information has been provided including regarding potential impacts on the OUV. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to ensure that the potential impacts of these new projects are thoroughly assessed and that assessments are submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN. Also recalling the 2018 IUCN Advisory mission recommendation, water abstraction volumes should be limited to the property’s water resource capacities so as to not affect its OUV, including the natural processes and ecological functions that underpin it.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7B.101
Pirin National Park (Bulgaria) (N 225bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7B.72, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Notes the Supreme Administrative Court’s final rejection of the Ministry of Environment and Water’s decision that no Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is needed for the new Management Plan for Pirin National Park, and requests the State Party to:
    1. Complete the SEA as a matter of priority, ensuring it includes a specific assessment of potential impacts of the new Management Plan on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, including from potential development in areas located within its buffer zone, and to submit the SEA to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN,
    2. Based on the SEA results, develop the new Management Plan including to ensure it 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, to take into account the relevant recommendations of the IUCN 2018 Advisory mission in the above process to consult with the NGOs and other stakeholders that have concerns regarding the content and implementation of the draft new Management Plan, and to submit a draft to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN;
  4. Also notes the Court’s decision to repeal the amendments introduced by the Council of Ministers to the current Management Plan for Pirin National Park and welcomes the confirmation by the State Party that no further action on development plans linked to the previous amendments have been undertaken in compliance with the Court’s decision;
  5. Also requests the State Party to develop a long-term strategic approach for all plans and programmes related to the property, buffer zone and the broader region, which is agreed among all relevant stakeholders including municipalities, and which ensures that any potential future development is harmonized, coordinated and consistent with regulations protecting the property’s OUV and integrity, and the Operational Guidelines;
  6. Further notes the approval of a number of Investment Proposals including for additional water supply from reservoirs located within the property, and further requests the State Party to ensure that the potential impacts of these projects on the OUV of the property have been thoroughly assessed and to submit assessments to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN;
  7. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2022, 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 46th session.
Draft Decision: 44 COM 7B.101

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7B.72, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Notes the Supreme Administrative Court’s final rejection of the Ministry of Environment and Water’s decision that no Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is needed for the new Management Plan for Pirin National Park, and requests the State Party to:
    1. Complete the SEA as a matter of priority, ensuring it includes a specific assessment of potential impacts of the new Management Plan on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, including from potential development in areas located within its buffer zone, and to submit the SEA to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN,
    2. Based on the SEA results, develop the new Management Plan including to ensure it 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, to take into account the relevant recommendations of the IUCN 2018 Advisory mission in the above process to consult with the NGOs and other stakeholders that have concerns regarding the content and implementation of the draft new Management Plan, and to submit a draft to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN;
  4. Also notes the Court’s decision to repeal the amendments introduced by the Council of Ministers to the current Management Plan for Pirin National Park and welcomes the confirmation by the State Party that no further action on development plans linked to the previous amendments have been undertaken in compliance with the Court’s decision;
  5. Also requests the State Party to develop a long-term strategic approach for all plans and programmes related to the property, buffer zone and the broader region, which is agreed among all relevant stakeholders including municipalities, and which ensures that any potential future development is harmonized, coordinated and consistent with regulations protecting the property’s OUV and integrity, and the Operational Guidelines;
  6. Further notes the approval of a number of Investment Proposals including for additional water supply from reservoirs located within the property, and further requests the State Party to ensure that the potential impacts of these projects on the OUV of the property have been thoroughly assessed and to submit assessments to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN;
  7. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2022, 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 46th session in 2023.
Report year: 2021
Bulgaria
Date of Inscription: 1983
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(ix)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2019) .pdf
Initialy proposed for examination in 2020
arrow_circle_right 44COM (2021)
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.


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