XII.14 As requested by the 25th session of the World Heritage Committee and its Bureau, a joint UNESCO/IUCN monitoring mission was undertaken to the site from 11 to 16 February 2002. The Bureau noted that the full report of the mission is currently being finalized and that it will be presented to the Committee at its 26th session.
XII.15 The Bureau noted a number of preliminary mission findings and recommendations, in particular that potential threats to the site preceded the current development proposal, the lack of boundary maps and Management Plan at the time of the nomination, as well as the development of a ski area within the site. The new ski development inside the site concerns an additional 29.71 ha of forest disturbance within the 818.46 ha. Furthermore, the Bureau noted that an all-season cable car is proposed. The mission noted that allowing that this development would set a precedent for further ski development proposals and continued erosion of the site. Remediable actions would be required, in particular for effective management controls and reforestation. The Bureau furthermore noted delays in the completion of the Management Plan, and that an ‘Interim Plan’ is to be prepared to guide development and management of the site.
XII.16 The mission recommended a number of actions to be undertaken by the State Party, including the provision of clarifications and updated information on the approved development, and notice of the conclusion of all appeals, accurate boundary maps of the site of Pirin (1983) showing the existing and proposed ski development areas, the development and adoption of an ‘Interim’ Management Plan covering management objectives, regulations on development, staffing, visitor use and presentation and the creation of a Scientific Advisory Body for the site of Pirin. The Bureau noted that the State Party already provided detailed information dated 29 March 2002 including a map, an interim report on the status of the management plan and the extension of the site, which will be reviewed by IUCN and the Centre. The Bureau noted that this was a positive step, as the mission had recommended that in case such action is not taken, the Committee may consider inscribing Pirin World Heritage site on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
XII.17 IUCN noted that new ski developments have not been allowed on other sites since their inscription on the World Heritage list. IUCN welcomed the assurance from the State Party that no new ski development would be approved within the site.
XII.18 The Bureau adopted the following recommendation for action by the 26th session of the Committee:
"The Committee notes the results of the report provided by the UNESCO-IUCN mission to the site and the number of existing and potential threats to the values and integrity of the site, including boundary issues, the lack of a management plan, and a new ski development proposal with forest disturbance. The Committee urges the State Party to implement the recommendations of the mission and take remedial actions to ensure that the World Heritage values of the site are protected. These actions should include: the development of effective management controls, reforestation of disturbed areas, the creation of a scientific advisory body and the provision of an interim management plan awaiting the management plan which should be finalized as a matter of urgency. The Committee welcomed the immediate response by the State Party to some of the concerns raised by the mission and invites the authorities to apply for international assistance as indicated in the mission report. The Committee acknowledged the support provided by the State Party of Switzerland for the preparation of the Biodiversity Conservation Management Plan for Pirin National Park and World Heritage site. The Committee may wish to review additional material that may be available at the time of its 26th session and decide whether or not the conditions of potential threats as indicated in paragraph 83 (ii a, b, d) of the Operational Guidelines would be fulfilled".