The Ministries of Tourism and of Sports are begging UNESCO to exclude more areas in the Pirin National Park from the World Natural Heritage list, so that new ski areas can be built. The response of the Director of the World Heritage Centre of UNESCO has crushed the demands of the Bulgarian representatives.
It is outrageous that the meeting has not been attended by representatives of the Ministry of Environment and Waters as it is in charge of the National Park and the World Heritage sites in Bulgaria. The idea of excluding new parts of Pirin from the site of UNESCO has never been presented for discussion to the Bulgarian public. Environmentalists learned from the official correspondence with the State institutions that on July 15, 2015, in Paris, the Directors of Administrative Legal Services in the Ministries of Tourism and Sports, together with the head of the company that prepares the new management plan for Pirin National Park, have proposed to the Director of the World Heritage Centre of UNESCO, Kishore Rao, serious “cuts” of the World Heritage in Pirin. The minutes of the meeting of the Bulgarian representatives with Rao show that the proposal has tested the idea of new tourist areas, planned by the company “Proles Engineering”, to occupy 10% of the territory of Pirin National Park that is to be excluded from the Natural World Heritage.
The Ministries of Tourism and of Sports have long and shamelessly lobbied for the extension of the ski zone in Bansko to other parts of Pirin National Park. This is currently prohibited by the Protected Areas Act and the current management plan for the National Park. UNESCO excluded the ski areas in Bansko and Dobrinishte from the list of World Heritage sites in 2010, as it considered nature there to be irreversibly destroyed and urbanized. The answer of Kishore Rao from UNESCO, however, crushed the aspirations of the Bulgarian representatives:
– If the Ministry of Tourism wants to develop tourism, it is not necessary to be within the World Heritage site Pirin – for this they have all the rest of the territory of the country.
– The World Heritage Convention of UNESCO requires detailed management plans for all areas and if the plan for Pirin provides for tourist activity, there is need of an environmental impact assessment of (EIA). The currently-prepared new draft management plan for Pirin National Park is neither detailed nor has a report on environmental impact
– In its present form the draft management plan for Pirin National Park is unacceptable.
– Bulgaria has proposed and the Convention has accepted that within the heritage site of Pirin, skiing will not be developed, but the proposal discussed now is the exact opposite of this position. Officially, the Ministry of Tourism explained that it sent one of its employees to Paris to “become aware of the processes and the development of the management plan for the park”.
The Coalition “For the Nature in Bulgaria” is asking the Minister of Tourism Nikolina Angelkova the following:
– Who is your employer? Apparently not the taxpayer, because you have not presented to the public ideas to reduce the World Heritage site Pirin National Park. Nor is this employer the Council of Ministers, because these ideas have not been discussed there as well.
– Have you at all informed the Ministry of Environment and Waters about the results of the meeting with UNESCO in Paris?
– Previous attempts by the Ministry of Tourism for the patronage of ideas for development of protected areas are clearly not only attributed to the youth and inexperience of its staff. Who sets your agenda Minister Angelkova? Pirin National Park was declared World Heritage site at the Convention for the Protection of World Heritage by UNESCO in 1983 with an area of 24,000 hectares. Under Bulgarian legislation, the protected area of the National Park is over 40,000 hectares.
The government of the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party unequivocally demonstrates once again that it is working secretly not for the interests of Bulgarian society, but for those of oligarchic groups, ready to destroy the unique natural beauty of Bulgaria, only to reap dirty profits for private interest.
This post is also available in: Bulgarian