UNESCO: Building New Ski Facilities in Bulgaria's Pirin Is Inadmissible
Bulgaria must not allow the construction of new ski facilities and ski zones on the territory of the Pirin National Park, according to a recent report of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee cited by the "For the Nature" Coalition.
UNESCO representatives conducted an inspection in Pirin in October 2011 to determine the impact of the replacement of ski facilities by the Yulen AD company and to decide whether the site had to be inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The experts concluded that the replacement of two ski lifts, which had been carried out against the law (the facilities did not match the site development plans and lacked Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs)) , had had no negative impact on the Pirin National Park and there was no need to change the status of the site.
Meanwhile, UNESCO also pointed out that the construction of the ski zone in the Bulgarian mountain resort of Bansko had inflicted the maximum permissible damage upon the environment in the Pirin National Park.
According to the experts' conclusions, the areas affected by the construction works did not suffer substantial damage during the construction of the new lifts.
The report also cautioned about the lack of transparency in the authorities' decision-making and the violations of the boundaries of the zones in the Pirin National Park and the lax control over the construction of ski facilities in the Bansko ski zone.
UNESCO further issued strong recommendations to Bulgaria to not allow the construction of new ski facilities and ski zones on the territory of the site.
The authors of the report insisted that the replacement of existing ski facilities in the ski zones in Bansko, Kulinoto and Dobrinishte had to be carried out in line with Bulgarian laws and site development documents.
They further noted that the repair works of ski facilities had to be followed by restorative measures, which were all too easily skipped by investors.
The damage caused by the Bansko ski zone led to its territory being taken off the UNESCO's World Heritage List and being included in the so-called buffer zone of the site.
UNESCO further criticized Bulgaria over the economically unfeasible excessive construction in Bansko and Razlog, which prevented a balanced and sustainable use of the world-famous site in Pirin.
In conclusion, the World Heritage Committee called on institutions and the business sector to look for opportunities to diversify the tourist services in the area of the Pirin National Park, thereby reducing the dependence of local economies on the one-sided development of the seasonal ski tourism.
UNESCO suggested making optimal use of the mineral spring resources, improving the technical and the sanitary-hygienic conditions at tourist sites in the national park, etc.
The proposals were also included in the Strategy for Sustainable Development of Natural Resources in the Pirin National Park prepared by the Pirin National Park's governing body with the financial and expert assistance of UNESCO.
According to "For the Nature" Coalition, for a year and a half Bulgaria's government has failed to shed light on its plans for the overbuilt area of 650 decares which is currently being used illegally by the Bansko ski zone and lies beyond the territory stipulated in the concession contract for the Pirin National Park.
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