Bulgarians protest against illegal construction on the Black Sea coast and in a national park



Posted on 15 February 2013  | 
people protest in the night
Four protests in Sofia and other cities have taken place so far
© forthenature.orgEnlarge
Sofia, Bulgaria – The fourth protest in less than a month organized by citizen groups and NGOs in Bulgaria demonstrated massive public support for the protection of Bulgarian Black Sea coast and Pirin National Park. The rallies in many cities of the country were called for by ‘For the Nature’ coalition in which WWF is a founding member.

While the coastline is under threat from illegal construciton, the century-old forests of Pirin mountains may be logged for the construction of ski runs and facilities, new hotels and apartment houses.

The protest was organized ahead of an expert council at the Ministry of the Environment on 19 February, which will decide on the proposal of Bansko municipality for changes in the management plan of Pirin National Park. These would allow for the construction on 65% of the territory of the park including in the Bansko Ski Zone. In order to be finalized the decision has to be signed by environment minister Nona Karadzhova and then by the Government.

Two years ago Nona Karadzhova confirmed the suspicions of conservation NGOs and stated that Bansko Ski Zone is actually 65% larger than the area stated in the concession.

No responsibility was taken by local authorities or concessioner. Then the Bansko mayor proposed changes in the Pirin National Park management plan that will allow for further construction of lifts, ski runs and even hotels.

‘This will affect the centuries-old forests and unique landscapes because of which Pirin is a national park included in the UNESCO World Heritage.’, Katerina Rakovska, Protected Areas Officer for WWF Bulgaria says.

More nature under threat in Bulgaria 

Not only mountains are under threat in Bulgaria. In the last days of 2011 an NGO activist published pictures of dunes being bulldozed near the Black Sea town of Nessebar. According to Bulgarian legislation it is not possible to build on dunes.

Following the case, a heated debate started, which led Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to state that he would listen to NGO proposals how to stop the illegal construction on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast and save the dunes, wetlands, steppes and wild beaches. ‘For the Nature’ coalition sent a six-step plan to put an end to the destruction of the Black Sea coast. It includes a moratorium on the issue of construction permits in all zones of the European network of protected areas Natura 2000 by the Black Sea and the creation of a new nature park along the coast. For now the proposal has not been reviewed by the government.

In 2007 protests of Bulgarian citizens managed to save Strandzha Nature Park by the Black Sea coast, which was about to be literally closed down to allow for an illegal resort to be finished. In 2012 the public outcry stopped amendments to the Forest Act which would have allowed for the acquisition of building rights on public land without tender and for an indefinite period including in protected areas and for the construction of ski runs and ski facilities without changing land use.
 
people protest in the night
Four protests in Sofia and other cities have taken place so far
© forthenature.org Enlarge
Kamchiiski pyasytsi, Bulgaria’s longest remaining natural beach on the Black Sea coast, is threatened by construction despite its dunes
© Zlatni Pyassatci Nature Park Directorate Enlarge

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