Fresh attempts to build new ski developments in Pirin National Park



Posted on 03 January 2013  | 
Illegal Tomba ski run in Pirin National Park, Bulgaria
Illegal Tomba ski run in Pirin National Park, Bulgaria
© For the Nature coalitionEnlarge
WWF and Bulgaria’s “For the Nature“ coalition have strongly criticised the proposal of the mayor of controversial Bulgarian ski resort Bansko to create further 20-30 km of new ski runs and to construct another gondola.

In 2009 an analysis of a satellite picture of Bansko Ski Zone, built in Pirin National Park, demonstrated that it exceeds the territory designated by the concession twice. Nearly two years later, following mounting public pressure, Bulgaria's Minister of Environment and Water admitted that the concessionaire Yulen was using a territory larger by about 65 ha than the one designated by the concession. This makes around 40% of Bansko Ski Zone illegal.

The construction of up to 30 km new ski runs will double the actual size of the ski area, making it three times bigger than what the concession permits.

“So far the state has not punished the violation of the concession agreement in any way”, said Konstantin Ivanov, Head of Communications and Marketing at WWF in Bulgaria. “This leads to further attempts to boost development in the National Park”.

Pirin National Park was included in the List of World Cultural and Natural Heritage Sites of UNESCO in 1983. Because of Bansko Ski Zone and the continuing attempts for its enlargement, UNESCO declared that either Bulgaria should guarantee that the construction of ski resorts in Pirin National Park will be stopped or UNESCO will designate it as a world natural heritage site in danger, which would have consequences for the image of Bulgaria.

“If the Bulgarian state allows the construction of new ski runs and gondola, this would be in breach of the concession agreement, the recommendations of UNESCO and the management plan of the National Park”, Ivanov said.

Background – Bansko Ski Zone

  • The concession contract for the ski zone in Pirin National Park was signed in 2001. The concession rights were given to Yulen JSCo., whose present major shareholders are two offshore companies and Bansko municipality.
  • In 2004 the government adopted a Management Plan of Pirin National Park as each park must have. The plans are valid for 10 years. The plan stated that Bansko Ski Zone could not be enlarged more than what was envisaged in the 2001 concession contract.
  • In 2009 an analysis of a satellite picture of the Bansko Ski Zone demonstrated that it exceeds the territory designated by the concession twice. Nearly two years later, following mounting public pressure, the Minister of Environment and Water Nona Karadzhova admitted that Yulen was using (i.e. had cut down and destroyed) a territory larger – by about 65 ha - than the one designated by the concession of Bansko Ski Zone. This makes around 40% of Bansko Ski Zone illegal.
Illegal Tomba ski run in Pirin National Park, Bulgaria
Illegal Tomba ski run in Pirin National Park, Bulgaria
© For the Nature coalition Enlarge

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