Pirin: The forest with the oldest tree in the Balkans threatened by industrial scale logging | WWF

Pirin: The forest with the oldest tree in the Balkans threatened by industrial scale logging

Posted on 25 October 2016    
The construction of Bansko Ski Zone, Pirin National Park, Bulgaria
The construction of Bansko Ski Zone, Pirin National Park, Bulgaria
© Petko Tsvetkov
Sofia – Pirin National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage and EU Natura 2000 site, home to brown bear, wolf and many threatened species, some of them endemic or unique for Europe. A proposed management plan for Pirin National Park will allow infrastructure construction on 12,5-times bigger territory compared to the current area. The plan that goes for approval to the Bulgarian government says that nearly 60 per cent of the territory of the park could be opened to logging. Currently, this is allowed on 0 per cent of Pirin territory.
 
National laws, European nature directives and international treaties are supposed to ensure that Pirin National Park is protected as its diverse area is an unusual ecological refuge for hundreds of rare species including flora and fauna typical only for the Balkan region. The park shelters 159 bird species among which are the rarest woodpecker in Europe - the Eurasian three-toed woodpecker. 216 endemics, 176 relicts and 15 species included in the World and European Lists of Endangered Species are found in Pirin. Bulgarian government should protect this unique European and world heritage.

1,300 years old endemic Bosnian pine tree harbors in Pirin

The majestic coniferous forests in Pirin National Park hide a 1,300 years old endemic pine called Baykucheva mura, believed to be the oldest tree on the Balkan peninsula. In the park territory there are 1,315 species of vascular plants, which is about one third of Bulgaria’s flora, including 86 Balkan endemics. Pirin is the only place to see the beautiful yellow Pirin poppy, Urumov Kozhuharov oxytropis, the medicinal Pirin thyme and Pirin’s landmark - the edelweiss. The wide variety of plant life supports rich forest ecosystems and many animals endangered in Europe - brown bear, wolf, Balkan chamois, golden eagle, and pine marten, all included in the European Habitats Directive and the Berne Convention on Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats.

More than 200 vertebrate species also dwell in Pirin National Park, among which are the European tree frog (Hila arborea) and the Eastern Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni), both of which are included in The Red Book of endangered species.
 
Covering a territory of ca. 40,000 ha, Pirin is one of three national parks in Bulgaria featuring the most representative landscapes and ecosystems with high conservation regime. The diverse limestone mountain sites in Pirin include over 70 glacial lakes and a range of glacial landforms, with many waterfalls, rocky screes and caves. The breathtaking views and magical forests bring variety of tourism opportunities that exclude massive forests logging.

Save the rich biodiversity in Pirin National Park

WWF urges Bulgarian Prime Minister Borissov to save the Pirin World Heritage and EU Natura 2000 site by halting any further construction and industrial-scale logging, and by not approving the disastrous new draft management plan of Pirin National Park.
 
In 2010, UNESCO excluded the ski areas above Bansko from the World Heritage site because the outstanding universal value of Pirin has been repeatedly and significantly negatively impacted by industrial developments. WWF urges that we should not allow another 60% of the forest to be excluded.
 
Unless threats are removed, Pirin could lose the beauty and natural wealth, which now belongs to the whole world.
Help us #SavePirin: https://makeyourmark.panda.org/pirin 
The construction of Bansko Ski Zone, Pirin National Park, Bulgaria
The construction of Bansko Ski Zone, Pirin National Park, Bulgaria
© Petko Tsvetkov Enlarge
The beautiful mountain landscapes of Pirin National Park.
© Димитър Граматиков Enlarge
Bansko, in the heart of Pirin National Park in Bulgaria, is a popular ski destination that has become infamous for being the first of a series of illegal ski developments in Bulgarian protected areas.
© Save Pirin Coalition Enlarge

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