Pirin National Park in Bulgaria is one of the most important protected area and Wilderness in Europe. But in reality, this area is permanently under the attack and threat. Is does not seem to matter that Pirin National Park was declared as protected already several decades ago. Governments are changing, however their interests stay the same and thus the threats remain. And the threats are becoming bigger and bigger. It is like a never ending circle. The power of money and business interest seems to be stronger then legislative protection. It is stronger than any international recognition. It seems to be stronger than any vision and need to protect the wild remnants and biodiversity of our planet.

We know that Pirin still has  an extremely high Wilderness potential. Even despite several decades of permanent development attacks. The area is continuously in our scope, and local initiatives approached us multiple times to underline the Wilderness value of this area. We could communicate on Pirin as unique Wilderness and invite Pirin Wilderness to join the European Wilderness Network,

said Vlado Vancura Deputy Chairman, European Wilderness Society.

Please also read: Wilderness in Pirin is under threat and European Commission takes Bulgaria to court.

Pirin Wilderness history

Real protection in the Pirin Mountains started too late. It was too late to really protect these mountains and avoid massive investment and developments. In 1934, two small nature reserves Bayuvi Dupki–Dzhindzhiritsa and Yulen were established.  That was the first glimpse of nature protection in this arae.

The Bulgarian society decided to protect the larger part of Pirin Mountains only several decades later. That happened in 1964, when the Pirin National Park was established. That was time when many national parks and strict reserves with complex legislative protection in Eastern Europe already existed.

Later on, several international recognitions highlighted the importance of this area. It started in 1977, when the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme included a small part of Pirin National Park in network of Biosphere Reserves. Afterwards in 1983, UNESCO also included the area to the UNESCO Word Heritage Site network. The international importance further increased, when BirdLife International listed whole park as an important bird and biodiversity area. Recently, a big part of the Pirin Mountains become part of Natura 2000 network.

Dramatic changes

The dramatic changes in Pirin National Park happened in the 90’s. At this time, the first wave of massive investment and development hit this area. The conservation statute was not longer important. Internationaly recognised areas were small and there was plenty of space for development around. Investors simply ignored the international recognitions. Argument that the area is a national park, was not strong enough to stop developments. This resulted in a massive ski centre and a huge investment in and around the village Bansko.

Our Deputy Chairman, Vlado Vancura, is a living chronicle of this area. He knows these mountains from the time when Bansko used to be a small village at the foothill of Pirin Mountains. He visited and studied this area already in 1975 and several times afterwards.

Current attack of developers

The current struggle is almost an endless story. One small victory is often followed by a big failure with devastating impact on Pirin’s nature. Companies already logged thousands of trees. Bulldozers moved tons of soil from one place to another just to make ski slopes. It looks like the ski industry does not have compassion. Despite of the global ecological crises, money still talks!

Ongoing streets protests in the Bulgarian capital city mobilised more that 100,000 people. They spoke out to protect Pirin National Park and Pirin Wilderness.

Pirin needs your help again. Please raise you voice here:

Email the Prime Minister or Tweet the Prime Minister

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About Author

Vlado Vancura is the Deputy Chairman and Director of wilderness of the European Wilderness Society and is based in Liptovsky Hradok, Slovakia.

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