After a 3 years long court saga, the Bulgarian Supreme Administrative Court ruled against the plans to allow construction in 66% and logging in 48% of Pirin National Park. The case was led by WWF Bulgaria and the Bulgarian Law Association and won on the 29th of April.
Please also read: A second chance for Pirin Wilderness
This decision happened after a large public campaign against the management plan that was signed by the Ministry of the Environment. Thousands of people protested on the streets against the destruction of the park that this management plan would cause. In addition, 125 000 people signed a petition launched by WWF Bulgaria.
Pirin National Park is Bulgaria’s oldest National Park, situated in the high Rhodope mountains. It is also a World Heritage Site and is especially important area for birds. The European Wilderness Society has long been following the developments in Pirin that are unfortunately destroying its Wilderness potential. The development of new ski resorts is one of the main threats to the Park. Others include illegal logging, poaching and motor vehicle use.
Meeting the European environmental directives
The fact that the court ruled against the new management plan shows it does not meet the European environmental directives. In particular, it breaches the Habitats Directive and the need for strategic environmental assessment. Therefore, this decision is likely also going to have repercussions for the management plans of protected areas and other projects that fall under these two directives.
Wilderness in Bulgaria
While the oldest National Park has now successfully escaped construction and logging threats, there are many other protected areas in Bulgaria that are highly preserved. The over two-week visit of the country last October has enabled the European Wilderness Society to discover some new potential Wilderness. At the moment, there are 10 different recognised or potential Wilderness in Bulgaria. This makes it the country with the second largest Wilderness potential in Europe.