The Bulgaria Supreme Administrative Court suspended the execution of Pirin National Park’s new management plan, which would have allowed construction in 66 per cent and logging in 48 per cent of the national park and World Heritage Site.
The case was brought up by WWF-Bulgaria in 2016, concerned that those activities would have endangered different species that depend on the area’s old-growth forests.
In 2017, WWF-Bulgaria and the Association of Parks in Bulgaria (APB) filed a lawsuit against the Ministry of Environment and Water’s decision to not conduct a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the expansion plan. At the end of April 2020, the Bulgarian Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) definitively ruled that the new management plan’s omission of environmental and Natura 2000 impact assessments is illegal.
“The final decision of the Supreme Administrative Court marks a milestone for nature conservation and the rule of law in the country, not only because of the final outcome but also by setting new standards and a new court practice in the field, which will positively impact protected areas and Natura 2000 sites in the country in the future,” commented Vesselina Kavrakova, CEO of WWF-Bulgaria.
Pirin has exceptionally beautiful mountain scenery and glacial lakes and is an example of a healthy, functioning Balkan uplands ecosystem. The natural coniferous forests shelter a 1,300-year-old endemic Bosnian pine tree, believed to be the oldest one on the Balkan peninsula. Pirin is home to brown bears, grey wolves, chamois and 159 bird species among which is the Eurasian three-toed woodpecker, the rarest woodpecker in Europe.