Pirin National Park illegal ski resort, Bulgaria

<div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Description</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld"></td><td class="columns"><div class="less">Since 1983 Pirin National Park (NP) is a mountain territory under the highest nature protection standards according to Bulgarian law. The NP is rich in unique natural resources including 120-year-old pine woods. Since 2000 a local development plan (DP) for the town of Bankso - a gateway to the Pirin NP includes huge expansion of the existing ski zone (ski runs and infrastructure). </div><a class="seemore" href="#">See more...</a><div class="more" style="display:none"> In 2001, after a positive EIA decision by the Environment Ministry. a concession contract for the enlargement of the ski zone is signed with Ulen AD guaranteeing the right to develop and use a ski zone on 99,5 ha exclusively public land within Pirin National Park. <br/><br/> Since the establishment of the Bansko Ski Zone 2001, nature conservationists have been trying to draw the attention of four consecutive governments to the issues with the management of Pirin National Park, as well as the numerous law infringements in relation to the development of the ski zone which are gradually leading to the destruction of the Park. It has become clear that many of the ski runs are wider than originally permitted, that the number and capacity of lifts is constantly increasing. <br/><br/> In 2004 the Government approved a Pirin National Park Development Plan (NPDP), which is required for each protected territory. The plans have a lifetime of 10 years. The Pirin NPDP states that the Bansko Ski Zone cannot be expanded more than the territory stated in the 2001 concession contract. As this relates to a territory which is publically owned and under exclusive protection, the NPDP is de facto the law in Pirin. <br/><br/> In 2005 the Municipality of Bansko approved a plan change of the Bansko DP, which was not in accordance with the Pirin NPDP and is therefore unlawful. Despite this, the plan change was passed by the RIEW Blagoevgrad Director. This is how with the blessing of the local municipal and government bodies, Ulen AD builds new runs and infrastructure thus infringing the Ministry approved documents the Parks DP and the concession contract. <br/><br/> In 2007 Bulgaria joined the EU. Pirin National Park became part of Natura 2000 Europes ecological network. <br/><br/> In 2009 a satellite image analysis indicates that twice as much forest has been cleared for the development of the Bansko Ski Zone and that the ski zone area itself is twice as large as that approved under the concession contract. The NGO and citizens coalition For the Nature sends a request to the MfEW for an official inquiry into this. <br/><br/> Almost two years later, after a number of letters with questions from citizens and following a government committee meeting, the Minister for Ecology Nona Karadjova admits publically that Ulen AD is using (i.e. has cleared and taken away from protected territories) some 65 ha additional land than what was allowed under the concession for the Bansko Ski Zone. This means that some 40% of the Bansko Ski Zone are practically unlawful. <br/><br/> According to Nona Karadjova, Ulen AD has permission for all lifts and installations, thus the state plans to change the Concessions Act, in order to be able to accommodate the additional 65 ha. These ministerial statements are refuted in a legal appraisal of all lifts and installations within Bansko Ski zone. <br/><br/> A coalition of environmental NGOs For the Nature expressed strong disagreement with the Governments idea of legalising the unlawful areas of the Bansko Ski Zone. Such a Government decision aids the destruction of Bulgarias protected territories and demonstrates that some people are always above the law irrespective of who is in power. The coalition For the Nature points out to the Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and the Environment and Water Minister Nona Karadjova that all Bansko Ski Zone runs and infrastructure within Pirin National Park, which have been built outside the territory approved under the Ulen AD concession, are practically state property. <br/><br/> As a protected territory of such standing, Pirin National Park is exclusively state property, i.e. according to the Constitution, all land and forests in it are property of the Bulgarian people. <br/><br/> The Pirin National Park concession contract allows Ulen AD as a concessioner to use state property (land, forests and infrastructure) in exchange for a fee for a given period of time. <br/><br/> All ski runs and lifts which have been built outside the concession area, even if they are subject to ecological assessments and building permits, are practically built on state land, without the concessioner having a right to do so. Under property law, where there is no building permission or concession, all buildings and infrastructure automatically become the property of the landowner the state. Since 2001 Ulen AD has been using 65 ha of state land, forests and infrastructure outside the concession area illegally and should therefore pay due compensation into the state budget. <br/><br/><a class="seeless" href="#">(See less)</a></div></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Basic Data</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Name</td><td>Pirin National Park illegal ski resort, Bulgaria</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Country</td><td><a href="/country/bulgaria">Bulgaria</a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Province</td><td>Bulgaria</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Site</td><td>Bansko</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Accuracy of Location</td><td>MEDIUM regional level</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Source of Conflict</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (1st level)</td><td>Tourism Recreation</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (2nd level)</td><td>Agro-toxics<br /> REDD/CDM<br /> Establishment of reserves/national parks<br /> Logging and non timber extraction<br /> Climate change related conflicts (glaciers and small islands)<br /> Tourism facilities (ski resorts, hotels, marinas)<br /> Chemical industries</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Specific Commodities</td><td><a href='/commodity/pine'>Pine</a><br /><a href='/commodity/tourism-services'>Tourism services</a><br /><a href='/commodity/land'>Land</a><br /><a href='/commodity/biological-resources'>Biological resources</a><br /><a href='/commodity/coal'>Coal</a><br /></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Project Details and Actors</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Area (in hectares)</td><td>165</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Population</td><td>Urban</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Start Date</td><td>2001</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Company Names or State Enterprises</td><td><a href='/company/ulen-ad'>ULEN AD</a> from <a href='/country-of-company/bulgaria'><small>Bulgaria</small></a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Relevant government actors</td><td>Ministery of Environment, Pirin National Park, Municipality of Bansko</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">International and Financial Institutions</td><td><a href='/institution/european-union'>European Union <small>(EU)</small></a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Environmental justice organisations and other supporters</td><td>For the Nature NGOs coalition</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">The Conflict and the Mobilization</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)</td><td>MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">When did the mobilization begin</td><td>PREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Groups Mobilizing</td><td>International ejos<br /> Local ejos<br /> Social movements</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Forms of Mobilization</td><td>Development of a network/collective action<br /> Involvement of national and international NGOs<br /> Media based activism/alternative media<br /> Objections to the EIA<br /> Public campaigns</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Impacts</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Environmental Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Socio-economic Impacts</td><td><strong>Potential: </strong>Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of landscape/sense of place</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Outcome</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Status</td><td>In operation</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Pathways for conflict outcome / response</td><td>Corruption<br /> Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area<br /> Negotiated alternative solution<br /> Application of existing regulations<br /> New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Development of Alternatives</td><td>For the Nature calls for the Prime Minister Boyko Borissov to stop all building activity within protected territories, to terminate the concession contract with Ulen AD, to take possession of the illegally developed land, and also to seek compensation for the illegal use of territories as well as to recultivate the illegally developed Pirin National Park territories, which are part of the Natura 2000 ecological network and UNESCOs world heritage.</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Do you consider this as a success?</td><td>No</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Why? Explain briefly.</td><td>Despite the government admitted that UlenAD had unlawfully grabbed, used and destroyed state property in a National Park, there is no plan to start legal action against the company. Moreover the Government is proposing to change the concession law in order to solve the problem, and for not causing trouble to the investor.</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Sources and Materials</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Legislations</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Pirin National Park Management Plan (NPDP)<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://bbf.biodiversity.bg/files/doc/pr_en_mplan_np.pdf" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Council Directive 92/43/EEC, establishing the Natura2000 Network<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31992L0043:EN:NOT" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Za Zemiata<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://zazemiata.org/v1/Nachalo.1.0.html" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Meta Information</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Contributor</td><td>Dragomira Raeva</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Last update</td><td>08/04/2014</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div>