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UNESCO Excluding Bulgarian Ski Resorts from World Heritage

Date: 28.05.2006

In 2007 UNESCO will decide whether to exclude the Bansko and Dobrinishte ski resorts from the world nature heritage.

Non-governmental organisations were worried the construction of new ski tracks in Pirin Park had violated the Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage. The ecological organisation Save Pirin said that the exclusion of the resorts might be expected even in July 2006 during the next UNESCO session.

After its inspections in 2001 and 2004, UNESCO proposed reviewing the borders of the protected Pirin Park. The organisation proposed actualisation of the borders because the park has increased in area since its creation in 1983. From 27 000 hectares the park expanded to 40 000 hectares.

The Environment and Water Affairs Ministry suggested that the Bansko and Dobrinishte resorts should be separated as buffer zones. The 1 000 hectares of the resorts will still be protected by the same regulations valid for the Pirin Park.

Toma Belev from the Green Balkans organisation said that if the resorts were excluded from the protected park area, the environmental problems in the region might worsen. The main cause for concern is the soil erosion that the ski tracks caused.

The Environment and Water Affairs Ministry said that even if the changes were imposed, it would maintain the control over the illegal construction in the region.

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