'Save Pirin' vigil in front of the Ministry of Environment and Water

Feb. 18, 2013
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'Save Pirin' vigil in front of the Ministry of Environment and Water
Sofia, 18 February, 2013 - Coalition of NGOs and civic groups "For the Nature" support "Save Pirin" vigil, which will be held tonight at 18:30 in front of the Ministry of Environment and Water on 67 Gladstone Str. in Sofia.

Tomorrow, 19 February 2013, the Supreme Expert Environmental Council (SEEC) of the Ministry of Environment and Water will discuss whether to accept changes in the National Park Management Plan requested by the Mayor of Bansko Georgi Ikonomov, which will allow the construction of new ski lifts, slopes and even buildings and hotels on two-thirds of the entire territory of the National Park.

At the same time, alternative suggestions proposed by "For the Nature" were not accepted for discussion at the Council’s meeting by the Ministry of Environment and Water despite the fact that this is its obligation under the Administrative Procedure Code.

The current Pirin National Park Management Plan is active 10 years and expires in 2014.

A representative of the conservation coalition is allowed to attend the Council’s meeting tomorrow without the right to vote. Many organizations have already sent their opinion to the Council, stating why the proposed changes should not be approved. According to experts from environmental organizations, the changes in the Pirin National Park Management Plan would lead to the following:

• logging of old-growth forests of spruce and white fir
• destruction of the natural characteristics of the ecosystems
• destruction of the habitats of many rare and endangered species
• destruction of more shrub formations, which in addition to having a conservation significance, have a snow-retention and anti-erosion effect
• increased risk of landslides and floods, which we have already witnessed since Bansko ski zone was created
• destruction of the landscape, which was the reason why Pirin was included in the World Heritage List.

No matter what the SEEC decision is, it may be confirmed or rejected by the Environment Minister Nona Karadjova. If she decides to approve the changes in the Pirin National Park Management Plan proposed by Bansko Municipality, they must be confirmed by the Council of Ministers.

The invitation to the vigil in front of the Ministry of Environment this evening, which was published in the social networks, says: http://www.facebook.com/events/541396942558735/542370965794666/?notif_t=plan_mall_activity

“We want ULEN’s concession to be terminated because a law-breaking investor should be penalized!
We want the Pirin National Park Management Plan to remain unchanged until a new one is developed in 2014!

Plenty of irregularities have already been found in the construction and operation of the Bansko ski zone. Environment Minister Nona Karadjova admitted that the ski zone occupied an area two-thirds larger than the one allowed within the concession. Instead of being held accountable for their violations, the offenders are allowed to build new hotels, ski slopes and lifts in the heart of Pirin National Park.”