Bulgaria is calling on its allies on the Unesco heritage committee to review its June 28 decision on the Pirin National Park.

Australia intervened at the June 28 annual meeting of the Unesco’s World Heritage Committee in Bahrein to stop some Bulgarian amendments to the Committee’s decision on the Pirin National Park, a Unesco heritage site.

The changes to the Pirin park management plan, introduced by Bulgaria last year had angered environmentalists and civil activists who said they would permit further damaging construction in the park.

The Unesco decision on the national park incorporated only some of the changes Bulgaria sought.

As reported by Balkan Insight online, Australia said a strategic environmental assessment had to be undertaken for the spatial planning for the current management plan – which the Bulgarian government changed in December 2017 – and said this should include a specific assessment of the plan’s potential impact on the environment.

The World Heritage Committee consists of representatives from states that are parties to the 1972 World Heritage Convention. At its annual session, it reviews the state of conservation of World Heritage sites and inscribes new sites on the World Heritage List.

Ahead of the annual meeting, Bulgaria lobbied for the support of 11 countries for its amendments to the Unesco decision – Azerbaijan, Cuba, Burkina-Faso, Bosnia, Zimbabwe, China, Tanzania, Brazil, Tunis, Kuwait and Angola.

According to the Balkan Insight report, Bulgaria’s amendments diluted the proposed text by deleting all mention of a Supreme Administrative Court ruling, rejecting the Bulgarian Environment Ministry’s decision not to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment for the new park management plan.

They also removed the Committee’s own expression of concern about the changes to the current management plan that Bulgaria made in December 2017.

The Committee had called for those changes not to be implemented until the courts decided on a new draft management plan – still pending – engaging NGOs and other stakeholders in its drafting and implementation, and which had undergone a strategic environmental assessment.

The Unesco committee, however, agreed to the Australian additions to the text without any objections and passed the draft decision.