The European Greens are backing Bulgarians who have taken to the streets to protest against their government’s decision to expand the Bansko ski resort. Co-chairs Monica Frassoni and Reinhard Bütikofer said the expansion will have a massive impact on the nature and biodiversity found within the Pirin National Park.

“Due to the devastation that construction and logging would have, we stand with the thousands of people across the country who have taken to the streets to protest,” they said in a statement.

“The park is a Unesco world heritage site of outstanding universal value and is protected by the EU’s birds and habitats directive through the Natura 2000 network, offering a haven to Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats.”

The site has long been subject to tourism pressure, largely caused by the development of ski facilities.

According to the Greens, this development is often a consequence of a breach in the rule of law in Bulgaria, which has fuelled nepotism and corruption.

“The European Greens aim to develop a circumspect approach to tourism policy: boosting Europe’s standing as a leading destination while at the same time protecting the nature that attracts visitors in the first place. We advocated for a change in policies, business practices and consumer behaviour towards a more ecological and sustainable tourism sector.”