Location and Values: The Pirin National Park is located in the mountains of southwest Bulgaria. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty with high mountain peaks and rocky crags contrasting with alpine meadows, rushing rivers and spectacular waterfalls. It exhibits a complex geomorphology developed from a variety of different underlying rock types, moulded and shaped by past glacial activity. The glacial features include cirques, deep U-shaped valleys and more than 70 glacial lakes. The ecological processes that have given rise to Pirin’s present-day flora and fauna are ongoing, and evolution of the area’s flora, for example – which today includes 1,315 species of vascular plants, with 86 species endemic to the Balkan region – is expected to continue in the diverse protected environment provided by the site.
Conservation Status and Prospects. According to IUCN’s Conservation Outlook Assessment (2017) the conservation status of Pirin National Park is of ‘significant concern’. The IUCN report notes that tourism infrastructure (primarily for skiing and winter sports) has fragmented the natural habitat and ecological connectivity of the site, and expresses concern that climate change may further exacerbate this problem as new facilities might be extended deeper into the mountains to take advantage of the shifting ‘snow frontier’. Climate change is also expected to have some impact on species distributions and the functioning of ecosystems. On a more positive note, the park management authority is considered to be quite effective in carrying out routine management operations, despite a shortage of funds and other resources.
UNESCO Official Website
IUCN Conservation Outlook
UNEP-WCMC Site Description