A campaigning environmental charity set up by Leonardo DiCaprio is believed to have donated funds to a group battling plans to expand Bansko ski area further into Bulgaria’s Pirin National Park.
Bansko’s ski activities in the national park land have been the subject of disagreement with environmental groups for nearly two decades. Originally campaigners claimed Bansko had already built lifts and runs illegally on the national park land, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This led to legal cases right up to EU level, and successive Bulgarian governments took differing positions, with some arguing that the employment created justified any transgressions, while others said that protecting the national park from development was all important. One even went so far as retrospectively declaring that the national park land where Bansko built lifts and cut runs was no longer part of the park.
The latest developments, which are being fought by the WWF, appear to see Bansko planning to add more lifts and runs further into the park, creating one of the world’s biggest ski areas.
Leonardo DiCaprio established the DiCaprio Foundation aged 23 with the stated aim “to protect the world’s last wild places.” It is not clear exactly what relationship the foundation has with environmental campaigners in Bulgaria, but it recently tweeted: “Join us and @World_Wildlife to help save the centuries-old forests of Bulgaria’s Pirin National Park from ski zone expansion and logging.”
The WWF is calling for “strong action” from Bulgaria’s current Prime Minister, Boyko Borissov, against the ski zone expansion.