Apriltsi and Central Balkan National Park – Bulgaria

Vision & objectives

The overall long-term vision for Central Balkan National Park is development according to international standards (such as EMAS). The objectives include strengthening the PAN Parks network, expanding the cluster to include all of the park’s municipalities and the entire local Pan Parks network, and implementation of environmental management with EMAS.


SMEs have to pay their verification and registration fees

April 2010 – May 2011


Key stakeholder : The Central Balkan National Park

Stakeholders : There are several important stakeholders in the region:

  • Municipality of Apriltsi (supported, but not part of the cluster)
  • Regional Association of Municipalities (members are all 9 municipalities around the park)
  • PAN Parks – a European-wide organization focusing on an integrated approach combining wilderness protection and sustainable tourism development
  • Regional Tourist Association, members of which are the local chamber of commerce and hotels

The coach

Time Foundation

In the MOVE-IT project, Time Foundation was responsible for the coaching of 2 clusters in Bulgarian, adapting the cluster toolkit to Bulgarian and the organisation of trainings for tourism agents in Bulgaria.

Labels ands brands in the region

PAN Parks

PAN Parks – a European-wide network of well managed protected areas focusing on an integrated approach combining wilderness protection and sustainable tourism development. The system...


The European EMAS Regulation specifies the requirements to comply with when setting up an Environmental Management System (EMS). It is a voluntary scheme. EMAS goes beyond...

Green Lodge

Green Lodge® is a certificate issued to guesthouses and small hotels that correspond to ECEAT sustainable tourism label and Eurogites quality strandards. Hosts of these...

The region


The region near the town of Apriltsi is situated on the northern slopes of the Balkan Mountains in central Bulgaria.

Cluster members are from the town of Apriltsi, nearby village Skandalo, and Central Balkan National Park (spanning over 9 municipalities), towering above them all. The region is mountainous, with very clean air, lack of polluting industry, and a general sense of sustainable tourism.

The region is known for lots of archaeological evidence from presence of Romans and Thracians and is a key area for the Bulgarian resistance and uprising against Turkish empire.


Pan Parks‘ aim is protect Europe’s wilderness by creating a network of large well-managed areas with a special wilderness area that would provide a unique experience for visitors, and benefits for local communities. These certified parks all include a significant wilderness area in their core. PAN Parks provides effective third-party certification system under WCPA (World Commission on Protected Areas) Framework for Management Effectiveness. PAN Parks sets an important benchmark for high standards in protected area management.

The certification is based on verification carried out by independent experts, in accord with PAN Parks quality standards. There are five PAN Parks principles, covering relevant wilderness protection, social, economic and cultural aspects. These ensure high standards of management for both conservation and sustainable development and the existence of a wilderness area without human intervention. Principles allow for objective verification and transparency. The verification procedure includes three elements: verification of the protected area, its Sustainable Tourism Strategy and the local business partners.

„A view towards our common future - Central Balkan National Park’s 50-year vision was elaborated in November 2010, via a collaborative manner by a Public Consultative council (working with the park’s directorate). Common objectives and implementing internationally renowned standards (such as EMAS) are integrated in the strategy.

Latest news of the cluster

Boundaries and Certifications

SMEs implement an environmental management system according to EMAS. If price is not right, only those willing to pay are going to obtain certification. The rest will share common objectives and implement informal environmental management systems, without certification.