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Committee Decisions

36 COM 8B.11

Natural Properties - Lena Pillars Nature Park (Russian Federation)

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Documents WHC-12/36.COM/8B and WHC-12/36.COM/INF.8B2,

2.   Inscribes the Lena Pillars Nature Park, Russian Federation, on the World Heritage List, on the basis of criterion (viii);

3.   Adopts the following provisional Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

Brief synthesis

The property of the Lena Pillars Nature Park describes key stories about our planet and the early evolution of life, namely a record of the Cambrian Explosion and the story of the emergence of the frozen ground karst phenomenon.

The property is an outstanding natural property providing an unmatched synthe­sis of Cambrian geological and paleontological data, which serves as the basis for our understanding of the distant past, the evolution of the Earth and of life on our planet during one of the most pivotal and dramatic points of its development.

The property includes valuable geological sites (lower to middle Cambrian strata), paleontological sites (exceptional, rich fossils and biocenoses, including the earliest metazoan reef belt) and unique geomorphological sites (frozen ground karst, thermokarst and sand dunes-tukulans).

Criterion (viii): The property represents the most significant natural monument of the Cambrian Explosion, which was one of the pivotal points in the evolution of life on Earth. Due to the platformal carbonate sedimentation which occurred in the tropical belt without subsequent metamorphic and tectonic transformation, the property preserves the most continuous, fully documented, and richest record of the diversification of skeletal animals and calcified algae from their first appearances until the first mass extinction event. This is documented in parallel by three types of sedimentary basins during the first 35 million years of the Cambrian evolution.

The property comprises the earliest, and the temporally and spatially largest, fossil metazoan reef of the Cambrian world. This reef, being a site of Cambrian diversification, is comparable to the Great Barrier Reef today. The high preservation quality of both skeletal and soft-bodied fossils being coupled with high resolution isotope and palaeomagnetic records, as well as with various well-preserved sedimentary fabrics allows researchers to better understand ecological and evolutionary problems with accuracy comparable to the study of today’s biotas and communities.

The Cambrian carbonates situated within the property are a place of unique ongoing geological processes and the only model of recent frozen ground karst of karst plateaus. The entire rock massif is affected by karst processes of perennially cryotic rocks under extremely continental semi-humid climate conditions. The Lena and Buotama pillars are the only area on the globe where the processes of the fine disintegration of the rocks – cryohydration weathering – dominate the shaping of the relief of carbonate pillars. These karst phenomena are enriched by thermokarst processes developed in the area of a great permafrost thickness (up to 600 m) which led to appearances of alases, a thermokarst feature almost only found in Yakutia. The frozen ground karst in combination with thermokarst is a worldwide unique phenomenon of Eastern Siberia and is outstandingly documented in the property. It is quite different from other karst properties in the World Heritage List, which are located in humid areas. In turn, the semi-humid continental climate conditions are expressed in a formation of tukulans which are eolian sand dunes being developed at almost polar latitudes.

Integrity

Lena Pillars Nature Park presents a single natural site and its main components are inseparably tied with each other by a common origin, history and the dynamics of natural development, and includes all the elements necessary to express its outstanding universal value.

By its size (1,272,150 ha) the property is large enough to support its geological and ecological processes and to ensure the complete representation of the features and processes which convey its significance. In addition local and Republican Resource Preserves adjacent to the Park’s boundaries give additional integrity guarantees for the property.

The property presents an integral system. Natural ecosystems, numerous nature monuments, and also evidence of human activity from ancient times has been sustainably preserved with its boundaries over a long period of time.

The biophysical processes and landform features of the property are intact.

The property includes all the elements essential for maintaining its features. Firstly, a great variety of skerries relief forms: fancy pillars, spires, towers, columns, intertwined with grottos, passages, and caves, stretching along the riverbanks of the Lena and Buotama for dozens of kilometers. The area of the “Lena Pillars Nature Park” has gone through a long and complex period of geological development since Early Cambrian. The property reflects both significant geological processes of surface development and outstanding geomorphological relief features. All significant relief forms of the property are interrelated and interdependent elements in their natural relationships.

Protection and management requirements

The whole property is managed by the Park administration and the staff on the basis of laws and decrees of the Governments of the Russian Federation and of the Republic of Sakha.

Traditional nature management and licensed use of biological resources by local residents from eight communities of small nationalities of the North inhabiting the Park territory (and absolute absence of permanent settlements) present the main condition for conservation of the nature monuments and biological diversity of ecosystems of the property.

In 2011 the management plan for 2012-2016 was drawn up elaborated in conformity with the Order of the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resource Usage of the Russian Federation №491 of 03.12. 2007.

4.  Requests the State Party to:

a)   Consider including the Sinyaya component of Lena Pillars Nature Park, and relevant areas of the Lena River that are necessary to strengthen the integrity within the property,

b)   Provide a clear demonstration that the legal regime supporting the property is effective,

c)   Provide a revised long-term management plan for the property which includes a strong programme of awareness devoted to the, geomorphological and geological features, and ensures the necessary scientific skills required to protect and manage these values are in place;

5.   Expresses its appreciation to the State Party, the State Government of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia), and stakeholders, regarding the work that has been done to research, present and protect the values within the Lena Pillars region;

6.   Welcomes the collaborative efforts of the State Party, stakeholders and IUCN during the evaluation of this nomination, and requests that lessons learned during this process are appropriately considered in the reflection on the Future of the Convention;

7.   Further requests the State Party to provide a report to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2015 on the progress in implementing the above recommendations for consideration by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015.

Themes: Inscriptions on the World Heritage List, Outstanding Universal Value
States Parties: Russian Federation
Session: 36COM