This is one of the most outstanding volcanic regions in the world, with a high density of active volcanoes, a variety of types, and a wide range of related features. The six sites included in the serial designation group together the majority of volcanic features of the Kamchatka peninsula. The interplay of active volcanoes and glaciers forms a dynamic landscape of great beauty. The sites contain great species diversity, including the world's largest known variety of salmonoid fish and exceptional concentrations of sea otter, brown bear and Stellar's sea eagle.
Justification for Inscription
The Committee inscribed the Volcanoes of Kamchatka as one of the most outstanding examples of the volcanic regions in the world on the basis of natural criteria (vii), (viii) and (ix). The site contains a high density of active volcanoes, a variety of different types and a wide range of volcanic features. The Peninsula location between a large continental landmass and the Pacific Ocean also exhibits unique characteristics with major concentrations of wildlife.
Criterion (viii): The addition of Kluchevskoy Nature Park as the sixth component of the site further adds to the overall coverage of the range of Kamchatka's natural features. The addition to the site clearly meets criterion (viii) in its own right as an outstanding example of geological processes and landforms and therefore contributes in a very significant way to the expanded site as a whole meeting criterion (viii).
Criterion (ix) : The expanded site is also biologically analogous to six islands and its geographic location between a large continental landmass and the Pacific Ocean has given it unique characteristics. Natural processes continue with on-going volcanic activity and colonisation. Kluchevskoy Nature Park contributes significantly to the expanded site as a whole meeting criterion (ix).
Criterion (vii): The Kamchatka Volcanoes is a landscape of exceptional natural beauty with its large symmetrical volcanoes, lakes, wild rivers and spectacular coastline. It also contains superlative natural phenomena in the form of salmon spawning areas and major concentrations of wildlife (e.g. seabird colonies) along the coastal zone of the Bering Sea. Kluchevskoy Nature Park contributes very significantly to the site as a whole meeting criterion (vii).
Criterion (x): The Kamchatka Volcanoes contain an especially diverse range of palearctic flora (including a number of nationally threatened species and at least 16 endemics), and bird species such as the Stellar’s Sea Eagle (50% of world population), white tailed eagle, gyr falcon and peregrine falcon, which are attracted to the availability of spawning salmon. The rivers inside and adjacent to the site contain the world’s greatest known diversity of salmonid fish. All 11 species coexist in several of Kamchatka’s rivers.
The site comprises six distinct locations on the Kamchatka Peninsula, in the Russian Far East, in the central mountainous spine of the peninsula (Bystrinsky Nature Park), and coastal locations facing east towards the Bering Sea (Koronotsky Zapovednik, Nalychevo Nature Park and the contiguous Southern Kamchatka Nature Park and Southern Kamchatka State Nature Reserve). Kluchevskoy Nature Park was added in 2001 as the sixth component of the site.
The property represents the most pristine parts of the Kamchatka Peninsula and a remarkable collection of volcanic areas, characteristic of the 'Pacific Volcanic Ring'. This is the surface expression of the subduction of the Pacific Ocean Continental Plate under the Eurasia Plate at rates of 10 cm annually. The addition of Kluchevskoy Nature Park, an outstanding example of geological processes and landforms, further adds to the range of natural features.
More than 300 volcanoes are found in Kamchatka, 29 being currently active, including caldera, strata-volcano, somma-volcano and mixed types, the largest included in the World Heritage site being Kronotskaya Sopka (3,528 m). In addition there is a multitude of thermal and mineral springs, geysers and other phenomena of active vulcanism.
Surrounded by sea, the peninsula enjoys a moist and relatively mild climate leading to a lush vegetation cover. With only modest history of human exploitation, the vegetation is in largely pristine condition, and includes mountain valley taiga forest of birch, larch and spruce; extensive stone-birch forest; riparian forest on alluvial soil of poplars, aspen, alder and willow; peat wetland and extensive coastal wetlands up to 50 km wide; and subalpine shrub and mountain tundra. The region also contains an especially diverse range of Palaearctic flora (including a number of nationally threatened species and at least 16 endemics.
The faunal complement is relatively low in diversity, with the Kamchatka Peninsula exhibiting some of the biogeographic qualities of an island. Nevertheless, a number of species are abundant, including bears, snow ram, northern deer, sable and wolverine, and there is a high level of endemism.
Noteworthy birds include Stellar's sea eagle (50% of world population), white-tailed eagle, golden eagle, gyrfalcon and peregrine falcon. There are numerous seabird colonies and 50% of the global population of Aleutian tern nest on the peninsula. Almost all rivers, noted for being exceptionally unpolluted, serve as salmon spawning grounds, a key food-chain species for predatory birds and mammals. All 11 species of salmonid fish coexist in several of Kamchatka's rivers. Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC