The World Heritage Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006) noted with great concern that the reports provided by the State Party had not responded to the requests made by the Committee at its 28th and 29th sessions. The state of conservation report provided by the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS recommended the Committee to inscribe the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, and also informed the Committee that the State Party was against this recommendation. Nevertheless, the Committee followed the request of the State Party and requested a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission to assess the state of conservation and the factors affecting the outstanding universal value of the property.
As requested by the Committee, the State Party submitted to the World Heritage Centre on 30 January 2007 two very informative and comprehensive reports whose details well respond to many of the requests made by the Committee over the last several years, including the management issues and the updated information on the restoration concept for the Church of the Transfiguration.
The joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission to Kizhi Pogost was invited by the National Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO in compliance with decision 30 COM 7B.72. The mission concluded its technical review of the situation based on on-site visits, extensive documentation and working meetings with relevant stakeholders.
The mission noted that significant progress had been achieved in implementing some of the decisions by the Committee, in particular the status of the preparation of the overall restoration concept for the Church of Transfiguration, which should address any impact of proposed interventions on the authenticity and integrity of the property as well as the implementation of risk preparedness measures.
In order to preserve the outstanding universal value of this property it is essential that the restoration works start immediately or at the latest by September 2007. Clearly delegated authorities and a multi-year detailed financial plan, which were identified as obstacles to the beginning of the restoration works, need to be established.
The mission also noted significant progress in the management of the Kizhi Museum Reserve. However, a number of measures based on the recommendations made by the 2002 Workshop still needs to be fully implemented. A comprehensive management plan for the World Heritage property, which should addresses tourism development, as well as clear boundary and buffer zone definition, has not yet been developed and implemented. The steps to be taken to define the core and buffer zones of the World Heritage property of the Kizhi Pogost are not clearly understood by the national and local authorities. All existing documentation concerning the site management has been established and approved for the Kizhi Museum Reserve only without reference to the outstanding universal value of the World Heritage property of Kizhi Pogost. In order to prepare the Management Plan for Kizhi Pogost, the local authorities should consider requesting international assistance and bilateral cooperation through the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
The mission report is available at http://whc.unesco.org/archive/2007.
The key recommendations of the mission are as follows:
a) Structural integrity of the Church of the Transfiguration:
The most critical issue at Kizhi Pogost World Heritage property is the seriously threatened state of conservation of the Church of the Transfiguration. The mission considered paragraphs 177-191 of the Operational Guidelines and concluded that if the current loss of fabric and design features is not halted immediately, the outstanding universal value of the property will be in danger. However, due to the significant preparatory effort and progress which has been made in recent years, this mission considers that World Heritage in Danger status for Kizhi Pogost World Heritage property due to the condition of the Church of the Transfiguration would be not appropriate at this time. The mission recommended the Kizhi Pogost not to be placed on the World Heritage List in Danger at this stage. The project technical preparatory work is well advanced and of high quality. In order for this effort to be recognized and the outstanding universal value of the Church be protected, it is essential that the implementation of the restoration works begin immediately, and authority delegated and funding be made available by September 2007.
The State Party should be requested to start with the repair and restoration works of the Church of Transfiguration and to submit to the World Heritage Centre by September 2007 all relevant documentation illustrating the availability of the necessary funding over the duration of the project and management tools to insure the full implementation of the restoration works.
b) Restoration project of the Church of the Transfiguration:
The State Party should be urged to use supplementary structural support only if absolutely necessary, and to reinforce structural elements as needed rather than install general strengthening. This recommendation is consistent with previous missions and recommendations made by ICOMOS/Russian experts over the past 15 years. There is a need for an on-site decision-making process to allow the project to respond to detailed site conditions. Direct contact should be established between the Kizhi Museum project team and ICOMOS experts on an ongoing basis. This was recommended at the 2002 workshop but was not followed-up on. The mission considered that three further follow-up monitoring missions may be required over the restoration work period. Despite its technical excellence, the project is strongly oriented to a series of technical solutions but without any demonstrated link to the World Heritage status and the outstanding universal value of this property. In addition, the mission noted that the intended “patch and glue” approach for log repair does not meet international standards, and that this approach will have a much reduced durability due to anticipated early joint failure. The State Party should be advised that glued wood patches should only be used in places where future repair can be made without dismantling, and that whole log replacement should be used instead of extensive patches to be consistent with repair traditions for log buildings, to extend durability and ensure long term structural performance. The State Party should be urged to avoid the use of wood preservatives due to their environmental impact and limited effectiveness.
c) Integrated management plan and boundary issues:
The mission noted that references of the World Heritage status, as well as the outstanding universal values of this property are missing from all documentation, in particular, concerning the management of the Kizhi Museum Reserve. The recently elaborated Master Plan for the Kizhi Museum Reserve including protected areas and buffer zone of this Reserve does not indicate the boundaries of the World Heritage property and its buffer zone. The mission noted the growing use of the site for religious purposes: The Church of the Intercession is again an active church and religious services were revived in 1994. The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia His Holiness Alexis II visited Kizhi Island in 2000, and since 2003, Kizhi parish has been under the direct control of the Patriarch.
The mission also noted that probably the different interpretation by the national authorities of the decisions of the World Heritage Committee (which requested to provide not only management of conservation works of the Church of the Transfiguration but a detailed overall management plan for this World Heritage property) led to an important misunderstanding between stakeholders. ICOMOS and the World Heritage Centre believe it is important that, before the work further progresses further that the State Party should provide a Statement of Outstanding Universal Value, and commit itself to use this Statement as a basis for developing an Integrated Management Plan for the site. The State Party should also be requested to revise and approve all documents concerning protected areas of the Kizhi Museum Reserve including the boundaries of the World Heritage property of Kizhi Pogost and its buffer zone by 1 February 2008. The State Party should be requested to prepare and implement an integrated management plan to co-ordinate the activities of the many different stakeholders and agencies involved with overall management of the World Heritage property. This plan should include, in particular, following issues:
(i) recognition of World Heritage outstanding universal value as the core focus of all decision making for the site;
(ii) emergence of new partners such as the Patriarchate whose full integration in decision making is critical; no official existing documents mention its involvement in management process;
(iii) reference to the philosophical and not only technical (for example in relation to physical monitoring and fire protection) context in which decision making is made;
(iv) the need to manage dramatically increasing tourism to the site in the context of maintaining its outstanding universal value;
(v) overall enabling strategy related to risk preparedness and security;
(vi) environmental issues, taking into account the World Heritage Committee recommendation (14th session in 1990) to maintain the present balance between the natural and built environment.
d) Risk preparedness (fire prevention, detection, alarm and suppression; intrusion; lightning; visitor safety):
The mission did not receive a risk plan for review, however, the site manager has taken a comprehensive approach to management of risks. In general, the risk awareness is very strong and the response to it has been very good on most points. New sophisticated equipment has been installed for interior and exterior fire and intrusion detection and for exterior fire extinguishing. The States Party should be requested to take into account the recommendations of the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission concerning some additional issues on risk preparedness.
e) Capacity building:
The mission observed the urgent need to prepare a capacity building strategy with regular training courses involving those responsible for restoration and management activities in the Kizhi Museum Reserve.