State of Conservation (SOC)
Virgin Komi Forests
Factors affecting the property in 2013*
- Management systems/ management plan
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Changes to the boundaries of Yugyd Va National Park;
- Gold mining.
International Assistance granted to the property until 2013
Requests Approved: 0
Total Amount Ap proved: 0USD
Missions to the property until 2013**
|2010||Reactive Monitoring Mission to the Virgin Komi Forests, Russian Federation, 3 to 11 October 2010|
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2013
On 31 January 2013 the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, including on the following issues:
a) Halting gold mining in the property and reversing boundary changes made without approval by the Committee
The State Party report notes that gold mining works continue within the 19.9 km2 Chudnoe gold mining concession situated within the property, despite the Committee’s requests to halt mining (Decisions 35 COM 7B.25 and 36 COM 7B.24), and that a number of permits and plans have been issued in relation to the Gold Minerals mining license, which expires in 2029.
The State Party indicates that it considers that the 19.9 km2 Chudnoe gold mining concession is not included in the Yugyd Va National Park (YVNP), one of the two serial components of the property, and therefore does not provide a reply to the request of the Committee to reverse the 2010 boundary changes of YVNP which removed legal protection from four circular and rectilinear areas located well within the property, including the Chudnoé concession, a pre-existing pipeline and two pre-existing quarries.
The World Heritage Centre notes that maps submitted with the nomination clearly show that no areas inside the property have been excluded and hence that the location of the gold mine is well within the boundaries of the property as inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1995. This information is confirmed also by a letter of the Office of the General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation addressed to a Russian NGO, which confirms that the YVNP was included in the property as established in 1994, by Directive N377 of the Russian Federation adopted on 23.04.1994. The letter, a copy of which has been transmitted to the State Party by the World Heritage Centre, further notes that the Ministry of Natural Resources in 2010 adopted a new provision for the National Park, excluding the Chudnoe gold deposit, and concludes that by allowing this boundary modification, the Ministry has not respected its obligations under the Convention.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the State Party has not submitted any proposal for a significant boundary modification of the property and that the report does not provide any information on the development of such a proposal for boundary modification, although the State Party, at the 35th and 36th sessions, announced its intention to submit a proposal by 1 February 2013.
b) Protection status of the property, establishment of a buffer zone and inclusion of areas of biodiversity value.
The State Party also reports that the Russian Federation is actively researching options to include several areas of high biodiversity value within the property and to establish a buffer zone along its eastern boundary, in line with the recommendations of the 2010 World Heritage Centre/IUCN mission and the Committee’s requests (Decisions 35 COM 7B.25, 36 COM 7B.24). A letter has been issued to the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment of the Komi Republic to begin this work.
c) Other conservation issues
The State Party briefly reports on a number of other conservation issues, including tourism planning, fire management, staffing, monitoring and the status of Reindeer and Atlantic salmon and European grayling populations.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Center and the Advisory Bodies in 2013
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN reiterate their view that the now active gold mine, which is located within the property in a zone that has had its legal protection removed, is likely to have significant negative impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value of the Virgin Komi Forests, as documented in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 World Heritage Centre/IUCN state of conservation reports.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall that the World Heritage Committee has consistently expressed its serious and utmost concern about ongoing gold mining works located within the property (Decisions 33 COM 7B.31, 34 COM 7B.25, 35 COM 7B.25 and 36 COM 7B.24). The Committee has also considered that gold mining, as well as the unilateral boundary changes that have removed legal protection from several zones within the property (including the 19.9 km2 Chudnoé gold mining concession), constitute an ascertained danger to the property’s Outstanding Universal Value, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines (Decisions 35 COM 7B.25 and 36 COM 7B.24).
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN reiterate their recommendation that the Committee inscribe the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in application of the provisions in the Operational Guidelines. They recommend that the Committee reiterates its request to the State Party to halt gold mining within the property, revoke the mining license and reverse the unilateral boundary modifications.
Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2013
Draft Decision: 37 COM 7B.24
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/7B,
2. Recalling Decision 36 COM 7B.24, adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),
3. Expresses its utmost concern that the State Party has not halted the gold mining works within the property nor reversed the boundary changes which removed the legal protection of four areas within the property, including the 19.9 square km gold mining concession, and notes that maps submitted with the nomination clearly show that no areas inside the property have been excluded and hence, that these four areas are well within the boundaries of the property as inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1995;
4. Considers that these issues clearly constitute an ascertained danger to the property’s Outstanding Universal Value, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines;
5. Decides to inscribe the Virgin Komi Forests (Russian Federation) on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
6. Requests the State Party to implement the following corrective measures:
a) Immediately halt gold mining at Chudnoe within the property, including all preparatory activities, and revoke or freeze the exploration and exploitation licenses already granted,
b) Reverse the boundary changes made to Yugyd Va National Park;
7. Recalls that mining is incompatible with World Heritage status, which is supported by ICMM’s international position statement of not undertaking such activities within World Heritage properties, calls upon the mining companies concerned not to proceed with gold mining within the property, and the financial institutions supporting the mining operation to withdraw their financial support;
8. Also recalls that any proposed changes to the boundaries of a World Heritage property are subject to official procedures at least as rigorous as those involved in the nomination of the property, and should be considered through the procedure for major modifications of boundaries, as required under Paragraph 165 of the Operational Guidelines;
9. Also requests the State Party, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, to develop a Statement of Outstanding Universal Value and a proposal for a Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, for examination by the World Heritage Committee;
10. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and on the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014.
The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).