State of Conservation (SOC)
Volcanoes of Kamchatka
Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee
The Bureau may recall that IUCN presented a report to the last session of the World Heritage Committee (Naples, 1997) reviewing a proposed mining project, whose location was determined to be about 5 km outside of the Bystrinsky portion of the World Heritage area. The location of the mine did not pose a major environmental or aesthetic problem but would disrupt migratory wildlife that inhabit the region and impact fisheries resources. While the question of whether or not mining and conservation can co-exist in the area is yet to be answered, the organisation financing the mining company has placed the maintenance of the integrity of the World Heritage site as one of the conditions for the granting of the loan for the mining operations to commence. The setting up of an International Review Panel to monitor the environmental impacts of the proposed mining project has been proposed. IUCN has been in contact with proponents of the mine and has had a request from Canada regarding financial service support that could be provided by the Export Development Corporation (EDC). In this request it is noted that "as a critical first step in their due diligence, and in determining whether such support would be available for the project, EDC wants to be assured that it would not be contravening article 6, paragraph 3 of the World Heritage Convention."
IUCN recommends that the Bureau follows the precautionary principle based on the potential risk that the proposed Aginskoe mine will pose to the integrity of the site. The Bureau should express its concern to the Canadian and Russian Governments and the Regional Administration of Kamchatka over the potential consequences of the proposed mine. This IUCN recommendation is based on (1) broader policy issues relating to export credit agencies and on (2) findings of IUCN’s site mission undertaken in September 1997. IUCN recommends that the Bureau send a strong message on its concerns over this proposed mine; as eight other natural World Heritage sites are threatened by mining proposals, a strong statement of concern will establish an important precedent with regard to the policy of the Bureau and the Committee in addressing threats posed by mining projects to the integrity of World Heritage sites.
As requested by the Committee at its last session, the Centre had requested State Party to provide detailed information on the proposed mining project, particularly on EIAs carried out and other pertinent information. A letter from the Deputy Minister for Natural Resources of the Russian Federation has been received by the Centre on 22 April 1998. However, the letter is in Russian and the Centre has contacted the Russian Delegation to UNESCO to obtain an official translation.
The Bureau, after reviewing the official translation of the letter from the State Party, may wish to register its serious concerns concerning the potential impacts of the Aginskoe mining project with the Russian and the Canadian Governments and with the Regional Government in Kamchatka and propose other appropriate actions to the consideration of relevant authorities concerned as well as to the Centre and IUCN.
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds
International Assistance granted to the property
Requests Approved: 0
Total Amount Ap proved: 0USD
1997: UICN mission
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
Current conservation issues
At its twenty-second session, the Bureau recalled that a proposed mining project, located at about 5 km outside of the Bystrinsky portion of this site, if executed would disrupt migratory wildlife in the region and impact fisheries resources. The Bureau was informed of communications the Deputy Minister of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation and the Governor of the Province of Kamchatka reiterating their commitment to the site’s protection. The Governor of Kamchatka supported the controlled development of the Aginskoe gold deposit and pointed out that a formal EIA of the mining project had been carried out. Nevertheless, the Bureau expressed its concern to the Russian Government and the Kamchatka Administration over the potential consequences of the proposed mine, and requested the Centre to obtain more information, particularly on details of the EIA carried out.
Since the conclusion of the last session of the Bureau in June 1998, IUCN has informed the Centre that a GEF-funded project for this site could significantly strengthen biodiversity conservation in the area and that WWF has also initiated projects for the conservation of the site. Furthermore, IUCN was informed by the Kamchatka authorities that they intend to extend the World Heritage area by including an additional volcano within the region; IUCN has recommended that the Bureau encourage the State Party to proceed with their plans to extend the World Heritage area.
The Centre informed the Bureau that a letter, dated 17 November 1998, from the State Committee for the Environment indicates that there would be no impact on the World Heritage area as the gold deposit would be outside the Bystrinsky park. The Governor of Kamchatka, in his letter of 4 November 1998, underlined that the Aginskoe Gold Mining project is subject to rigid environmental requirements by the Kamchatka Province. Following the IUCN mission in 1997 indicating that the mine would not be visible from the site and would not affect any drainage system, the Governor came to the conclusion that the mine could start subject to the fact that it meets all environmental conditions.
Analysis and Conclusion
The Bureau noted the activities of GEF and WWF for the conservation of Kamchatka. The Bureau recommended that the Centre and IUCN maintain contact with the State Party and the Kamchatka Administration in order to obtain detailed information on the EIA carried out, and to systematically monitor the status of the proposed gold mining project. The Bureau welcomed the possibility that the Kamchatka authorities may be considering extension of the area of the site to include another volcano within the region and encourages the State Party to proceed with such plans in consultation with the Centre and IUCN.
Link to the decision
The Bureau recalled the report by IUCN at the twenty-first session of the World Heritage Committee reviewing a proposed mining project, the location of which was determined to be about 5 km outside of the Bystrinsky portion of the World Heritage area. The location of the mine will disrupt migratory wildlife that inhabit the region and impact fishery resources. IUCN has been in contact with proponents of the mine and has had a request from Canada regarding financial service support that could be provided by the Export Development Corporation (EDC). In this request it is noted that "as a critical first step in their due diligence, and in determining whether such support would be available for the project, EDC wants to be assured that it would not be contravening Article 6, paragraph 3 of the World Heritage Convention." The report of IUCN mentioned the issue of development project loans from various export credit agencies.
As requested by the Committee at its last session, the Centre had asked the State Party to provide detailed information on the proposed mining project, particularly on EIAs carried out and other pertinent information. The Centre informed the Bureau that a letter from the Deputy Minister of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation stated that at present there are no plans to carry out significant geological and operational work in areas adjacent to the World Heritage site which may result in negative ecological impacts. Should such work be carried out, all necessary arrangements will be made to observe existing laws and regulations In addition, a letter of 18 June 1998 from the Governor of Kamchatka reiterated the Kamchatka Administration’s commitment to the protection of the site and the support of the controlled development of the Aginskoe gold deposit. Furthermore, it stated that a formal environmental assessment of the project has been carried out. The final design of the project will be only made taking into account IUCN’s comments. The Governor stated that the development of the gold deposit does not put the World Heritage site at risk and that it is desirable because of the economic development needs of the region.
The Bureau noted the information provided by the Russian authorities and requested the Centre and IUCN to continue maintaining their contacts with the State Party and bring to the attention of the Committee details concerning the EIA carried out on the project. The Bureau expressed its concern to the Russian Government and the Regional Administration of Kamchatka over the potential consequences of the proposed mine, and recalled other cases of natural World Heritage sites threatened by mining proposals.
Link to the decision
VII.27 The Committee noted the decisions of the twenty-second extraordinary session of the Bureau as reflected in the Report of the Bureau session (Working Document WHC-98/CONF.203/5) and included in Annex IV on the following properties:
Heard and McDonald Islands (Australia)
Shark Bay, Western Australia (Australia)
Wet Tropics of Queensland (Australia)
Belovezhskaya Pushcha/Bialowieza Forest (Belarus/Poland)
Iguacu National Park (Brazil)
Dja Faunal Reserve (Cameroon)
Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks (Canada)
Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area (China)
Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area (China)
Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area (China)
Los Katios National Park (Colombia)
Morne Trois Pitons National Park (Dominica)
Nanda Devi National Park (India)
Whale Sanctuary of El Viscaino (Mexico)
Royal Chitwan National Park (Nepal)
Sagarmatha National Park (Nepal)
Arabian Oryx Sanctuary (Oman)
Huascaran National Park (Peru)
Huascaran National Park (Peru)
Kamchatka Volcanoes (Russian Federation)
Virgin Komi Forests (Russian Federation)
Skocjan Caves (Slovenia)
Thung Yai-Huay Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries (Thailand)
St. Kilda (United Kingdom)
Ha Long Bay (Vietnam)
Durmitor National Park (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)
The Committee noted the UN official name for the State Party: Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Mosi-oa-Tunya/Victoria Falls (Zambia/Zimbabwe)
No draft Decision
Volcanoes of Kamchatka
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”).