1.         Golden Mountains of Altai (Russian Federation) (N 768rev)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1998

Criteria  (x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/768/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/768/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

2001: UNESCO/UNDP mission; 2007: World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Impacts of a road project across the property;

b) Gas pipeline construction plans.

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/768/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2011

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN have received information that plans for the proposed gas pipeline traversing the World Heritage property of the Golden Mountains of Altai in the Russian Federation have not been abandoned as requested in previous Committee decisions. In the report submitted by the State Party on 12 April 2010, it is noted that no official information exists on the construction of a gas pipeline through the Ukok Quiet Zone of the property. Since this report, the World Heritage Centre did not receive any official notification from the State Party about a planned pipeline through the property. However the information received by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN indicates that work on the Altai gas pipeline to China is to commence this year.

The World Heritage Centre wrote to the State Party on 10 January 2011 requesting additional information on this issue. In a second letter dated 4 February 2011, it informed the State Party that the property’s state of conservation would be reviewed by the World Heritage Committee at its 35th session, and requested that it provide a state of conservation report no later than 1 March 2011. The State Party replied in a letter dated 1 March 2011 that it has forwarded the information to the relevant authorities and to Gazprom and awaits their reply in order to provide a state of conservation report by the end of March. No state of conservation report or any further information regarding the state of conservation of the property had been provided to the World Heritage Centre at the time of drafting this document.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall that the World Heritage Committee in its decision 32 COM 7B.22 previously stated that the construction of a gas pipeline through the property would constitute a threat to its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and would present a clear case for inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN further recall that the report of the 2007 joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN mission clearly highlights the important impacts of the construction operation and maintenance of such a gas pipeline.

IUCN was provided with a copy of an official letter from Gazprom to civil society representatives dated 05.04.2011 № 03/0850-216 and signed by the Deputy-Head of the Department of Transportation, Underground Storage and the Use of Gas. The letter states that a decision about the construction of the gas pipeline via the territory of the Golden Mountains of Altai has not been adopted yet, but that an independent Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has shown that the proposed route through Ukok Plateau within the property is considered as the optimal route for the gas pipeline. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that no EIA has been submitted to the World Heritage Centre to date.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN further note that a letter was sent to the Director General of UNESCO on 15 December 2010 by the “Sosnovka” Coalition, a group of non-governmental and indigenous rights organizations from Siberia and the Russian Far East. The coalition opposes the construction of the pipeline and points to possible adverse impacts on the natural ecosystems and cultural heritage of the Ukok Plateau. It also suggests that a reasonable alternative pipeline route exists along the Chuiskii tract through Mongolia, and that this would require further evaluation.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall that the World Heritage Committee, in its Decision 32 COM 7B.22, previously stated that the construction of a gas pipeline through the property would constitute a threat to its OUV and would present a clear case for inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger. They reiterate that, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, an independent Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) should be conducted for this project and submitted to the World Heritage Centre before a decision is taken. The EIA should consider possible alternative routes for the Altai gas pipeline outside the property, which would not adversely impact its OUV. They recommend that the Committee request the invitation of a joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN mission to the property to examine the current status of this project. 

Decision Adopted: 35 COM 7B.26

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/7B.Add,

2. Recalling Decisions 32 COM 7B.22 and 33 COM 7B.27 adopted at its 32nd (Quebec City, 2008) and 33rd (Seville, 2009) sessions respectively,

3. Expresses its utmost concern that the State Party has not yet made an unequivocal decision to abandon the construction of the Altai gas pipeline through the property as requested in Decision 33 COM 7B.27, and about reports that the construction is scheduled to go ahead this year;

4. Reiterates that any decision to go forward with the construction of the gas pipeline through the property would constitute a threat to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and represent clear case for its inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger, as noted in its Decision 32 COM 7B.22;

5. Urges the State Party to submit an independent Environmental Impact Assessment of the proposed pipeline to the World Heritage Centre before a decision is taken on the project, including a map showing all potential and preferred pipeline routes in relation to the property, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;

6. Requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission to the property to determine the status of the proposed pipeline, to meet with representatives of the pipeline developers, and to evaluate the possible impacts of the proposed pipeline on the property's Outstanding Universal Value;

7. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2012, a report on the state of conservation of the property, including clarification of the status of the proposed pipeline and a copy of its Environmental Impact Assessment, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session in 2012, with a view to considering, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.