1.         Western Caucasus (Russian Federation) (N 900)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1999

Criteria  (ix)(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/900/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/900/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

April 2008: World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; May 2009: High-level visit by Director of the World Heritage Centre and the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee; May 2010: World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; September 2012: UNESCO/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission 

 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/900/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

On 1 December 2015, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/900/documents/. The following information is provided in the report:

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The information provided by the State Party concerning the reintroduction of the Persian leopard is welcomed. It is recommended that the World Heritage Committee encourage the State Party to continue its efforts in that regard, in consultation with the IUCN Species Survival Commission Reintroduction Specialist Group.

The information provided by the State Party with regard to the proposed amendments to a number of federal legal provisions concerning protected areas is noted. However, the State Party does not provide any details on how these new amendments relate to the legislative changes over which concerns were raised in previous state of conservation reports and Committee decisions, specifically the Federal Law N°406-FZ, dated 28 December 2013, which made it possible to develop large scale tourism infrastructure in strict nature reserves, and the Order of the Government of the Russian Federation No 603-r, dated 23 April 2012, which permitted construction of tourism and skiing facilities with the necessary supporting infrastructure on the territory of Lagonaki Biosphere Polygon. It should be recalled that the Committee had previously recommended that a comprehensive legal framework for protection and management of World Heritage properties in the Russian Federation should be established. Therefore, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to provide detailed information on the new proposed amendments mentioned above, as well as on the current status of other laws and decrees that might have implications for the protection regime of the property.

It should also be noted that a number of other recent legislative changes raise serious concerns, particularly the amendments adopted by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology in 2015 to the Decrees on the Sochi National Park and the Sochi Federal Wildlife Refuge, which adjoin the property. These amendments changed the zoning regime of the two protected areas, expanding the recreational zones, where tourism infrastructure could be allowed, at the expense of the specially protected zones. Since the areas adjoin the property, construction of large-scale tourism infrastructure on their territory could have negative impacts on the property itself, including through a significant increase in human presence in the area, and associated pressures. This can have particularly serious negative impacts on the reintroduction of the Persian leopard since connectivity of the areas of natural habitat of the species would be significantly disrupted, as well as negatively affect the migration routes of other species, such as Brown Bear and Ibex. 

The confirmation that no new capital infrastructure projects are planned on the Lagonaki Plateau or on the slopes of Mount Fisht or Mount Oshten is noted, as is the information that the recovery of the Lagonaki Plateau from the past excessive grazing continues to show a positive dynamic. IUCN notes a number of media reports suggesting that consideration of plans for development of ski facilities on Lagonaki Plateau is ongoing, and that foreign investors have expressed an interest. On 15 April 2016, the World Heritage Centre wrote a letter to the State Party to verify this information, in line with Paragraph 174 of the Operational Guidelines. No response had been received from the State Party at the time of writing this report. It is recommended that the World Heritage Committee reiterate its position that the installation of capital construction on the Lagonaki Plateau, including Mount Fisht and Oshten, would constitute a case for inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines.

The State Party did not provide any information on the issue of sanitary logging in the “Nature Monuments” within the property, including The Headwaters of Rivers Pshecha and Pshechashcha nature monuments. The issue was raised by the 2012 mission and by the Committee in its Decision 37 COM 7B.23 to which the State Party responded that existing legislation does not provide for prohibition of sanitary cuttings in nature monuments. While noting the legislative difficulties in addressing this issue, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to ensure that no logging is permitted within the entire property, in line with the recommendation of the 2012 mission, as this could have negative impacts on its OUV. It is further recommended that the Committee reiterate its request to the State Party to implement all other remaining recommendations of the 2012 mission.

IUCN’s evaluation of the submitted boundary modification proposal was included in Document WHC/16/40.COM/INF.8B.Add; however, on 19 May 2016, the State Party withdrew the proposed boundary modification, and thus it will not be considered by the 40th session of the World Heritage Committee.

Decision Adopted: 40 COM 7B.101

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 37 COM 7B.23 and 38 COM 7B.77, adopted at its 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013) and 38th (Doha, 2014) sessions, respectively,
  3. Welcomes the information provided by the State Party concerning the reintroduction of the Persian leopard, and encourages the State Party to continue its efforts in that regard, in consultation with the IUCN Species Survival Commission Reintroduction Specialist Group;
  4. Notes the information provided by the State Party that amendments to a number of federal legal provisions concerning protected areas have been proposed and are currently being considered by the Russian parliament, and requests the State Party to provide further details on the proposed amendments, including on how they are related to past legislative changes over which concerns were raised in previous Committee Decisions, namely the Federal Law N°406-FZ and the Order of the Government of the Russian Federation No 603-r;
  5. Notes with concern further legislative changes, specifically the amendments adopted by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology in 2015 to the Decrees on the Sochi National Park and the Sochi Federal Wildlife Refuge, providing for expansion of recreational zones and construction of large scale tourism infrastructure in these protected areas, which adjoin the property, and considers that such amendments could have negative impacts on the property, including on the efforts to reintroduce the Persian leopard in the property by disrupting the connectivity of its natural habitat;
  6. Also notes the information provided by the State Party that no new capital infrastructure projects are planned on the Lagonaki Plateau or on the slopes of Mount Fisht or Mount Oshten and that the recovery of the Lagonaki Plateau from past excessive grazing continues to show a positive dynamic, and also reiterates its position that the installation of capital construction on the Lagonaki Plateau, including Mount Fisht and Oshten, would constitute a case for inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines;
  7. Regrets that the State Party did not provide any updated information on progress achieved to prevent logging in the entire property, including sanitary cuttings within the nature monuments, and also reiterates its request to the State Party to implement the recommendation of the 2012 mission in that regard, namely to “adapt the “certificates” of the “Nature Monuments” included in the property to ensure all logging, including sanitary cutting, construction of roads, overpasses, power lines and other communication infrastructure are not allowed and the construction of capital construction projects for recreational use is prohibited”;
  8. Further reiterates its request to the State Party to implement all other recommendations of the 2012 mission;
  9. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.