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: Joint UNESCO/UNDP mission; 2007, 2012: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring missions

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018

On 1 February 2018, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/768/documents/, and provides the following information:

The report provides more detailed information on one component of the property, the Katunsky State Nature Reserve, including on long-term monitoring of climate change impacts on high altitude ecosystems and monitoring of glaciers. Information also concerns visitor management and measures taken to monitor impacts along the trails and mitigate potential negative impacts, as well as on efforts to better engage with local communities and stakeholders regarding activities aimed at outreach, education and promotion of the World Heritage property and at supporting local communities and promoting sustainable livelihoods, including through the development of ecotourism activities involving local people.

On 10 January 2018, the World Heritage Centre sent a letter to the State Party requesting clarifications regarding third party information raising concerns about planned and ongoing tourism infrastructure development, as well as potential gold exploration and extraction within the property. At the time of writing this report, no response has been received from the State Party.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The State Party report provides little information on the progress made in the implementation of the recommendations of the 2012 mission and most of the information provided is related to one component of the property only, the Katunsky State Nature Reserve. It is recommended that the Committee recalls the 2012 mission recommendations and urges the State Party to provide a full report of their implementation across all components of the property.

The approval by UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme of the transboundary Biosphere Reserve “Great Altai”, which includes the Katunsky State Nature Reserve component of the property and the Katon-Karagaiskiy National Park in Kazakhstan is welcome. It is also welcome that transboundary cooperation with Mongolia has been enhanced through a Memorandum of Understanding between the reserve’s authorities and the Administration of Protected Areas of the Mongolian Altai, as recommended by the 2012 mission. It is recommended that the Committee encourage again all the States Parties of the Altai region to consolidate existing transboundary conservation efforts, including through the application of the World Heritage Convention where appropriate.

The efforts to ensure better engagement of local communities and other stakeholders in the management of the property, and activities aimed at promoting sustainable livelihoods and outreach, education and promotion activities are also welcome and should be further encouraged and expanded to other parts of the property. While the State Party reconfirms that the route of the proposed Altai gas pipeline has not yet been determined and that no construction works have been undertaken, it should be recalled that the Committee has repeatedly urged the State Party to take an unequivocal decision to abandon the plans for the construction of the pipeline through the property and that any decision to go forward with the Altai gas pipeline through the property would represent an ascertained danger to its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines.  It should be further recalled that the Committee also has repeatedly expressed its concerns about Decree N202 of the Republic of Altai adopted in 2012, which legally enables construction of linear infrastructure within the property. It is unclear which type of infrastructure the State Party refers to in the report when stating that such infrastructure is considered vital for the socio-economic development of indigenous people living on the Ukok plateau. However, it should be recalled that it was noted in previous State of conservation reports that the Decree was elaborated specifically to facilitate the Altai gas pipeline project, which is intended for the export of gas to China. It is therefore strongly recommended that the Committee reiterate its request that the State Party revoke Decree N202.

The information that the Kalgutinskoye deposit of tungsten-molybdenum ores located on the territory of the Ukok Quiet Zone Nature Park is not being developed is noted. However, it is unclear whether this statement merely reflects the current situation or if it refers to a long-term commitment to prohibit its development. Furthermore, the third party information received regarding recent granting of a licence for gold exploration and extraction from a deposit located within the property in close proximity to Lake Teletskoye raises serious concerns. It is therefore recommended that the Committee request the State Party to provide detailed information on any existing mining licences within the property or its vicinity, recalling the Committee’s established position that mining is incompatible with World Heritage status. It is further recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to revoke any mining concessions that overlap with the property and ensure that mining outside the property is not permitted if it is likely to have negative impacts on the property’s OUV. Likewise, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to clarify third party information on planned and ongoing tourism infrastructure development within the property.

Decision Adopted: 42 COM 7B.75

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7B.5, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Regrets that the State Party report provides little information on the progress made in the implementation of the recommendations of the 2012 mission and that most of the information provided is related to one component of the property only, the Katunsky State Nature Reserve;
  4. Urges the State Party to implement all the recommendations of the 2012 mission, as adopted in Decision 36 COM 7B.25, across all components of the property and to provide information of progress achieved to the World Heritage Centre;
  5. Commends the States Parties of the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan for their ongoing transboundary cooperation resulting in the official approval by the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme of the transboundary Biosphere Reserve “Great Altai”, which includes the component of the property Katunsky State Nature Reserve and Katon-Karagaiskiy National Park in Kazakhstan, welcomes enhanced transboundary cooperation with the State Party of Mongolia and encourages again all States Parties in the Altai region to consolidate existing transboundary conservation efforts, including under the World Heritage Convention;
  6. Also welcomes the efforts undertaken by the State Party aimed at involving local communities and other stakeholders in the management of the property, including activities supporting local communities and promoting sustainable livelihoods as well as outreach, promotion and education, and encourages the State Party to continue these efforts, including in other parts of the property;
  7. Noting the information provided by the State Party that the route for the Altai gas pipeline has not yet been determined and that no construction works have been undertaken, but reiterates its concern about legal changes introduced in 2012, which grant the legal basis for construction of linear infrastructure within the Ukok plateau component of the property, also reiterates its position that any decision to go forward with the Altai gas pipeline through the property would represent an ascertained danger to its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines, and therefore a clear case for inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger; and therefore reiterates its request to the State Party to take an unequivocal decision to abandon the plans for the construction of the Altai gas pipeline through the property as a matter of urgency, and to consider alternative routes and to revoke Decree N202 of the Republic of Altai dated 2 August 2012;
  8. Also noting the information provided by the State Party that the Kalgutinskoye deposit of tungsten-molybdenum ores located on the territory of the Ukok Quiet Zone Nature Park is not being developed, however, notes with serious concern that, according to third-party information received by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, a licence would have recently been granted for gold exploration and extraction from a deposit located within the property in close proximity to Lake Teletskoye, reiterates its established position that mining is incompatible with World Heritage status, and requests the State Party to urgently respond and to provide detailed clarifications regarding any existing or proposed mining licences or concessions that overlap with the property and to revoke any mining licences or concessions that overlap with the property and to ensure that mining outside the property is not permitted if it is likely to have negative impacts on the property’s OUV;
  9. Also requests the State Party to clarify third party information raising concerns about planned and ongoing tourism infrastructure development within the property;
  10. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2019, an updated report on the state of conservation of the entire property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session in 2019, with a view to considering, in case of the confirmation of ascertained or potential danger to the property’s OUV, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.