The State Party provided a comprehensive state of conservation report on 1 February 2011. It informed the World Heritage Centre that a Federal Law on the transfer of State or Municipal properties of religious origin to religious organizations had been approved by the President of the Russian Federation in 2010. While the state of conservation report describes in detail approaches to conservation work for each component of the ensemble, the State Party emphasizes the importance of numerous proposals for tourism development (new hotels and ethnographic houses, removal of windmills, rebuilding existing structures on a larger scale, such as the 19th century Tea House and the reconstructed Dionysos’ School in Ferrapontovo). The report also proposes reconstruction of certain spaces within the monastery to be used for visitors and museum facilities. The reconstructions proposed are justified in terms of completing former historic layouts to meet service needs, in spite of a lack of detailed documentation to support these proposals. The report further describes the desire of the State Party to expand the boundaries of the World Heritage property.
A joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission was carried out at the property from 5 to 12 December 2010. Further to the adoption of the abovementioned Federal Law, the presence of a representative of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate during the mission was a clear sign of the importance given by the religious authorities to the implementation of the World Heritage Convention. The mission report is available online at the following web address: http://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/35COM/.
The principle recommendations of the mission are the following:
a) Management structure
The existing structure does not guarantee appropriate coordination between stakeholders. Different actors are involved, without sufficient coordination, in the management of different components of the property. Insufficient coordination and inadequate control represent potential threats for the property. The involvement of the Russian Orthodox Church is still unclear, although under the new Federal Law, it should play a key role in the future management of the property.
The State Party needs to establish a special board, including all stakeholders concerned, as well as representatives of the Patriarchate of Moscow and All-Russia, as previously requested by the World Heritage Committee, in order to develop and implement appropriate legal measures and rules for conservation, restoration and use, a joint management system for the religious World Heritage properties in the Russian Federation, and specific measures appropriate for each religious property.
b) State of conservation
The mission highlights the professionalism of the conservation work of the mural paintings in the church of Nativity of the Virgin. The layers of frescoes have been consolidated and cleaned using a specific methodology. This includes a consolidation under each shell layer of paint, instead of a full consolidation of the entire surface of the fresco. To ensure the absolute authenticity of all frescoes, alterations and improvisations have been banned. The missing fragments are left in neutral white. However, the mission noted a certain disproportion in the overall conservation approach. Over the past ten years, interventions have focused almost exclusively in the Church of Nativity of the Virgin, while all other components have been relatively abandoned (Martynian churches, Epiphany and Ferrapont). There is a significant delay in the maintenance of the property, and this has led to physical damage to the architectural structures. The mission also observed an inappropriate use of certain parts of the monastery. The mission recommended that the State Party should put in place permanent monitoring of the property to halt and prevent any structural degradation of its components.
c) Management, protection and boundary issues
The draft management plan submitted by the State Party was considered inadequate by the mission. In addition to the property, it includes two other sites (the Kirilo-Belozersky monastery and Tzipinski Pogost) with a clear intention of presenting arguments for a possible new serial nomination. The plan proposes a very superficial analysis of real problems related to the property, lacks proposals on the main instruments of a master plan, legal protection, limitations, development plans and the management system. It appears that the obvious aim of this plan is to prove the need for new constructions. The proposed Action Plan is limited and not sufficiently argued. The mission noted a lack of information on planned financial resources for the implementation of programmes and measures of protection, preservation and management of the property. Currently resources are not allocated according to clear and detailed short and long term programs, but only for occasional events: anniversaries, celebrations, official visits, etc.
The mission also reviewed new construction projects within the property and considers that the State Party should not permit any reconstruction and/or development projects within the inscribed property. The State Party should provide information on any projects and activities, such as the Touristic Complex or the School of Dionysos, which may impact the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines. All illegal and inappropriate structures and constructions within the property and its buffer zone should be removed.
The State Party should elaborate four integrated plans to ensure efficient management and protection of the property:
- A detailed urban plan, which would establish construction regulations in the buffer zone in accordance with existing detailed protection regimes;
- A detailed development plan of the property and its landscape, including specifications for land use, house facilities, urban equipment, lighting, planting trees and advertising;
- A conservation master plan which would allow for regular planning of all conservation activities on the property;
- A management plan that would co-ordinate the impacts of all management instruments, including legal protection and all development plans, and result in a realistic and comprehensive action plan with resources and responsibilities established.
Following an analysis of the current situation, the mission recommended that the State Party should consider submitting an official request for possible modification of the boundaries of the inscribed property and its buffer zone in order to ensure a proper protection of the property and to conform to the boundaries actually in use for the property management. The State Party should develop and adopt a detailed protection regime for the buffer zone of the property, including specific regulations for constructions and land use, and strengthen the system of development control within it.
The mission did not receive any information on this issue. The land located in the vicinity of the property is designated in the Master Plan for the construction of a tourist complex "The School of Dionysus" but no detailed information on this project was provided. The project appears to represent a potential threat to the traditional panorama dominated by the monastery Ferrapontov and its construction should be suspended until a thorough assessment is carried out concerning its impact on the Outstanding Universal Value.
All potential tourist facilities and services should not negatively affect the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and should be developed in the buffer zone by using already existing buildings. Altogether, the State Party should develop a comprehensive tourism strategy and program of tourist visits.