The State Party submitted its report on the state of conservation of the property on 15 February 2008, which reported on progress in responding to the recommendations of the 2007 joint reactive monitoring mission.
From 3 to 8 September 2007 a joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN monitoring mission visited the property as requested by the World Heritage Committee in its Decision 31 COM 7B.25 at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007). The mission was requested in response to reports of the planned construction of a natural gas pipeline from Russia to China, passing through the Ukok highland of the property. The mission met State Party representatives, a variety of stakeholders and protected area staff, an indigenous organisation and Gazprom and its subsidiary Tomsktransgaz, and a joint stock company Giprospetsgaz. The mission was able to visit the five protected areas of this serial property, and participated in a round table meeting at Ust-Koksa on 7 September which discussed the condition of the World Heritage property within the sustainable development system of the Altai mountain region. The mission report is available online at the following web address: http://whc.unesco.org/archive/2008/
The mission team found that the property is well managed but several existing and potential threats could affect its outstanding universal value and integrity, the most significant of these threats being the transboundary gas pipeline to China planned to pass through the Ukok Quiet Zone Nature Park. The mission team identified nine recommendations to address these threats:
The construction of any gas pipeline passing through the property would constitute a threat to the outstanding universal value and integrity and would represent a clear case for inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Therefore alternative routes outside its boundaries should be explored.
The State Party noted the construction of any gas pipeline would not occur until investments and the signing of an intergovernmental agreement have been secured. For the moment the project is still not confirmed. However, the State Party reported that it would inform the World Heritage Committee, including on the possible impact of the construction, as soon as any decisions had been taken.
There is a need to complete the management plans for all individual components of the property and prepare an overall management framework for the property as a whole, setting out a common vision and objectives.
Through its project “Biodiversity conservation in the Russian part of the Altai-Sayan region”, the State Party is providing management personnel to the property and will establish a development plan 2008-2012. A management plan is also being prepared through broad interdisciplinary collaboration but no information on deadlines for its finalisation and approval was provided.
A sustainable tourism strategy for the property should be developed as soon as possible, in partnership with the tourism industry, local communities and other stakeholders. This is essential in order to manage tourism in a manner that is sustainable and consistent with the values of the property.
The State Party has prohibited any activity in the 26,800 ha preservation zone where most threatened and endemic wildlife and plant species are located. Visitors are strictly regulated in the 39,200 ha Limited Management Zone. In the 186,904 ha Recreation Zone, activities including campsites are limited to those which do not contravene the aims and goals of the property. However no information was provided on progress achieved on the development of an overall tourism strategy for the property. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN believe that these isolated measures are not sufficient to address potential threats from tourism development.
A coherent monitoring system for collection of tourism information should be established, including on tourist arrivals and activities in order to create reliable baseline data.
The State Party reported that it has begun monitoring programmes, but did not specify details on the programmes or their results.
Management between the two systems of protected areas (federal and regional) needs to be better integrated. There is a need to clarify the legal status of Lake Teletskoe and to ensure that all legal provisions are in place for coherent control and inspection, including the legal provisions allowing nature reserve staff to act against infringements in the adjoining areas of Lake Teletskoye Natural Monument and Mt. Belukha Nature Park.
The number of staff in Ukok Nature Park should be increased from the present level of five to at least eleven in order to effectively control and manage the area. A similar increase in staff should also be considered for the Belukha Mountain Nature Park. The staff should be provided with adequate equipment and other means to carry out their duties effectively.
A joint World Heritage environmental education programme should be developed for all five protected areas and information on the World Heritage property as a whole should be disseminated, as well as a joint research strategy including streamlined and coordinated monitoring system in order to complement activities and avoid duplication.
Transboundary cooperation between the different protected areas should be strengthened and provisions should be made for the Directors of the Nature Parks to attend the meetings of the Association of the Altai-Sayan Mountain Range.
The State Party reported that it is beginning to cooperate with the Mongolian State Party within the framework of the international Russian-Mongolian-Kazakh-Chinese project for creation of a transboundary biosphere reserve.
To foster and expand the dialogue and cooperation with representatives from civil society, thereby taking advantage of their knowledge and abilities in the conservation and management of the property.
Overall none of the recommendations from the 2007 reactive monitoring mission have been fully implemented despite the urgency to address them. IUCN would like to stress that building a gas pipeline through this property would represent a clear case for inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger. It further notes the importance of integrating the legal and management structures within the component units of the property and the need to complete and implement the management plans as soon as possible. The State Party is encouraged to ensure that its monitoring programmes specifically include the monitoring of the outstanding universal value and integrity of the property.