On 14 March 2012, a report on the state of conservation of the property was submitted by the State Party. The report only provides information on the 4 components of the property managed by the regional authorities (Nalychevo, South Kamchatka, Bystrinsky and Kluchevskoy), which form together the Kamchatka Nature Park, but does not provide any data on the two components managed by the federal state, Kronotsky Strict Nature Reserve and the South Kamchatka Wildlife Refuge. The following information is provided:
a) Legal protection and management
The State Party recalls that in 2009 the “Kamchatka NaturePark was formed including four of the six protected areas making up this serial property. It clarifies that, while the joint Regional State Budgetary Institution has already assumed control of the four Nature Parks, a joint NaturePark has not been formally established yet, but notes that the Regulation for the Kamchatka NaturePark is currently under consideration by the Kamchatka Krai Administration. The State Party further reports that following revision of boundaries in 2010, the combined area of the four Nature Parks is 2,513,658 ha, which is significantely less than the total area 2,526,150 ha of these components as currently inscribed on the World Heritage List. No request for boundary revision was submitted and no copy of the draft Regulation and no current map of the property was provided by the State Party, as requested in Decision 34 COM 7B.23. The State Party did not report on progress with enacting a national law for the management of all natural World Heritage properties on its territory, as suggested by Decision 34 COM 7B.23.
The report of the State Party indicates that coordination of the management of the four regional Nature Parks is progressing, but information on progress in this area for the property as a whole, which also includes two additional federally administred protected areas, is not provided. As management, governance and jurisdiction issues have been identified by the 2007 monitoring mission as underlying causes for most of the direct pressures on the property, the lack of information on progress in the implementation of the 2007 mission recommendations suggests that the property’s Outstanding Universal Value and integrity, particularly in relation to criteria (ix) and (x) remain of concern.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN further note the new Federal Law No. 365-FZ dated 30 November 2011, which has significantly weakened the protection regime of Strict Nature Reserves, making it possible to construct large scale tourism infrastructure within these reserves. They consider that issue should be addressed at federal level as it affects the protection status of all natural World Heritage sites in the Russian Federation.Human resources and budgets of the property
The State Party reports that the combined staff of the four Nature Parks remained constant at 37 since 2009, and that the budget increased by approximately 20% to 32.32 million rubles (1.1 million US dollars) between 2010 and 2011, mainly due to annual inflation and staff salary increases. The State Party further notes that the 20 rangers of the four Nature Parks increased the number of field operations from 182 to 988 between 2010 and 2011, detected more than twice as many legal violations and almost quadrupled the amount of fines imposed in the same period. The State Party does not provide new information on the resourcing of Kronotskiy Strict Nature Reserve or the South Kamchatka Wildlife Refuge, the two other protected areas of the serial property.
The reported current staff numbers of the Nature Parks are essentially the same as in 2007 (36) and hence remain insufficient for such a large area (one staff member per 68,000 ha). The budget allocation for the Nature Parks was approximately 20% higher in 2011 than in 2007, but as this is mainly due to inflation and salary increases there is still a considerable funding gap. This indicates that the capacity of the now joint administration of the four regional Nature Parks has only slightly improved since the 2007 reactive monitoring mission, and that the conclusion of the mission that the Nature Parks do not afford an adequate level of protection to the property remains the case.
b) Development of hiking and tourism infrastructure
The State Party notes that visitor numbers to the four Nature Parks increased by 7% to 24,290 between 2010 and 2011. The State Party provides information about the establishment of a network of documented tourism and hiking routes in the four Nature Parks. It further notes that tourism numbers are monitored and that the routes have been designed to reduce human-induced pressures, but provides no further detail. No information on a comprehensive tourism management plan for the property is provided by the State Party.
Decision 34 COM 7B.23 requested the State Party to develop a comprehensive tourism management plan that balances the OUV of the property with its touristic potential. Information supplied to IUCN indicates plans to develop mountain ski resorts in four locations in Kamchatka, including in close proximity to the property at Avachinskiy Volcano which is located on the boundary of Nalychevo Nature Park. In light of the proximity and the potential impact of at least one of these developments on the OUV and integrity of the property, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider the need to develop a comprehensive sustainable tourism development plan even more urgent.
c) Poaching of salmon and other wildlife
The State Party states that the ecosystems of the Nature Parks making up the property are virtually intact, and that their overall biota and animal populations are at a natural average level and raise no serious concern. It does not provide data to corroborate this general statement, such as information about the trends of major wildlife populations within the property since inscription, as requested by the Committe at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010).
The State Party notes that major factors affecting the OUV of the property include salmon and caviar poaching (which has reportedly become extensive over the last ten years), game poaching and illegal logging, but provides no statistics on any of these factors. The State Party mentions a protection strategy for wildlife within the protected areas, without providing detail, but does not mention the inter-institutional anti-poaching brigades highlighted by the 2007 monitoring mission as a promising approach to control poaching. The information provided by the State Party indicates that illegal and unsustainable hunting remains a serious concern for the property. The recommendations of the 2007 monitoring mission to assess zoning and concession procedures, to conduct baseline research on Kamchatka bear populations, and to introduce a generalized access policy to the property including the Nature Parks, which would contribute to reducing the poaching pressure on salmon, remain valid.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall the 2007 monitoring mission findings that some of the species that contribute to the OUV of the property appear to have declined significantly in the recent past. Reports received by IUCN in 2010 further indicated a marked decline in the wild reindeer population in 2009.
d) Other conservation issues – mining and hydro-electric dams
Although the State Party does not report on mining and geological prospecting, the development or upgrading of roads and gas pipelines including necessary mitigation measures, and major infrastructure development projects (including power stations) within or adjacent to the property, these activities remain a serious potential threat to the property. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN have received reports about plans to construct two hydropower stations on the Kronotskiy River, within Kronotskiy Strict Nature Reserve, currently the component Protected Area of the property with the highest protection status. These plans were discussed on the website of the Kamchatka Government in November 2011 (http://kamkrai.com/gov/1422-vladimir-ilyuhin-energetika-hrebet-ekonomiki-kamchatskogo-kraya .html; and http://www.kamchatka.gov.ru/ ?cont=info&menu=1&menu2=0&news_id=19912). In April 2012, reports about negotiations with investors from a South Korean company about financing for this project were published on the same website. If these projects are approved, they are likely to have a serious direct impact on the OUV of the property, particularly in relation to criteria (vii), (ix) and (x). The potential impacts of these projects should be assessed through a comprehensive environmental impact assessment (EIA), which explicitly includes effects on the Outstanding Universal Value and related conditions of integrity of the property. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that the approval of hydro-electric projects within the property would represent a clear potential danger to its OUV in line with paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines.