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Western Caucasus (re-nomination)

Date of Submission: 04/06/2014
Criteria: (ix)(x)
Category: Natural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of the Russian Federation to UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
Krasnodar Territory, Republic of Adygeya, Karachayevo-Cherkessian Republic
Coordinates: N43 36 29.46 E40 48 10.17
Ref.: 5926
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Description

Preparation of new nomination "Western Caiscasus" (re-nomination) resolves three basic tasks:

1. Expand the area of existing World I leritage Site by means of broad leaved old-growth forests
(currently not represented within the Site boundaries) of Sochi National Park and Sochi Reserve, located on the southern macroslope of Greater Caucasus and forming almost a continuous strip along the southern and south-western boundaries of the "Western Caucasus" Site;

2. Eliminate apparent errors, allowed during formation of the nomination case tile of 1999, forwhich purpose rectify the boundaries and area of the territories, comprising the nomination of "Western Caucasus", correct the boundaries and area of the World Heritage Site;

3. Carve out a part of the area of Lagonaki plateau from the existing World Heritage Site notmeeting the criteria of outstanding global value and integrity due to the reason of considerable anthropogenic disturbance of this area as a result of intensive cattle grazing in the second half of XX century and active tourist activity.

4. Prepare the basis and proposals for creating a buffer zone of Western Caucasus Site in the newboundaries and their common management plan.

Area of nominated area: 358,112.94 ha; Area of buffer zone: nil;

The site "Western Caucasus-in the new nomination capacity is represented by 175 km long stretch of unpopulated, undeveloped or marginally developed western part of the Greater Caucasus range, which is the most important watershed divide and climatic barrier between Eastern Europe and West Asia, i.e. between the two continents. The site represents all the characteristic landscapes and fundamental types of vegetation of the Greater Caucasus, with pronounced latitudinal and longitudinal zonality. Moreover, the site represents the unique Colchian vegetation.

The area, proposed for expansion of the existing World Heritage site "Western Caucasus", is located mainly on the southern macroslope of the Greater Caucasus, starting from 40 km to the north-west of the existing nomination, and spreads to the southeast in three large fragments. The first separate patch is located in the upper reaches of the river Ashe. The second and the largest patch is adjacent directly to the boundaries of the existing Western Caucasus site in the upper reaches of the rivers Psezuapse, Shakhe and Sochi. The third patch also closely borders with the site "Western Caucasus", but in the upper reaches of Mzymty River. These new patches form part of the reserve and specially protected zones of Sochi National Park (SNP), and Sochi General State Nature Sanctuary.

Incomparably smaller, but valuable patches supplement the existing "Western Caucasus" nomination on the northern macroslope as well. These being the forests to the north from Lagonaki plateau, in the valley of the rivers Tsitsa and Pshekha: beech forests, beech and fir forests and box forests.

The proposed new area of total length 140 km and width 3 - 10 km occupies an area of 69,828 ha.

Relief

The site area is a section of the western part of the Greater Caucasus range, comprising of several parallel ranges. The basis of its relief is the Greater Caucasus range, stretching from northwest to southeast. Overall, the range is asymmetrical. It has steep southern macroslope, falling to the Black Sea and included in the Colchian region of Caucasus highland. The wide northern macroslope of least dip is made up from the system of additional ranges: Bokovoi, Peredovoi and Skalisty.

Typically, the mountain relief is characterized by elevation changes of 250 - 3.360 m above sea level. The highest points viz. the Akaragvarta Mountain (3.360 in), Tsakhvoa Mountain (3,346 m), Pseashkho Mountain (3,256 in) and Chugush Mountain (3,228 m) arc related to the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range. The peak height of the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range increases in the direction from the west to the east.

The Bokovoi range passes to the north of the Greater Caucasus Range with marked mid-mountain relief. Further, north of the Bokovoi range and parallel to the Greater Caucasus Range is the Peredovoi range, dissected by the river valleys into separate stretches. The highest peaks here are Pshekish Mountain (2,257 in), Bolshoi Tkach Mountain (2,364 m), Yatyrgvarta Mountain (2,760.1 m). Overall, the Peredovoi range has smooth and slightly sloping form of relief.

The northwestern part of "Western Caucasus" has been formed by the Fisht-Oshtensky mountain group with three peaks viz. Fisht Mountain (2,867.7 m), Pshekho-Su (2,743.9 in) and Oshten Mountain (2,804.0 in). The limestone block is dissected by numerous funnels, caves, karren, vauclusians. The Lagonaki plateau closely adjoins the massif, which represents the system of medium altitude mountain graded ranges with extensive subalpine and alpine meadows, developed at the karsted limestone massif.

The northern boundary of the Site passes mainly along the Rocky range. The Rocky range starts near the Lagonaksky highlands and extends to the east. The range has sharp asymmetrical appearance, characteristic for cuesta, viz. slightly sloping long northern slope and steep, dropping sharply southern slope. The heights of the Rocky range reach the levels 1,000 to 1,250 in. Individual peaks of the Rocky range exceed 2,000 in: Acheshbok, or Chertovy Vorota (2,486 in), Afonka (2,036 m).

The Southern Front Range is at the territory of Sochi National Park on the southern macroslope, parallel to the Greater Caucasus Range. The massif Aibga (2,396 m), Bzych (1,936.7 m), Amuko (1.918 m), Autl (1,855.7 in) etc. belong to it. The third to the south chain of mountain ranges unites the massif with heights about 1,000 M: Dzykhra (1,277.1 m), Akhtsu (1,124 m), Arosh (836 m) etc. It is less expressed in the relief than the previous. The fourth chain of mountain ranges with heights Akhun (662.7 in), Mamaika (307 in) and Akhshtyr (464 m), which is stretching from the southeast, ends abruptly to the sea. The mountain chains and dividing intermountain falls are intersected by the valleys of numerous rivers and streams.

Hydrology

About 80 small glaciers are located at the "Western Caucasus" territory, of total area 18.2 km2 and more than 130 mountain lakes of different origin, age and size, with the most famous among them being Kardyvach (14 ha), Inpsi (13 ha) and Bezmolviya (20 ha).

The rivers of the northern part of "Western Caucasus" belong to the Kuban River basin, falling into Azov Sea; the rivers of southern macroslope have relatively short length and after 50-100 kmfrom the origins fall directly into the Black Sea. The full-flow of the rivers during the course of the year intensely changes, as they are fed by precipitations. The largest rivers of northern slope of "Western Caucasus are Belaya (with tributaries Ches-Su, Kisha, Pshekha etc.), Malaya Laba (with tributaries Tsakhvoa, lirushten), and the Zakan and Damkhurts Rivers, related to the Bolshoi Laby basin, of the southern slope — Mzymta (with tributaries Chvezhipse, Laura, Achipse, Pslukh, Tikhaya etc.), Khosta, Sochi, Shakhe (with tributaries Bzych, Azhu, Bushchi etc.). The territory of Sochi National Park is similarly covered by vast hydrographic network of rivers and streams. Here there are more than 60 rivers and streams with numerous inflows. The longest and full-flowing river of the Dart is Mzymty River. The largest are also Shakhe, Psou, Sochi, Psezuapse, Ashe Rivers. All the rivers fall directly into the Black Sea. The length of rivers fluctuates from 7 to 89 km. They are primarily of mixed feed: ground water, rainwater and snow. Moreover, Mzymta River is also glacier-fed.

The hydrological system of the nominated area has undergone no changes. Water is of drinking quality and even spring water quality, and many adjoining population centers (villages and settlements) consume it without treatment, directly from the river channels. The resort city Sochi is provided with water, which is taken from channels of the largest rivers viz. Shakhe, Mzymty and Sochi Rivers.

Climate

"Western Caucasus" is located in the zone of intersection of moderate and warm humid climatic belts. Its relief exerts a great influence on the climate of individual parts of the Site. Many ranges are the boundaries of climatic areas. The Greater Caucasus range prevents the transfer of cold air mass from the north to the south. The warm and humid climate of the Black Sea coast and low-hill terrain has nature, close to sub-tropical, average temperature in January is 4.2°C, in July and August — 20-21°C.

In the middle altitudes the annual temperature fluctuates from 1 to 6°C, average temperature in January is –4 to –6°C; winters are moderate, snow-covered. The snow cover is retained for five or more months. The summer is moderately warm, average temperature in July is 16-22°C. Annual amount of precipitation is 700-1,200 mm, and the maximum is in early summer.

From the height about 2,000 in the leading role belongs to the western transfer of air, therefore the highland climate is more humid and by certain properties of its regime reminds of marine climate. However, winter here is distinguished by sustained frost. Thus at the level about 2,000 m the average temperature of January fluctuates from –6 to –8 °C, about 3,000 m reaches –10 °C.

The temperature of air in the mountains of "Western Caucasus" decreases by 0.5°on an average rise of every 100 m. The Black Sea considerably influences the overall climate. The cyclones of the Mediterranean front, defining the precipitation regime and quantity, pass predominantly above the nature reserve. Their greatest amount is observed on the windward southwestern slopes. The snow line due to significant humidity of the climate in the western area of the reserve is lower than in the eastern area by 200-500 in. At the northern macroslope, it passes at the level of 2,750 3,200 in. The height of snow cover in the mountains is highly intermittent. The snow cover thickness at the flattened areas of the mountains constitutes 2-4 m. Snow avalanches are common.

Soil

The soil cover of the "Western Caucasus" site has strongly pronounced altitudinal sequence. Mountain-meadow, mountain-meadow-forest, mountain-forest, alluvial soils of river valleys and azonal soil types are distinguished here. Mountain meadow soil is predominant in the central and eastern part of the Site.

Mountain-meadow alpine soil is found at the heights of 2,300-2,500 to 2,800-2,900 in above sea level below the alpine vegetation. Mountain-meadow subalpine soil is confined to the subalpine belt and formed within the limits of heights 1,850-2,000 to 2,300-2,500 m below subalpine vegetation. Mountain-meadow-forest soil is prevalent by a short belt at the places of contact of subalpine and forest vegetation, rhododendron thickets in the subalpine belt and below rarefied birch, beech and maple timber stands with thick grass cover. The mountain-forest brown soil occupies more than half of the territory of the Caucasus natural reserve at the height 600 – 850 in. The mountain forest brown acid soil is confined to the upper part of the forest viz. pine forests with closed canopy. Brown weakly unsaturated forest soils are formed below the fir, fir and beech, beech, oak and chestnut forests on the parent rock materials, rich with base. Humic, carbonated degraded soils are found predominantly in the piedmont part of Sochi National Park. These soils are usually of medium and minor thickness, and at places with developed deluvial processes are thick.

Vegetation

The historic development of the "Western Caucasus" mountains, unique geological, orographic and climatic features were instrumental in the formation of the unique biological diversity, especially vegetation. The saturation of "Western Caucasus" site with endemic and relict species is one of the parameters of its uniqueness. Hydrophilic and thennophilic elements of the late Tertiary flora survived here the unfavorable climatic conditions of glacial and interglacial epoch. The location of "Western Caucasus" on the northern and southern macroslopes of the Greater Caucasus stipulates the clear phytogeographic differentiation of this territory.

The territory of "Western Caucasus" on the northern macroslope belongs to Maikop District of West Caucasus Province. It is represented by the highlands of the moderately warm belt with typical vertical change of orobioms. Represented here are:

–   Zone of beech, beech and fir forests;

–   Zone of fir forest comprising of Caucasian fir;

–      Subalpine zone with crooked birch and willow forest or rhodorets comprising of Caucasian rhodendron and tall grass;

–   Alpine zone with heathland and grassland vegetation and ledge rock;

– Subnival zone with fragmented vegetation on mass of rock;

– Nival zone with ice caps and snow patches.

Oriental beech forests predominantly extend within the limits of 500-1 500 m above sea level. Fir forests and beach and fir formations occupy a greater part of the forests.

Giant grass thickets, called as "subalpine tall grass are found along the ravines, clearings in the forests and edges near the upper boundary of forest.

At the height 1,800-1,900 m above sea level the fir forest gives way to unique vegetation communities of the forest upper limit belt, called as subalpine wood and timber belt. Hooked pine forests frequently form the forest line along the southern slopes.

The heights 2,000-2,300 m above sea level is the tree line of forest expansion. Above lies the treeless space of the highlands, occupied by meadows, bushy scrubs, scree debris and ledge rocks. The Caucasian rhododendron thickets occupy extensive areas in the subalpine belt. Grass and herb meadows constitute the basic vegetation ground in the limits of 1,800-2,400 in above sea level. Low grass small sedge and grass and herb meadows are widespread at the alpine belt meadows.

The southern macroslope, steeply descending to the Black Sea, belongs to the Sochi district of Evksinsky province. It has a special transition version of ecosystems, from eastern sub-Mediterranean Colchian to alpine. These forests, characteristic for warm humid climate of near N-S latitude, are fully represented only at the territory of Sochi National Park, proposed for expansion of the existing World Heritage Site, and are not found anywhere else in Russia.

The bulk of Sochi National Park (SNP), extending from Psou River to Ashe River, belongs to Cherkessk geobotanical district, which is divided into four forest districts with well-defined vertical zonation and influence of slope direction:

– Coastal district of oak and hornbeam forests;

– Area of medium-altitude mountains of chestnut, oak and hornbeam and beech and hornbeam

forests;

– Mountainous area of beech forests;

– Upper mountainous area of beech and fir and fir forests.

Broad-leaved oak, chestnut, hornbeam, maple, ashwood and alder forests are located in the coastal and low mountain area up to height 1,000 m above sea level. Highland forests in their entire range of height are represented primarily in the eastern part of SNP. They are made of beech, beech and fir, rarely white deal forest crops, with mixture of beech, gradually transiting with increase in height above sea level to alpine fir forests with inclusions of maple forests on the terrace type ledges and places with increased wetness. A small part of SNP territory is located in the southeastern part of North Cherkessk district, represented by mesophile Eastern beech and European chestnut forests. Forest meadow plant communities are the widespread component of the biotic mosaic of forest ecosystems of the national park.

On the territory of "Western Caucasus" site, according to summarized information, currently about 4000 species of plant bodies, mushrooms and lichen sprout. The share of vascular plants constitutes more than 2,000 species. This corresponds to 2/3 of the total number of species of the Greater Caucasus and '/2 species of the entire Caucasus (about 6000 species).

Vascular plant are related to the areal types, which represent different elements of flora:

- Eurasian boreal (for example, plants of coniferous forests);

- Eurasian and European moderately-(sub) oceanic (for example, Nemoral plants of deciduous forests);

-  Eurasian and European meridional-submeridional (-moderately) continental (for example, plants of steppes and forest steppes);

-  Submediterranean/Alpine central European;

- (Mediterranean/alpine)- submediterranean, and eastern-Mediterranean species, Euxine, Colchian or western Caucasian species are distributed and are endemics of the provinces or even local areas;

- (Sub-Mediterranean) - Central European and (Mediterranean)- Sub-Mediterranean oreophytes, typical highland plants, besides included here are numerous species, which have only Caucasian or only western Caucasian distribution. Cases of local endemism are also known in Western Caucasus.

The flora of Caucasus reserve has been explored best of all, a greater part of which is located in the northern macroslope. Recorded at the reserve territory are 1586 species (503 genus, 121 families) of vascular plants. From the total quantity of species, 10% are tertiary relicts. The composition of vascular plant flora of the reserve has 416 endemic forms or 26.2% of their total quantity. Endemism of highland flora overall is higher and constitutes 35%. Caucasian endemics represent the largest group. related with the Greater Range in its origin. The forest flora of the reserve includes 16% of endemic species. The flora of Fisht-Oshtensky massif of Lagonaki highland is characterized by the highest uniqueness. Three types of local endemic of this district are noted here, and 22 species are narrow regional endemics.

The flora of Sochi National Park is distinguished by very high species diversity and comprises 2,026 species of vascular plants, of which 164 species belong to trees, shrubs, sub-shrubs and climbers, and the remaining to herbs. In view of direct proximity to the Caucasus reserve, a majority of the species of the National Park coincides with that grown at the reserve. The number of rare plants, animals and mushrooms, included in the Red Book of the Russian Federation and Krasnodar Territory exceeds 70 species. A large numbers of rare Mediterranean species, majority of which is in the Red Books of different levels, are present. Abkhazian floristic endemics are concentrated in the southeastern part of the nominated area. Among 84 Abkhazian endemics at the nominated area of SNP growth of 35 species has been noted.

Wildlife

"Western Caucasus" is part of Holartic biogeographical realm and by faunistic zoning of Caucasus belongs to two large biogeographical sub-realms: Circumboreal and Central Asian. The Site at the Circumboreal realm is represented by the Caucasus forest district of European forest province, and widely distributed forest species are represented in its fauna, found here often at the boundary of its distribution or away from the basic areal. The fauna of Central Asian subregion is represented by the Caucasus mountain meadow district, occupying subalpine, alpine and subnival belts and part of Nagorno-Asian province.

The wildlife of -Western Caucasus" site is extremely varied. Among the animals living here are a multitude of endemic and protected species.

Shellfish

Shellfish fauna of Caucasus reserve, jointly with the territory of Sochi National Park. includes no less than 128 species. The list is to be considered as incomplete. Terrestrial spineless gastropods are predominant. Overwhelming majority of shellfish constitute the Caucasian group species (80 species) ­70%, including Colchian species (29) - 25%, western Caucasian (27) - 24% and General Caucasian (24)

-    21%. The remaining groups in total constitute less than 30% of the total number of species: boreal (21)

-    18.4% and Eastern Mediterranean (12) -11.4%.

Insects

Information about the region's entomofauna is not complete. More than 2.500 species have been recorded (forecast strength about 15,000). Entomofauna best of all has been studied on the territory of the Caucasus reserve. Here it is represented by more than 20 orders. Ninety-eight insect species have been included in the Red Book of Russia and regional Red Books. The largest by the number of species is beetles. About 5,000 species of the representatives of this order comprising of more than 70 families inhabit at all the biotopes of all attitudinal belts. About 12% of beetles are endemic to Caucasus. Similarly, among this order there are many tertiary relicts.

The species composition of lepidopterous insect group is rich and varied. The rarest endemic of Caucasus is Apollo Nordmann and Polyxena. Protected on the territory of the reserve are 31 species of butterflies, included in the Red Book of Russia and regional Red Books, and three are included in IUCN Red List.

The hymenoptrans group is quite varied. Among Syrphidac about 200 species have been detected, 137 species of Dolichopodidae have been described, and among them more than 20 species are endemic.

Ichthyofauna

Twenty-eight species of fish inhabit the rivers of "Western Caucasus", live among them are included in IUCN Red List. The brook trout is the common specie of the upper and middle course of a majority of the Site rivers. The richest is the ichthyofauna of Sochi National Park. It is represented by 27 species and subspecies, related to 24 genus, 8 bloodlines, 7 orders. The representatives of 10 species and subspecies of 4 bloodline fish are characteristic for the lower course of the rivers.

Herpetofauna

The world of amphibians and reptiles of "Western Caucasus" is distinguished by the uniqueness; many types are represented by several sub-species. Each second specie of the amphibians and reptiles inhabiting here is located at the boundary or in total separation from its basic areal. At the Site territory, four types of representative areas of these groups criss-cross (Tuniev, 1994): European, Eastern Mediterranean, Colchian and Caucasian. Sochi National Park is among the most interesting regions of Caucasus isthumus in herpetological relation. Between 86 amphibian and reptile species, inhabiting the Caucasus, 29 (32.6%) are registered within SNP. An overwhelming majority of the species are represented by endemic and relict forms (amphibians — 66%, reptiles -47.7%).

Birds

Avifauna of "Western Caucasus" numbers 246 species, among them about half are nestling, 23 species are included in the Red Book of Russia and 11 in IUCN Red List.

The presence of endemic species and sub-species of birds is a unique feature of avifauna of the region. Endemism is manifested most at the sub-species level. Endemic species are lesser, among the Caucasian snowcock, Caucasian blackcock, and Caucasian chiff-chaff.

The unique migration routes of the birds cross the territory of "Western Caucasus. One of them passes along the Black Sea coast. Smaller migration flows of birds fly over the mountain river valleys.

Sochi National Park is an Important Bird Area of global significance by three key features. Here is a considerable number of species with endemic or organic areal, and species whose propagation is limited by one biotope. Avifauna of the national park numbers 234 species, representing 16 orders: among them 99 are related to nestling, 87 to flying, 36 flying in for wintering, 12 vagrant species.

Mammals

The mammal fauna of "Western Caucasus"numbers 8 species, 11 of them have been included in the Red Book of Russia and 17 in IUCN Red List. Small animals constitute about 60% of the species diversity.

The smallest representatives of mammals are related to the insect-eating order, which numbers 11 species.

At "Western Caucasus" 22 species of night bats, with each third species included in the Red Book of Russia, inhabit.

Rodents are the most numerous order of mammals, that numbers 23 species, among which almost half is represented by relict or endemic forms. Predatory animals at the Site territory number 17 species. Wolves are numerous (about 80 permanently living animals).

Seven hoofed mammal species inhabit "Western Caucasus". The wide spread representatives of cloven-hoofed mammals common for this territory are the Caucasian gazelle and West Caucasian Tur. The unique representative of "Western Caucasus" mammal fauna is the bison.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The area, proposed for expansion of the "Western Caucasus" site, is located in direct geographical contact with the primary territory of the World Heritage Site. The area of reserve and protected zones of Sochi State Natural National Park (62,152 ha) and Sochi State Natural Reserve (6,202 ha) adjoins at the southern macroslope of the Greater Caucasus range to the existing site; at the northern macroslope there is a natural monument of the Republic of Adygeya "Colchian boxwood massif '(1,474 ha).

The nominated territory considerably increases the outstanding universal value of the "Western Caucasus site" by the criteria ix and x, by adding a whole range of important nuances. Thus, the availability of narrow local endemics among animals and plants, allows considering this territory as the potential World Heritage area.

The outstanding universal value of the nominated territory is primarily defined by its location in the southern macroslope system of Western Caucasus:

- Territory is the most important refugium of tertiary relicit cenosis viz. one of the largest refugiums of the entire northern hemisphere of the planet;

- Territory is located at the junction of east Mediterranean and Persian genetic centers, ­represented here are primary forms of many cultivated plants;

- Territory represents a wide variety of biomes: from semi-arid in the west to warm humid in the central and eastern parts;

- Biomes represented here are characterized by high diversity and record high number of endemic, relict and rare species, including local endemics.

Simultaneously with the expansion, it is proposed to cut out from the composition of the existing World Heritage Site a part of the territory of Lagonaki plateau (6,500 ha), which does not meet the criteria of the Outstanding universal value and integrity, due to significant anthropogenic disturbance of this territory, as a result of intensive cattle breeding in the second half of the XX century and active tourist activity.

Criterion (ix): The whole variety of the Western Caucasus ecosystems, forming the unified natural territorial complex of the southern macroslope of Western Caucasus, has been preserved at the nominated territory in pristine form. The processes of evolution and species formation taking place here have great significance not only as example of natural development, but for regeneration and preservation of such ecosystems of Eurasia.

The historic development of Earth, multitude and characteristic of physical and geographic conditions, distinctive complex of environmental factors had formed here the unique diversity of species with rich representation of relicts (primarily tertiary period) and endemics (among them many endemics of Western Caucasus).

Several local centers of evolutionary genetic form and species formation are located at the nominated area. Besides the extra abundance of rare plant species of low-mountain and piedmont areas of SNP (especially limestone massif) is to be highlighted. In order to preserve the flora species that are narrow endemic and found in the Russian Federation only at SNP territory the limestone massif of Akhtsu Range, and Achishkho Mountain, Aibga Range and Autl Mountian are of paramount importance.

High genetic differentiation of many species widely distributed here, located with the boundaries of its distribution or far from its area, and population of isolated biome, have significant evolutionary potential.

Criterion (x): The nominated area considerably supplements the diversity of bionic and species, represented at the -Western Caucasus" site. The Sochi National Park by biodiversity level does not have analogs in the Russian Federation, at the same time it represents both the basic group of organisms and ecosystems of the Greater Caucasus. The nominated area drastically expands the scope of nature-territorial complexes, practically absent in the Caucasus reserve and other territories, already included at the "Western Caucasus" site.

In the flora of vascular plants of SNP more than 2,000 aboriginal, invasive and introduced plants are registered. The flora contains many ancient Caucasian endemics and relicts. The endemic species constitute 16% of the forest flora, relict species - 17%. The highland flora numbers more than 950 species of vascular plants. The Caucasian endemics constitute 36.6%.

The fauna is represented by 335 vertebrate animal species, including: mammals - 74 species (42% ­endemics; 45% - relicts), birds - 234 (99 - nestling), reptiles - 20 (45% - endemics and relicts), amphibians - 9 (80%), fish -- 26 (37.5%), jawless animals -- 1 (100%).

The sozological significance of SNP territory is very high. Here 26 plant species and 75 animal species, included in IliCN Red hist, are preserved. From among those inhabiting at SNP territory, 54 plant species, 15 mushroom and lichen species, and 54 animal species have been included in the Russian Federation Red Book.

Preserved at Sochi National Park (photo 32) are scores of species, represented by narrow (sometimes local) endemic forms, and species, found in the territory of the Russian Federation exclusively within the boundaries of SNP. Thus only at SNP 40 types of vascular plants (tracheophytes), including 11 narrow endemic forms, are found: Daphne woronowii Kolak., Potentilla camillae Kolak., Woronowia speciosa (Albov) Juz., Genista ahchasica Sachokia, Acer sosnowskvi Doluch., Scabiosa olgae Albov, Kemulariella abc•hasica (Kem.-Nath.) Tamamsch., Dolichorrhiza correvoniana (Albov) Galushko, Centaurea barheyi (Albov) Sosn., Allium circassicum Kolak., Muscari dolychanthum Woronow & Tron.

Local and narrow endemic forms among animals comprise 31 species, and they all represent invertebrates: Eisenia transcaucasica, Belgrandiella caucasica, Geyeria valvataformis, Paladilhiopsis orientalis, Euxinolauria vitrea, Micropontica closta, Acrotoma lunievi, Khostalestes kochetkovi, Troglolestes sokolovi, Monacha claussi, Kokotschushvilia tanta, Circassina bojetiae, Pisidium cavaticum, Isophya kalishevskii, Mycterodus aspernatus, Caucasophaenops molchanovi, Caucasorites kovali, Caucasorites shchurovi, Caucasorites victori, Duvalius miroshnikovi, Cimmerites grandis, Porocimmerites mirahilis, Porocimmerites reticulates, Bembidion circassic•unr, DeItomerus kovali, DeItomerus sergeii, Deltomerus fischtensis, .S'eracamattrops kontarovi, Otiorhynchus solodovnikovi, Otiorhvnchus inaliparum, Otiorhynchus galinae.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The nominated area of the southern macroslope of Western Caucasus harmoniously supplements the existing World Heritage object, by adjoining to its southern boundaries (photo 33). At the same time, it represents the unique natural complex, whose basic components are inextricably allied, by historical destiny, dynamic natural development and includes basic elements, required for confirmation of its outstanding value on a global scale.

The nominated area, having an area of 68,354 ha, is sufficient for supporting the functioning of nature complexes of the southern macroslope of Western Caucasus and completely represents the properties and processes, reflecting its significance.

The poorly frequented, for a greater part inaccessible area for more than thirty years (individual areas for more than fifty years) has high nature conservation status of the state natural national park (its preserved and protected area) and state reservation. The nominated areas adjoin the existing World Heritage object and is practically surrounded by special protection areas that in addition increases the guarantee of their integrity.

The biophysical processes and properties of natural landscape of the nominated area are not disturbed. The area includes uninhabited and undeveloped part of the mountain ranges of the southern macroslope of Western Caucasus. Traces of human activity are absent for all practical purposes with the exception of ancient cult burial grounds. This is a complex natural area, which by its size and criterion of relictness has no match and is representative for the entire Western Caucasus (Colchis).

The nominated area represents a unique center of evolutionary formation of species, the basic reason of it being the intersection of several high-ranking biogeographic chorions. The area represents a large mountain and forest and mountain and meadow ecosystem, including the absence of World Heritage Object of the ecosystem of Eastern-submediterranean, Colchian and high-mountain and Abkhazian calciferous types.

A large number of extinct species and their communities, being live example of the past biota of entire Europe and West Asia, are present within the boundaries of the new arca. The unique natural wing-nut groves, large areas of yew and boxwood stands, extinct Pitsunda pine groves, and extinct subalpine voronovniki are effectively preserved here.

The ecosystems of the nominated area are an important habitat of a multitude of protected, endemic and extinct species; long-term conservation of the dynamic development of ecosystems and natural processes, self-regulation of the entire ecosystem spectrum of Western Caucasus is guaranteed here.

Comparison with other similar properties

The nominated area supplements the system of World Heritage Objects of Russia. By biodiversity level, it does not have analogs in the Russian Federation territory, but on the whole represents both the basic group of organisms, as well as the ecosystems of the Greater Caucasus. The area of the Sochi National Park proposed for expansion of the object "Western Caucasus» fundamentally expands the scope of nature-territorial complexes, literally absent at the Caucasus reserve and other territories, already included in the World Heritage Object "Western Caucasus".

The nature complex of Sochi National Park is unique and only one in the Caucasus and representative not only for all the main ecosystems with multitude of endemic, extinct and rare species, preserved in their primary state, but also differentiated into Eastern-Mediterranean, Colchian and Caucasus high mountain censosis.

It is important to note that for the period since 1999 (when "Western Caucasus" was nominated) no new nature World Heritage Objects in the Caucasus Region were reserved. Thus, this division as before is represented by only one UNESCO natural object viz. "Western Caucasus" in the well-known diagram of bio-geographic zoning of Udvardi (Caucaso-lranian Highlands province).