Decision : 32 COM 8B.8
Examination of nomination of natural, mixed and cultural proprerties to the World Heritage List - Saryarka, Steppe and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan (KAZAKHSTAN)
The World Heritage Committee,
1.Having examined Documents WHC-08/32.COM/8B and WHC-08/32.COM/INF.8B2,
2. Inscribes Saryarka - Steppe and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (ix) and (x);
3. Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:
Saryarka - Steppe and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan protects substantial, largely undisturbed areas of Central Asian steppe and lakes in the Korgalzhyn and Naurzum State Nature Reserves. The property's wetland areas are of outstanding importance for migratory waterbirds, including substantial populations of globally threatened species, as they are key stopover points and crossroads on the Central Asian flyways. The property's steppe areas provide a valuable refuge for over half the species of the region's steppe flora, a number of threatened bird species and the critically endangered Saiga antelope.
Criterion (ix): Ongoing biological and ecological processes: The property contains substantial areas of steppe and lakes with largely undisturbed associated biological and ecological processes. The seasonal dynamics of the hydrology, chemistry and biology of the lakes, with the diverse flora and fauna of the wetlands have evolved through complex wetting and drying cycles, and are of global significance and scientific interest. The wetlands of Korgalzhyn and Naurzum State Nature Reserves are key stopover points and crossroads on the Central Asian migratory bird flyways and are of outstanding importance for migratory waterbirds on their way from Africa, Europe and South Asia to their breeding places in Western and Eastern Siberia. The property also contains over 200,000 ha of Central Asian steppe, more than half of which is pristine, and which is part of the temperate grassland biome.
Criterion (x): Biological diversity and threatened species: Korgalzhyn and Naurzum State Nature Reserves protect large areas of natural steppe and lake habitats that sustain a diverse range of Central Asian flora and fauna and support vast numbers of migratory birds, including substantial populations of many globally threatened species. The Korgalzhyn-Tengiz lakes provide feeding grounds for up to 15-16 million birds, including flocks of up to 2.5 million geese. They also support up to 350,000 nesting waterfowl, while the Naurzum lakes support up to 500,000 nesting waterfowl. The property's steppe areas provide a valuable refuge for over half the species of the region's steppe flora, a number of threatened bird species and the critically endangered Saiga antelope, a once abundant species much reduced across its range by poaching pressure.
The property contains high quality steppe and lake habitats that are essential for the long term conservation of the region's biological diversity and each of its two component areas is of sufficient size to maintain associated biological and ecological processes. Korgalzhyn and Naurzum State Nature Reserves have benefited from long-term legal protection as strict nature reserves. Korgalzhyn is completely surrounded by a buffer zone, while Naurzum consists of three strictly protected areas, each surrounded by a buffer zone and linked together by an ecological corridor. The reserves are complementary in their values despite the 350 km distance between them. The property and the buffer zones, which are not part of the inscribed property, are adequately demarcated in the field.
Requirements for Protection and Management
The property has effective legal protection, is currently well managed and benefits from strong support and funding from the government and international partners. An integrated management plan has been developed for the property and the government has committed human and financial resources for its effective implementation. All land in the reserves is state owned and no permanent settlements are allowed. No uses of wild animals and plants are allowed and there is limited visitor access to the property. At present there are only few visitors to the property but tourism is likely to increase in the future and needs to be well planned and managed. Another key management priority is the maintenance of the hydrological regimes on which the viability of the property's wetland ecosystems depend, in the case of Lake Tengiz primarily the inflows from the Nura River.
4.Commends the State Party and its national and international partners for their work in extending the Naurzum State Nature Reserve and also addressing the other issues raised in IUCN's evaluation of the original nomination submitted in 2002;
5. Further commends the State Party and its international partners for their initiatives to secure habitat for the critically endangered Saiga antelope, in particular through the Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative; and encourages the State Party to consider further extensions of the World Heritage property to contribute toward enhanced protection of this flagship steppe species and related steppe values;
6. Further encourages the State Party, given the extent and dynamics of the Central Asian Steppe ecosystem, to expedite planned extensions of the property including the additional area of Korgalzhyn State Nature Reserve and an upgraded Sarykopa Wildlife Reserve as they would add considerable value and increase the functional linkages of the serial property.