Decision : CONF 201 V.B.30
Lake Baikal (Russian Federation)
The Bureau recalled that the Committee, when it inscribed this property on the World Heritage List at its twentieth session, noted that the Special Lake Baikal Law was in its second reading in the Duma, and expressed its concern over a number of integrity issues, including pollution of the Lake. The Bureau, at its twenty-first extraordinary session, expressed its concern regarding the inadequacy of the legal basis available for the protection of the entire World Heritage site. It requested the Russian authorities to provide, before 1 May 1998, detailed information on the status of the Special Lake Baikal Law, and the legal status of forests located adjacent to the boundaries of the World Heritage site.
A letter from the Deputy Minister for Natural Resources of the Russian Federation stated that a number of laws on the national protection of the Lake existed and indicated that the Duma had adopted the Federal Law on “The Protection of the Baikal Lake” which was, however, vetoed by the President. It is currently in its third reading in the Duma, taking into account comments made by the President’s intervention. IUCN informed the Bureau that in addition to the concerns over the protection of the site, the open question of reprofiling the Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill at Baikalsk, which is one of the main polluters, remains and that the authorities have not come to a conclusion on this issue.
The Observer of Russia indicated that the situation at Lake Baikal is of major concern, mainly because of: (1) the status of the proposed Baikal Law; (2) continuing pollution of the Lake by the Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill; (3) increasing pollution at the Selenka River; (4) lack of resources for the protected area and national park management; (5) lack of resources for monitoring and (6) other negative factors such as logging. He concluded that the site is under serious threat and that the State Party would not oppose inclusion on the List of World Heritage Danger.
The Bureau noted the report and expressed serious concerns over the threats to the integrity of Lake Baikal. It urged the State Party to inform the Centre by 15 September 1998 on the status of the Baikal Law and its adoption as well as a time-table for its implementation. It furthermore requested the State Party to consider paragraphs 82-89 “Procedure for the Inclusion of Properties in the List of World Heritage in Danger” of the Operational Guidelines and to prepare a programme for corrective measures to be brought to the attention of the twenty-second extraordinary session of the Bureau.