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Decision 40 COM 7B.97
Lake Baikal (Russian Federation) (N 754)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 38 COM 7B.76 and 39 COM 7B.22, adopted at its 38th (Doha, 2014) and 39th (Bonn, 2015) sessions respectively,
  3. Welcomes the information that according to the recent amendments to the Federal Law on Environmental Impact Reviews a federal level EIA will be required for any construction and reconstruction project within the natural region around Lake Baikal and that the Water protection zone and the Fisheries protection zone of the lake were extended;
  4. Also welcomes the confirmation that the license of the LLC “Invest-Euro-Company” for the Kholodninskoye deposit was suspended, that the application was officially withdrawn by the company, and that exploration or development of any new deposits within the Central Ecological Zone of Baikal’s natural territory is prohibited, in line with the Committee’s established position that mining and mineral exploration are incompatible with World Heritage status;
  5. Commends the State Party for its efforts to combat the wildfires that occurred in the Baikal region in 2015, but notes with concern that although the natural values of the lake were not significantly damaged, a number of protected areas around the lake appear to have been significantly affected, which could have negatively impacted the integrity of the property, and urges the State Party to assess the impacts from the fires on the Lake ecosystem, taking into account the interrelationship between the lake waters and the forests around the lake, which are included in the property;
  6. Further welcomes the information that new guidelines are being prepared for the future development of management plans for all protected areas around Lake Baikal, and encourages the State Party to build on this process in order to develop an integrated management plan for the property, which should include a fire management and prevention plan;
  7. Also notes with concern the large number of tourism infrastructure projects planned in the special economic zones “Gates of Baikal” and “Baikal Harbours”, requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre the results of the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) for each zone for review by IUCN, and reiterates its request to the State Party to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of all special economic zones within the property, in order to guide all future developments in a coherent manner consistent with the conservation of the property’s OUV, and also urges the State Party to ensure that all EIAs and the SEA include a specific assessment of impacts on OUV in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and identify alternatives that will not have negative impacts on the OUV of the property, and that the SEA takes into account cumulative impacts of all existing and proposed developments;
  8. Regrets that the State Party did not report on the development of a detailed EIA on the future use of the Baikal Paper and Pulp Mill site and its impact on the OUV of the property, as was requested its Decision 38 COM 7B.76 and reiterated in its Decision 39 COM 7B.22, and further urges the State Party to develop such an assessment as a matter of priority and to submit a copy of it to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN as soon as it is completed;
  9. Further notes with concern the recent scientific information about alarming ecological changes in Lake Baikal, including algae and cyanobacteria blooms, and also requests the State Party to develop a property-wide ecological monitoring system in order to identify the causes of such changes and the responses required to preserve the ecological integrity of the Lake;
  10. Also regrets that the State Party did not provide any information on the existing provisions and regulations for water use and management in Lake Baikal, as was requested in its Decision 39 COM 7B.22 in line with the recommendation of the 2015 Reactive Monitoring mission, notes furthermore with concern that a draft Resolution of the Government of the Russian Federation “On maximum and minimum water level of Lake Baikal” has recently been prepared which, if adopted, could have implications for the management and protection of the property and could have potential direct impacts on its OUV, and urges furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre detailed information on the current status of the proposed legislation, as well as the assessment that was used to define the proposed water levels, including an assessment of potential impacts on the OUV of the property, including on its freshwater ecosystem and biodiversity, in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and not to approve the legislation until these assessments have been reviewed by IUCN;
  11. Further regrets that the State Party of Mongolia did not provide updated information on the implementation of other recommendations of the 2015 Reactive Monitoring mission, and also reiterates its requests to the State Party of Mongolia to:
    1. Ensure that the EIA developed for the Egiin Gol Project includes assessment of potential impacts not only on the hydrology, but also on the ecological processes and biodiversity of the property, and specifically on its OUV, and to provide the full EIA report to the World Heritage Centre,
    2. Ensure that the Terms of Reference developed for the preparation of EIAs for the Shuren Hydropower Plant and the Orkhon River projects include a specific assessment of any potential impacts of the projects on the OUV and integrity of the property,
    3. Provide to the World Heritage Centre the EIAs for the Shuren Hydropower Plant and Orkhon river reservoir complex,
    4. Develop an assessment of cumulative impacts of any planned dams and reservoirs in the Selenge river basin that may have an impact on the OUV and integrity of the property and to provide this assessment to the World Heritage Centre,
    5. Not approve any of the projects until the above-mentioned EIAs and assessment of cumulative impacts have been reviewed by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN;
  12. Further reiterates its request to the States Parties of the Russian Federation and Mongolia to jointly develop a SEA for any future hydropower and water management projects which could potentially affect the property, taking into account any existing and planned projects on the territory of both countries;
  13. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2017, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017.
Decision Code
40 COM 7B.97
Conservation, Reports
Properties 1
State of conservation reports
2016 Lake Baikal
Report of the Decisions adopted during the 40th session of the World Heritage Committee (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016)
Context of Decision