Take advantage of the search to browse through the World Heritage Centre information.

Lake Baikal

Russian Federation
Factors affecting the property in 2006*
  • Illegal activities
  • Major linear utilities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Surface water pollution
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Pollution;

b) Illegal timber harvesting; gas and oil pipeline;

c) Lack of adequate management regime.

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2006
Requests approved: 2 (from 1990-2000)
Total amount approved : 33,200 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2006

Following previous World Heritage Committee discussions on the state of conservation of this property and, prompted by reports that works on a new oil pipeline started in May 2004 within the boundaries of the property, the World Heritage Committee at its 29th session (Durban, South Africa) requested a new monitoring mission to the property. Accordingly the mission took place from 21 to 31 October 2005 following an official invitation from the State Party (the full report from the mission is available at https://whc.unesco.org/archive/2006).

The mission noted with satisfaction that important progress has been made by the State Party to address a number of concerns. In particular these include the setting up of basic monitoring mechanisms; efforts to agree with the Government of Mongolia on acceptable pollution standards for the Selenga River, efforts to modernize sewage treatment systems in the watershed, the preparation of a management plan; and preparatory work to define the boundaries of the Central Ecological Zone and to re-instate the Baikal Commission. The mission noted that on a number of critical issues (such as the determination of the Central Ecological Zone) the necessary technical preparatory work is finalized but that the necessary approval by the Government has not yet happened.

The mission noted the lack of progress on a number of other key conservation and management issues (as previously identified by the 2001 reactive monitoring mission) upon which a number of key conservation and management regulations depend, as well as a delay in the implementation of the re-conversion plan for the Baikalski Pulp and Paper Mill which should lead to achieving a closed water circuit system by 2007. The mission further noted, with strong concern, that the route proposed by the Russian oil company Transneft for the Trans-Siberian pipeline within the boundaries of the World Heritage property crossing areas of high accident risk. Furthermore a part of this route was proposed in the immediate vicinity (800 meters) of Lake Baikal’s shoreline. Thus, this planned development represented a significant potential threat to the outstanding universal value and integrity of the property. Soon after the mission the oil pipeline route proposed by Transneft to cross the World Heritage property was subject to the State Ecological Expertise (EIA) as required under the existing Federal Law. This assessment was prepared by a Committee of 52 state experts appointed by the Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Atomic Supervision (ROSTECHNADZOR). On 24 January 2006 an overwhelming majority of 43 out of the 52 experts forming this Committee voted against this proposal.

However, on 7 February 2006 both UNESCO and IUCN were informed that the Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Atomic Supervision decided not to approve the recommendation of the Committee but rather to extend the period for the State Ecological Expertise (EIA) and to add additional members to the Committee. This extended Committee decided on 1 March 2006 to approve the proposal and a positive EIA statement was signed on 3 March 2006 by the Head of Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Atomic Supervision. Following the approval of this project the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee wrote on 10 March 2006 to the President of the Russian Federation expressing her great concern at this development and requesting the re-examination of the proposed routing of the pipeline taking into account the World Heritage status of Lake Baikal.

The Director General of UNESCO sent a letter dated 29 March 2006 to the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation expressing his deep concern about the impacts of the pipeline which constitutes a potential and substantive threat to the outstanding universal value of the World Heritage property.

The routing decision has also generated a lot of protest from civil society in Russia as well as national and international environmental NGOs. It is reported that on 18 March 2006 over 5,000 people attended a rally in the Siberian City of Irkutsk to protest the approval of the route that would run the oil pipeline near the World Heritage property. According to the Moscow Times (20 March 2006), the Irkutsk Governor warned that it was impossible to rule out an oil spill in Lake Baikal and that the consequences of such an occurrence would be irreversible. At the same time information received from a number of media and NGO sources indicated that the Russian Government would go ahead with the construction of the first section of the pipeline, which would be transporting oil to Asian markets, and would be completed by the end of 2008.

The State Party submitted a report dated 31/01/06 on the state of conservation on Lake Baikal; however the report omits to inform on the final decision approving the pipeline route crossing the World Heritage property. It also failed to provide updated information on the programme to construct a closed wastewater cycle to decrease the pollution associated with the Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill. Other sectionsof the State Party report included much of the same information provided in 2005 with no further details on new developments.

Furthermore, the Centre sent a letter to the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to UNESCO dated 30 March 2006 requesting the official decision and statement by the authorities concerning the routing of the pipeline. In addition a meeting was organized between the Chairperson of the Committee, the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to UNESCO, the Director of the Centre and his staff and the Chair of the Russian World Heritage Committee on 12 April 2006 at UNESCO Headquarters to review the situation. The Ambassador informed the meeting that responses to the letters were under preparation in Moscow.

On 26 April 2006 the President of the Russian Federation, publicly announced in Tomsk his firm decision of re-routing the Trans-Siberian pipeline as to ensure the protection of Lake Baikal. Following this important statement the Director General of UNESCO received a letter on 29 May 2006 from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation dated 10 May 2006 in reply to his letter of 29 March and replying to the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee. The letter stressed the importance of the preservation of the World Heritage properties and that an in-depth study of the pipeline in the vicinity of the property of Lake Baikal was implemented. As a result, a new pipeline routing is being developed, “which would pass at a considerable distance to the north of Lake Baikal (from 250km to 450 km) to eliminate all risks of ecological damage”. Furthermore, it stated that a wide range of measures on the conservation of Lake Baikal have been carried out and that therefore there would be no ground to include the property in the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2006
30 COM 7B.18
State of Conservation (Lake Baikal)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-06/30.COM/7B.Add,

2. Recalling its Decisions 28 COM 15B.22 and 29 COM 7B.19, adopted at its 28th (Suzhou 2004) and 29th (Durban 2005) sessions respectively,

3. Commends the State Party for the progress achieved in setting up a basic monitoring programme, its efforts to agree with the Government of Mongolia on acceptable pollution standards for the Selenga River, its efforts to modernize sewage treatment systems in the watershed, the preparation of a management plan for the property and preparatory work implemented to define the boundaries of the Central Ecological Zone of Lake Baikal;

4. Notes with satisfaction the confirmed re-routing of the Trans-Siberian oil pipeline at a distance of 250 to 450km from the lake and outside of the boundaries of the World Heritage property, as recommended by the joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN monitoring mission of October 2005 and commends the State Party for this courageous decision;

5. Urges the State Party to increase its efforts on implementing the other recommendations of the 2005 joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN mission, in particular the urgent approval by the Government of the proposed Central Ecological Zone of Lake Baikal, the re-establishment of the Baikal Commission, and the implementation of the re-conversion plan for the Baikalski Pulp and Paper Mill which should lead to achieving a closed water circuit system by 2007;

6. Requests the States Party to provide the World Heritage Centre a detailed report by 1 February 2007 on the state of conservation of the property and further progress made in implementing the recommendations of the joint 2005 World Heritage Centre/IUCN mission for examination by the Committee at its 31st session in 2007.

Draft Decision: 30 COM 7B.18

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-06/30.COM/7B.Add,

2. Recalling its Decisions 28 COM 15B.22 and 29 COM 7B.19, adopted at its 28th (Suzhou 2004) and 29th (Durban 2005) sessions respectively,

3. Commends the State Party for the progress achieved in setting up a basic monitoring programme, its efforts to agree with the Government of Mongolia on acceptable pollution standards for the Selenga River, its efforts to modernize sewage treatment systems in the watershed, the preparation of a management plan for the property and preparatory work implemented to define the boundaries of the Central Ecological Zone of Lake Baikal;

4. Notes with satisfaction the confirmed re-routing of the Trans-Siberian oil pipeline at a distance of 250 to 450km from the lake and outside of the boundaries of the World Heritage property, as recommended by the joint UNESCO/IUCN monitoring mission of October 2005 and commends the State Party for this courageous decision;

5. Urges the State Party to increase its efforts on implementing the other recommendations of the 2005 joint UNESCO/IUCN mission, in particular the urgent approval by the Government of the proposed Central Ecological Zone of Lake Baikal, the re-establishment of the Baikal Commission, and the implementation of the re-conversion plan for the Baikalski Pulp and Paper Mill which should lead to achieving a closed water circuit system by 2007;

6. Requests the States Party to provide the World Heritage Centre a detailed report by 1 February 2007 on the state of conservation of the property and further progress made in implementing the recommendations of the joint 2005 UNESCO/IUCN mission for examination by the Committee at its 31st session in 2007.

Report year: 2006
Russian Federation
Date of Inscription: 1996
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(ix)(x)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 30COM (2006)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


top