1.         Natural System of Wrangel Island Reserve (Russian Federation) (N 1023rev)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2004

Criteria  (ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1023/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1023/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Lack of Management Plan 

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1023/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2012

On 10 February 2012, a report on the state of conservation of the property was submitted by the State Party. The report describes monitoring activities at the property and gives a general overview of zoological surveys and research during 2010/2011. General observations on vegetation cover and watercourses, a list of historical objects within the reserve territory that are being monitored and an update on waste removal activities and infrastructure renewal/development during this period are also included in the report.

a) Monitoring

The State Party reports a 20% increase in the inspectorate staff and lists various monitoring activities on the island, but no monitoring results. The State Party notes that 15 animal species were surveyed during 2010-2011, and that scientific research on 11 species of animals was conducted. The State Party further reports that no damage of tundra vegetation as a result of thawing of permafrost soils was observed in 2011, and notes that monitoring of watercourses in relation to climate change impacts has commenced. The State Party concludes that the ecosystems and biota of the property have maintained their state of preservation since inscription and that no negative impacts of climate change on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property are currently apparent.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that it is not entirely clear from which indicators, monitoring schedules and methodologies the conclusion of the State Party has been derived, particularly as no monitoring results have been provided. It is also not clear whether the monitoring and research activities reported by the State Party are carried out within an effective monitoring framework, including for potential climate change impacts on the property. Further monitoring of the conservation state of the ecosystems and biota of the property should be be based on a systematically planned, broad monitoring system that considers the potential climate change impacts on the property.

b) Management Plan

The State Party mentions that a 2008-2012 Management Plan for the property has been developed, but it is not clear if this is referring to the same Management Plan which was submitted as part of the 2009 State Party report (Wrangel Island Nature Reserve Mid Term Management Plan 2009 – 2013). The report also does not provide further information about its endorsement, implementation and financing.

c) Waste removal

The State Party reports that an unspecified amount of additional funding was allocated to the property, to support the removal of waste accumulated on the island. Empty fuel barrels have been warehoused, pressed, and shipped from the island. Residuals of fuels and lubricants have also being removed, and three old buildings have been dismantled. The State Party plans to continue these activities in 2012-2013. 

d) Infrastructure renewal and development

The State Party reports that guest houses for educational and scientific tourism are being installed on the property. According to its website, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Russian Federation plans to develop further tourism infrastructure (including trails) and increase visitation to the island.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that while the development of scientific and educational tourism at the property offers considerable potential benefits, the particular sensitivity of the tundra ecosystem and the location of the property near the margin of the distribution range of many of its biota require a cautious approach to tourism development. They consider that any proposals for major up scaling of tourism facilities within the property should be preceded by the completion and approval of a comprehensive environmental impact assessment (EIA), which pays particular attention to the potential impact of tourism on the property’s OUV. They recall that the Committee at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009) encouraged the State Party to further develop and implement an effective plan for public use within the property, and they consider that such a plan should provide a clear management framework for tourism development at the property. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome the increase in inspectorate staff, the monitoring and research activities, and the on-going waste removal at the property. The observations of the State Party in 2010/2011 suggest that there are currently no major negative impacts of climate change or other factors on the property. However, no information about the ministerial endorsement and financing of the property’s Management Plan or about the establishment of a monitoring system that pays particular attention to potential climate change impacts, as requested by the Committee at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009) has been provided. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that a systematically planned and well-resourced monitoring system, which pays particular attention to potential climate change impacts, remains an important prerequisite for the long-term protection of the OUV of the property, and would also be of considerable general scientific interest.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that the potential environmental impact of the planned up scaling of tourism facilities on the island requires careful study and recommend that the Committee request the State Party to carry out an environmental impact assessment for the upgrading of tourism infrastructure and activities within the property, as well as urge the State Party to develop a tourism Management Plan for the property. 

Decision Adopted: 36 COM 7B.20

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B,

2.  Recalling Decision 33 COM 7B.30, adopted at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009),

3.  Welcomes the efforts of the State Party to increase inspection, monitoring and waste removal from the property;

4.  Reiterates its request to the State Party to ensure that ministerial approval and adequate finance are in place for the implementation of the Management Plan and to establish an effective monitoring system that considers potential climate change impacts on the property;

5.  Notes the plans to develop further tourism infrastructure and increase visitation to the island and urges the State Party to develop and implement an effective plan for tourism use within the property and, taking into account the particular sensitivity of the tundra ecosystem, to conduct an environmental impact assessment for the planned upgrading of tourism facilities, and submit it to the World Heritage Centre;

6.  Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2013, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property, including the ministerial approval and provision of adequate and increased financing of the Management Plan, the establishment of an effective monitoring system that pays attention to possible climate change impacts on the property, copies of the tourism Management Plan and the  environmental impact assessment for the upgrading of tourism facilities within the property.