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

Lake Baikal

Russian Federation
Factors affecting the property in 2013*
  • Illegal activities
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Land conversion
  • Legal framework
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Mining
  • Surface water pollution
  • Water (extraction)
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Lack of adequate management system;
  • Uncertain legal protection;
  • Pollution;
  • Illegal timber harvesting;
  • Gas and oil pipeline project across the World Heritage property (issue resolved);
  • Illegal construction on the Lake shore;
  • Illegal sale of land;
  • Tourism development
  • Lack of mechanism to control waste water discharge. 
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2013
Requests approved: 2 (from 1990-2000)
Total amount approved : 33,200 USD
Missions to the property until 2013**

1998: World Heritage Centre monitoring mission; 2001: UNESCO/IUCN reactive monitoring mission; 2005: World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission; 2011: UNESCO/IUCN Mission.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2013

On 1 February 2013, a report on the state of conservation of the property was submitted by the State Party, providing information on recent developments in relation to issues raised by the Committee.   

a)  Baikalsk Paper and Pulp Mill

The State Party provides an update of recent developments around the Baikalsk Paper and Pulp Mill (BPPM) and notes that it issued a permission for the discharge of polluting substances into the environment until 16 August 2013, in order to give time for the Commission established by the Government to prepare scenarios for the future of the plant, including its possible closure. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that this permit seems to be in contradiction to the State Party’s commitment made at the Committee’s 34th session (Brasilia, 2010) and  confirmed to the 2011 high level mission to develop and implement a closed-loop water treatment system by December 2012.

However, on 27 February 2013, the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich announced plans of the Government of the Russian Federation to gradually shut down BPPM.  The Deputy Prime Minister did not specify the timeframe for stopping operations but stated that gradual closure would be possible over a period of a few years. In a meeting on 19 March 2013 at UNESCO, the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to UNESCO and the Vice Governor of the Irkutsk province confirmed that the decision to close the plant had been taken at the highest level and that the World Heritage Centre would be informed in due course of the details of the decision, including the proposed timeline. At the time of preparation of this report, further details were not yet received. Recent media reports indicate that the facility was still operating and discharging wastewater into the lake in March 2013.   

b)  Long-term strategy for economic development of Baikalsk based on alternative sources

The State Party reports that in August 2012 the Federal Target Programme (FTP) “Protection of Lake Baikal and Social and Economic Development of the Baikal Natural Territory for 2012-2020” was approved by the Federal Government. The programme comprises actions to decrease water pollution and solid waste accumulations, including measures to deal with the industrial legacy of solid waste at BPPM, establishment of tourism carrying capacities and regulation of visitation, species conservation, fisheries management and general environmental monitoring, with an overall budget of almost $ 1.9 billion for the period 2012-2020. Its geographic focus is the entire Baikal Natural Area, not only Lake Baikal and its immediate catchment itself. In the above mentionned meeting the Vice Governor of Irkutsk stressed that following the decision to close BPPM, the programme should bring about the necessary actions to engage the Baikal region in a path of sustainable development.

c)  Development of the Kholodninskoye ore deposit

The State Party states that mineral exploration in the Central Ecological Zone of the Baikal Nature Area remains prohibited by law, but does not make an unequivocal commitment to not permit any mineral exploration or exploitation works in the future. The Word Heritage Centre and IUCN have received reports that license No. 3965\UDE 13040 TE to mine ore at the Kholodninskoye deposit remains in effect until 10 March 2025.

d)  Special Economic Zones with development of marinas and mountain skiing facilities

The State Party confirms the establishment of the “Baikal Harbour” Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the Republic of Buryatia (3,613 ha) and of an additional SEZ “Gate of Baikal” in Irkutsk Region (2,358 ha), both at least partly inside the World Heritage property. The SEZ are focused on tourism development, including mountain skiing and yachting. The report notes that basic infrastructure is being developped already in “Baikal Harbour” SEZ. The development of infrastructure in these zones complies with the Russian Federation’s legislation on the protection of Lake Baikal, and the State Party notes that they will include obligatory environmental impact assessments. However, no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports for the developments inside these SEZs have been submitted to the World Heritage Centre, despite the State Party’s statement at the Committee’s 36th session that an EIA for the “Baikal Harbour” SEZ was being conducted in February/March 2012 and would be submitted to the World Heritage Centre as soon as it was finalized.

e)  Conservation status and management of protected areas that make up the property

The State Party states that Federal Law No. 365-FZ of 30 November 2011, does not affect the protection status of the protected areas of which the World Heritage property is composed. However, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that Federal Law No. 365-FZ affects the protection status of Strict Nature Reserves that have Biosphere Polygons, which includes Barguzinskiy Strict Nature Reserve (BSNR), one of the protected areas included in the property. The State Party indeed refers to changes in the federal law which permit the development of tourism infrastructure inside the Biosphere Polygon but does not specify the exact nature or the extent of tourism infrastructure. The State Party states that these changes would not affect the level of protection of the BSNR. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note, that as the Biosphere Polygonis is located entirely within the boundaries of the property, it is necessary to provide details on the proposed developments and assess their potential impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, in line with paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.

IUCN received reports that on 8 February 2013, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation registered new Regulations on Baikalo-Lenskiy Strict Natural Reserve (BLSNR), which were developed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and allow for a number of activities that are a potential threat to the property’s Outstanding Universal Value, including “firewood and commercial timberharvesting (as part of sanitary cutting)”and the establishment of up to 15 new roads including those to be used by motorized transport (e.g. snow mobiles).

The State Party report provides useful information on the threats and management of the protected areas included in the property. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note  the currently highly fragmented management system of the property and reiterate the need for an integrated management plan and land-use planning for the property as requested by decision 36 COM 7B.22.

f)  Other conservation issues – pollution of the Selenga River and planned dam projects on one of its tributaries

The State Party reports that pollution of the Selenga river and other tributaries of Lake Baikal remains a problem. Reduced fish and gammarid stocks are observed in the Selenga and specific causes are currently under investigation. The FTP, as well as additional plans of the republic of Buryatia, includes a number of measures to reduce water pollution in the Selenga river. The State Party also mentions a transboundary UNDP/GEF project on “Integrated Natural Resource Management in the Baikal Basin Transboundary Ecosystem”, which involves the State Party of Mongolia and from which a reduction of pollution pressure on the property is expected. The State Party further notes the threat from air pollution and acid rain to the biota of the property, particularly to fir and cedar forests. Scientists have highlighted atmospheric transport of persistent organic polluters (POPs) from the southeast to the property as a potential source.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN have received reports about plans of the Government of Mongolia to construct at least one dam on the Orkhon river, a main tributary of the Selenga river, and to pump water from there into the Gobi desert. Although these plans appear to be at an early stage only, it has been estimated that discharge of the Selenga river into Lake Baikal could be reduced by up to a third as a result. The Selenga river system itself contributes approximately half of the water input into Lake Baikal. 

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2013

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome the decision of the Government of the Russian Federation to shut down the Baikalsk Paper and Pulp Mill (BPPM) but consider that the Committee should request the State Party to submit a clear timeframe and a closure plan including the measures foreseen to address the industrial legacy of the plant. They note that currently BPPM continues to operate without such a system and therefore consider that the closure should happen as soon as possible. They recall the Committee’s position that the continued operation of BPPM without adequate measures in place to address the considerable negative environmental impact represents a clear ascertained danger to the property’s Outstanding Universal Value in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines (Decision 36 COM 7B.22).

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that any plan of the Government of Mongolia to construct a dam on a main tributary of the Selenga River, which provides half of the water supply to Lake Baikal could affect the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, and recommend that the Committee request the two State Parties – the Russian Federation and Mongolia - to provide detailed information on the planned developments as well as on the environmental impact assessments which are foreseen to quantify these potential impacts.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome the confirmation that mineral exploration remains prohibited in the Central Ecological Zone of the Baikal Nature Area but note that the license for the mining of ore at the Kholodninskoye deposit remains in effect until March 2025, and recall the Committee’s established position that mining is incompatible with World Heritage status.

They note the numerous other conservation challenges including on-going and planned developments in the “Baikal Harbour” and “Gate of Baikal” Special Economic Zones;  changes to federal legislation that permit development of tourism infrastructure in Barguzinskiy Strict Nature Reserve Biosphere Polygon; reported changes in the regulations in Baikalo-Lenskiy Strict Nature Reserve; pollution of the Selenga river and air pollution. They also recall the recommendation of the 2011 monitoring mission to develop an integrated management plan and land use plan for the property that fully considers all proposed projects, including those inside the Special Economic Zones “Baikal Harbour” and “Gate of Baikal”, in order to ensure that they are implemented in a way that is compatible with the Outstanding Universal Value and conditions of integrity of the property. They also recall that the potential impact of these developments on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property should be assessed before a decision is taken to proceed, in line with paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2013
37 COM 7B.22
Lake Baikal (Russian Federation) (N754)

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined  Document WHC-13/37.COM/7B.Add,

2.  Recalling Decision 36 COM 7B.22 , adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),

3.  Welcomes the State Party’s decision to close down the Baikalsk Paper and Pulp Mill (BPPM), as well as the brief outline of a closure plan and timeframe which was submitted to the World Heritage Centre including the measures foreseen to address the industrial legacy of the plant;

4.  Urges the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014 , a detailed closure plan with a precise timeframe;

5.  Requests the State Party to ensure that any plans for the future use of the BPPM site are subject to rigorous Environmental Impact Assessment, including specific assessment of potential direct, indirect and cumulative impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, and to submit the results of such assessments to the World Heritage Centre in line with paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines ;

6.  Notes with concern the potential impacts on the property from the planned construction of a dam on the Orkhon river in Mongolia and also requests the State Parties of the Russian Federation and Mongolia to provide more information on the status of these plans as well as on the environmental impact assessments which are foreseen to quantify these potential impacts, in line with paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines ;

7.  Welcomes the confirmation that mineral exploration remains prohibited in the Central Ecological Zone of the Baikal Nature Area but notes with concern that the license for the mining of ore at the Kholodninskoye deposit remains in effect until March 2025;

8.  Reiterates that mining is incompatible with World Heritage status, and also urges the State Party to cancel the mining license;

9.  Expresses its concern on a number of important existing and potential threats to the property in particular on-going and planned developments in the “Baikal Harbour” and “Gate of Baikal” Special Economic Zones, changes to federal legislation that permit development of tourism infrastructure in Barguzinskiy Strict Nature Reserve Biosphere Polygon; reported changes in the regulations in Baikalo-Lenskiy Strict Nature Reserve; pollution of the Selenga river and air pollution;

10.  Reiterates its request to the State Party to develop, under the umbrella of the Special Law for Baikal, an integrated management plan and land-use plan for the property that fully considers all proposed projects, including those inside the Special Economic Zones “Baikal Harbour” and “Gate of Baikal”, to ensure that they are implemented in a way that is compatible with the Outstanding Universal Value and conditions of integrity of the property;

11.  Further urges the State Party to assess the potential impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property of  the  above mentioned projects through an Environmental Impact Assessment and submit the results to the World Heritage Centre before a decision is taken to proceed, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines ;

12.  Further r equests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014 , an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, including a detailed report of progress achieved with the implementation of the closure plan for the BPPM, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014.

Draft Decision:   37 COM 7B.22

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/7B.Add,

2.  Recalling Decision 36 COM 7B.22, adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),

3.  Welcomes the State Party’s decision to close down the Baikalsk Paper and Pulp Mill (BPPM), and urges the State Party to close it as soon as possible and submit a clear timeframe and a closure plan including the measures foreseen to address the industrial legacy of the plant;

4.  Reiterates its position that the continued operation of BPPM without adequate measures in place to address the considerable negative environmental impacts would represent a clear ascertained danger to the property’s Outstanding Universal Value in line with paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines;

5.  Notes with concern the potential impacts on the property from the planned construction of a dam on the Orkhon river in Mongolia and requests the State Parties of the Russian Federation and Mongolia to provide more information on the status of these plans as well as on the environmental impact assessments which are foreseen to quantify these potential impacts, in line with paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;

6.  Welcomes the confirmation that mineral exploration remains prohibited in the Central Ecological Zone of the Baikal Nature Area but notes with concern that the license for the mining of ore at the Kholodninskoye deposit remains in effect until March 2025;

7.  Reiterates that mining is incompatible with World Heritage status, and urges the State Party to cancel the mining license;

8.  Expresses its concern on a number of important existing and potential threats to the property in particular on-going and planned developments in the “Baikal Harbour” and “Gate of Baikal” Special Economic Zones, changes to federal legislation that permit development of tourism infrastructure in Barguzinskiy Strict Nature Reserve Biosphere Polygon; reported changes in the regulations in Baikalo-Lenskiy Strict Nature Reserve; pollution of the Selenga river and air pollution;

9.  Reiterates its request to the State Party to develop, under the umbrella of the Special Law for Baikal, an integrated management plan and land-use plan for the property that fully considers all proposed projects, including those inside the Special Economic Zones “Baikal Harbour” and “Gate of Baikal”, to ensure that they are implemented in a way that is compatible with the Outstanding Universal Value and conditions of integrity of the property;

10.  Also urges the State Party to asses the potential impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property of the above mentioned projects through an Environmental Impact assessment and submit the results to the World Heritage Centre before a decision is taken to proceed, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;

11.  Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014, 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 38th session in 2014.

 

Report year: 2013
Russian Federation
Date of Inscription: 1996
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(ix)(x)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 37COM (2013)
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