1.         Lake Baikal (Russian Federation) (N 754)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1996

Criteria  (vii)(viii)(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/754/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1990-1990)
Total amount approved: USD 15,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/754/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

July 1997: World Heritage Centre mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/754/

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1998

The Bureau may recall that the Committee, when it inscribed this property on the World Heritage List at its twentieth session (Merida, 1996), 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 last session expressed its concern regarding the inadequacy of the legal basis available for the protection of the entire World Heritage site and 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 was transmitted to the Centre on 22 April 1998. The letter received is in Russian only and the Centre has contacted the Russian Delegation to UNESCO to obtain an official translation of the letter.

Action Required

The Bureau, after reviewing the official translation of the letter from the State Party, and based on other additional information that  may be available at the time of the twenty-second session of the Bureau, may recommend appropriate actions to the consideration of the State Party and/or the Committee as well as the Centre and IUCN.


22nd extraordinary session of the Bureau in 1998:
At its twenty-second ordinary session (June 1998), the Bureau was informed that a number of laws for the national protection of the Lake existed and that the Duma had adopted the Federal Law on “The Protection of the Baikal Lake” which was, however, vetoed by the President. The Federal Law had been tabled for a third reading in the Duma, taking into account comments made by the President’s intervention. In addition to the legal concerns, the authorities had not come to any conclusions regarding the reprofiling the Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill at Baikalsk, one of the main polluters of the Lake. The Observer of the Russian Delegation attending the Bureau session in June 1998 pointed out that the situation at Lake Baikal is of major concern, due to its unresolved legal status, continuing and increasing pollution, lack of resources for management and monitoring, and logging and other negative factors. The Observer was of the view that the site is under serious threat and that the State Party would not oppose inclusion of the site in the List of World Heritage Danger.

The Bureau, expressed its serious concerns over the threats to the integrity of Lake Baikal, and urged the State Party to inform the Centre, before 15 September 1998, the status of the Baikal Law and its adoption as well as a time-table for its implementation.

The Bureau drew the attention of the Russian authorities to paragraphs 82-89 of the Operational Guidelines (“Procedure for the Inclusion of Properties in the List of World Heritage in Danger”) and invited them to prepare a programme of corrective measures for submission to its twenty-second extraordinary session. The State Party’s response to the Bureau’s concerns and recommendations is awaited.

Decision required: The Bureau, based on a review of new information that may be available at the time of its twenty-second extraordinary session, may wish to determine whether it should recommend that the Committee include the Lake Baikal in the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1998

At its twenty-second session, the Bureau was informed that a number of laws for the national protection of the Lake existed and that the Duma had adopted the Federal Law on “The Protection of the Baikal Lake” which was, however, vetoed by the President., The Federal Law had been tabled for a third reading in the Duma, taking into account comments made by the President’s intervention. In addition to the legal concerns, the authorities had not come to any conclusions regarding the re-profiling of the Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill at Baikalsk, one of the main polluters of the Lake. The Observer of the Russian Delegation attending the Bureau session in June 1998 pointed out that the situation at Lake Baikal is of major concern, due to its unresolved legal status, continuing and increasing pollution, lack of resources for management and monitoring, and logging and other negative factors. The Observer was of the view that the site is under serious threat and that the State Party would not oppose inclusion of the site in the List of World Heritage Danger.

The Bureau had expressed its serious concerns over the threats to the integrity of Lake Baikal, and urged the State Party to inform the Centre, before 15 September 1998, of the status of the Baikal Law and its adoption as well as a time-table for its implementation. The Bureau drew the attention of the Russian authorities to paragraphs 82-89 of the Operational Guidelines (“Procedure for the Inclusion of Properties in the List of World Heritage in Danger”) and invited them to prepare a programme of corrective measures for submission to its twenty-second extraordinary session.

The Bureau was informed that the State Committee for the Environment had indicated, on 17 November 1998, that the Law is currently being revised and that, according to the UNESCO Office, Moscow, the reason for the revision was the need to include financial measures to implement the Law. The revision has been done both by the Region of Irkutsk and the Buryat Republic and has been through the Duma. It is expected that the Law will be approved by the end of the year. Concerning the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill the Minister for Economy proposed an international competition to transform the mill. The State Committee however, indicated that there is no solution yet and the closing the mill would aggravate the social problems of the region. Monitoring of the site is underway, despite financial problems. IUCN informed the Bureau that it does not recommend the inclusion of Lake Baikal in the List of World Heritage in Danger at present.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 22 BUR V.B.30

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.

Decision Adopted: 22 COM VII.24/25

VII.24 Lake Baikal (Russian Federation)

At its twenty-second session, the Bureau was informed that a number of laws for the national protection of the Lake existed and that the Duma had adopted the Federal Law on "The Protection of the Baikal Lake" which was, however, vetoed by the President. The Federal Law had been tabled for a third reading in the Duma, taking into account comments made by the President's intervention. In addition to the legal concerns, the authorities had not come to any conclusions regarding the reprofiling of the Pulp and Paper Mill at Baikalsk, one of the main polluters of the Lake. The Observer of the Russian Delegation attending the Bureau session in June 1998 pointed out that the situation at Lake Baikal is of major concern, due to its unresolved legal status, continuing and increasing pollution, lack of resources for management and monitoring, and logging and other negative factors. The Observer was of the view that the site is under serious threat and that the State Party would not oppose inclusion of the site in the List of World Heritage Danger.

The Bureau had expressed its serious concerns over the threats to the integrity of Lake Baikal, and urged the State Party to inform the Centre, before 15 September 1998, of the status of the Baikal Law and its adoption as well as a time table for its implementation. The Bureau drew the attention of the Russian authorities to paragraphs 82-89 of the Operational Guidelines ("Procedure for the Inclusion of Properties in the List of World Heritage in Danger") and invited them to prepare a programme of corrective measures for submission to its twenty-second extraordinary session.

The Bureau was informed that the State Committee for the Environment had indicated, on 17 November 1998, that the Law is currently being revised and that, according to the UNESCO Office, Moscow, the reason for the revision was the need to include financial measures to implement the Law. The revision has been done both by the Region of Irkutsk and the Buryat Republic and has been through the Duma. It is expected that the Law will be approved in the near future. Concerning the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill, the Minister for Economy proposed an international competition to transform the mill. The State Committee however, indicated that there is no solution yet and the closing of the mill would aggravate the social problems of the region. Monitoring of the site is underway, despite financial problems. IUCN informed the Bureau that it does not recommend the inclusion of Lake Baikal in the List of World Heritage in Danger at present.

The Observer of the Russian Federation stated that the law is being processed and that monitoring of the state of conservation of the site is underway. He informed the Committee that a meeting of the Governmental Baikal Commission is scheduled for late December 1998. He underlined that the Russian Federation tries to fulfil its obligations under the World Heritage Convention and to protect the site.

The Committee took note of the information provided by the State Committee for the Environment and IUCN. It expressed its serious concerns about the problems of the site as indicated in the report of the twenty-second session of the Bureau. The Committee re-iterated its requests made at the time of the inscription of the site, in particular the urgent need to re-profile the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill and the adoption of the Baikal Law. The Committee noted that IUCN does not recommend inclusion of the Lake Baikal in the List of World Heritage in Danger at present.