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Virgin Komi Forests

Russian Federation
Factors affecting the property in 1998*
  • Mining
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Gold mine project
International Assistance: requests for the property until 1998
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 1998**
Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1998

The Bureau at its last session expressed its serious concern about the proposed gold mining project in the World Heritage site and requested the Russian authorities to provide, before 1 May 1998, detailed information on the proposal, including any environmental impact studies that may have been carried out. In addition, the Bureau requested the Russian authorities to keep the relevant authorities in the Komi Republic fully informed of the Bureau's concerns and involve them in discussions aimed at ensuring the integrity 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.

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-first extraordinary session (November 1997), the Bureau had expressed its serious concerns over a proposed gold mining project in this site and requested detailed information on the project, including any environmental impact studies that may have been carried out. At its last session (June 1998), the Bureau noted that letters from different Federal and State Level authorities seem to imply that changes to the boundaries of the World Heritage site were under consideration and that the goldmining project may have been suspended. Hence, the Bureau urged the State Party to provide to the Centre, before 15 September 1998, full information on any proposal to change the borders of the site, and confirm whether the gold mining project had been withdrawn.

IUCN has informed the Centre that following a Federal Government inspection of the site in the context of the proposed gold mining activities, the local authorities were ordered to cancel all activities related to mining. However, the Government of the Komi Republic is taking legal action against this Federal Government Order and the Duma is in the process of considering a law, despite objections from the State Committee on Ecology, which would allow mining in Russia’s national parks.

Decision required: The Bureau may wish to adopt the following text and transmit it to the Committee for noting: 
“The Bureau encourages the Government of the Russian Federation to reconsider the issue of mining in national parks, especially in relation to World Heritage sites. Furthermore, the Bureau requests the Centre and IUCN to contact the authorities in the Komi Republic to discuss mining and boundary issues relevant to the Virgin Komi Forests.”

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1998

At its twenty-first extraordinary session, the Bureau had expressed its serious concerns over a proposed gold mining project in this site and requested detailed information on the project, including any environmental impact studies that may have been carried out. At its twenty-second session, the Bureau noted that letters from different Federal and State Level authorities seem to imply that changes to the boundaries of the World Heritage site were under consideration and that the gold mining project may have been suspended. Hence, the Bureau urged the State Party to provide to the Centre, full information on any proposal to change the borders of the site, and confirm whether the gold mining project had been withdrawn. IUCN has informed the Centre that following a Federal Government inspection of the site in the context of the proposed gold mining activities, the local authorities were ordered to cancel all activities related to mining. However, the Government of the Komi Republic is taking legal action against this Federal Government Order and the Duma is in the process of considering a law, despite objections from the State Committee on Ecology, which would allow mining in Russia’s national parks.

The Russian State Committee for the Environment informed the Centre on 17 November 1998 that the site is under regular inspections from the State Committee and that the last inspection was carried out in June/July 1998. It revealed violations of the national legislation by enterprises specialised in gold mining on the site. All companies were given orders to suspend their illegal activities. The administration of the Yugyd Va National Park was obliged to register all affected lands and to prepare a land re-cultivation programme. IUCN informed the Bureau that WWF is carrying out a five Million Swiss Franc project for the conservation of the site.

The Bureau commended the Russian authorities on the actions taken to halt the mining activities at Virgin Komi Forests, and WWF for initiating a conservation project. The Bureau invited the State Party to provide a report on the rehabilitation of impacted areas. Furthermore, the Bureau requested the Centre and IUCN to contact the authorities in the Komi Republic to discuss any boundary issues relevant to the Virgin Komi Forests.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 1998
22 BUR V.B.31
Virgin Komi Forests (Russian Federation)

The Bureau at its twenty-first session expressed its serious concern about the proposed gold mining project in the World Heritage site and requested the Russian authorities to provide, before 1 May 1998, detailed information on the proposal, including any environmental impact studies that may have been carried out. In addition, the Bureau requested the Russian authorities to keep the relevant authorities in the Komi Republic fully informed of the Bureau's concerns and involve them in discussions aimed at ensuring the integrity of the World Heritage site. A letter from the Deputy Minister for Natural Resources of the Russian Federation stated that a project for the change of boundaries of the site has been submitted for ecological examination. It is also stated that the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Komi Republic “deprived the TERRA company of its rights to produce gold this year”. In addition, a letter of 27 May 1998 from the Deputy Chair of the Russian State Committee for Environmental Protection, indicated that “the realisation of the gold mining project in the World Heritage site has been suspended”.

The Bureau urged the State Party to provide full information on the proposal to change the borders of the site, whether a withdrawal from any mining proposals occurred, and of any potential gold mining projects by 15 September 1998. The Bureau invited the State Party to undertake all necessary measures to fully inform the authorities of the Komi Republic of the status of the site.

22 COM VII.27
Reports on the State of Conservation of Natural Properties Noted by the Committee

VII.27 The Committee noted the decisions of the twenty-second extraordinary session of the Bureau as reflected in the Report of the Bureau session (Working Document WHC-98/CONF.203/5) and included in Annex IV on the following properties:

  • Heard and McDonald Islands (Australia)
  • Shark Bay, Western Australia (Australia)
  • Wet Tropics of Queensland (Australia)
  • Belovezhskaya Pushcha/Bialowieza Forest (Belarus/Poland)
  • Iguacu National Park (Brazil)
  • Dja Faunal Reserve (Cameroon)
  • Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks (Canada)
  • Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area (China)
  • Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area (China)
  • Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area (China)
  • Los Katios National Park (Colombia)
  • Morne Trois Pitons National Park (Dominica)
  • Nanda Devi National Park (India)
  • Whale Sanctuary of El Viscaino (Mexico)
  • Royal Chitwan National Park (Nepal)
  • Sagarmatha National Park (Nepal)
  • Arabian Oryx Sanctuary (Oman)
  • Huascaran National Park (Peru)

The Committee noted that the Bureau's decision reflected the suggestion to establish an informal contact group on mining and World Heritage and that the IUCN "Draft Policy on Mining and Protected Areas" will be circulated.

  • Kamchatka Volcanoes (Russian Federation)
  • Virgin Komi Forests (Russian Federation)
  • Skocjan Caves (Slovenia)
  • Thung Yai-Huay Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries (Thailand)
  • St. Kilda (United Kingdom)
  • Ha Long Bay (Vietnam)
  • Durmitor National Park (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)

The Committee noted the UN official name for the State Party: Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

  • Mosi-oa-Tunya/Victoria Falls (Zambia/Zimbabwe)

No draft Decision

Report year: 1998
Russian Federation
Date of Inscription: 1995
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(ix)
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.


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