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

Lake Baikal

Russian Federation
Factors affecting the property in 1999*
  • Financial resources
  • Forestry /wood production
  • Surface water pollution
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Pollution of the Lake
  • Questions about the legal status of some parts along the border of the site (issue resolved)
  • Lack of resources
International Assistance: requests for the property until 1999
Requests approved: 1 (from 1990-1990)
Total amount approved : 15,000 USD
Missions to the property until 1999**

July 1997: World Heritage Centre mission

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1999

Summary of previous deliberations: At its twenty-second 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. The Russian 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 was of the view that the unresolved legal status, continuing and increasing pollution, lack of resources for management and monitoring, and logging and other negative factors seriously threatened Lake Baikal. He was of the view that the State Party would not oppose the site’s declaration as World Heritage in 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, of the status of the Baikal Law and its adoption, and a timetable 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 (November 1999).

In November 1998, the Bureau was informed that the Baikal Law was being revised due to the need to include financial measures to implement the Law. Both the Region of Irkutsk and the Buryat Republic were contributing to the revision of the Law and the revised draft was due to be approved by the Duma by end of 1999. The Minister for Economy had proposed that international bids might have to be called for transforming the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill. However, no solution had been finalised yet and closing the mill would aggravate the social problems of the region. Despite financial problems monitoring of the site was underway. 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 Committee, at its last session (Kyoto, 1998) noted the Bureau’s deliberations and recommendations on Lake Baikal described above. It expressed its serious concerns about the problems facing the site and re-iterated its requests made at the time of the inscription of the site, particularly the urgent need to re-profile the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill and adopt the Baikal Law.

New information: The revised draft of the Baikal Law was adopted by the State Duma in mid-March 1999 in its second reading and experts believe that there is a good chance that it will be fully adopted during the first half 1999. IUCN has commended the efforts of the Russian authorities but is concerned by unconfirmed reports suggesting that a number of important provisions essential for the conservation of the site have been removed from the latest version of the Law. IUCN will withhold its final assessment of the effectiveness of the Law until such time when it has had the opportunity to review the full text of the Law. One of the issues which is of concern to IUCN is the financial resources to implement the Law. In this regard IUCN supports the creation of a special fund for Lake Baikal which could be used solely for the management of this site. There must be a clear mechanism for accountability and effective management of such a fund. The pollution of the Lake, particularly by two pulp and paper mills operating in close proximity to the site, remains a continuing concern. A recent British-Russian study argues that the level of pollution in the Baikal region has been exaggerated; however, Greenpeace has cited strong scientific evidence that the toxic effluents emitted from the pulp and paper mills caused mass deaths of freshwater seals in 1987 and 1997. The UNESCO Office in Moscow convened a small workshop in March 1999 to review the draft of the Baikal Law. It has informed the Centre that it will hold a similar workshop on the subject of re-profiling the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill in July 1999.

Action Required

The Bureau may wish to reiterate its concerns over the threats to the integrity of Lake Baikal. While complimenting the State Party on its efforts to adopt the Baikal Law, the Bureau may wish to emphasise that the State Party expedites the process to adopt the Law with all the legal provisions essential for the effective conservation and management of Lake Baikal. The Bureau may wish to request the State Party to give particular consideration to the legal, financial and other prerequisites needed for re-profiling the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill and other enterprises that continue to pollute Lake Baikal. The Bureau may wish to invite the State Party to provide a detailed report, by 15 September 1999, on measures implemented to mitigate the pollution threats to Lake Baikal.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1999

Previous deliberations:

Twenty-second session of the Committee – Chapter VII.24;

Twenty-third ordinary session of the Bureau – Chapter IV.38.

 

New information: In April 1999, the State Duma of the Russian Federation adopted the law on the Lake Baikal.  However, this is a framework law and it requires several other legal acts to be adopted.  The efforts of the Russian authorities in developing this law are to be commended but it is important that the law be implemented as quickly as possible and also that adequate resources are made available to ensure its effective implementation.  IUCN notes the on-going concerns associated with pollution of Lake Baikal from pulp mills operating in close proximity to the site.  Recent reports from Greenpeace are also noted, in relation to the lawsuit by the State Bodies for Environmental Protection in relation to the “suspension of ecologically harmful activities of the Baikalsky Pulp and Paper Plant (BP&PP)”.  The Irkutsk Court noted the impact of the BP&PP but ruled that the “lawsuit is void”.  One of the reasons for the verdict was that without new jobs created in the region the pulp production in Baikalsk could not be shut down because it would result in social crisis in the region.  It is understood that a new draft governmental decree on suspension of pulp production has not been supported by the regional authorities and that a “concept of social and economic development of the City of Baikalsk and conversion of the BP&PP” is now being elaborated.  IUCN notes there has been a large number of World Heritage monitoring and training missions to Lake Baikal (1993, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999) and before recommending another mission there is a need to carefully assess findings and recommendations from these past missions.

The economic difficulties in this region are noted and it is considered that there is a need to identify and examine innovative options and solutions to this issue, specifically in relation to the legal, financial and other requirements associated with re-profiling of the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill.  Discussion of such options and solutions should address environmental, social and economic concerns and should involve donors and should ideally be addressed under the umbrella of the Baikal Commission. IUCN also notes that the Workshop on Lake Baikal, supported by the World Heritage Committee, was successfully implemented and that this has enhanced capacity building for managers at the Baikal World Heritage site.

No further information was received by the State Party at the time of the preparation of this document.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 1999
23 BUR IV.B.38
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. The Russian 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 was of the view that the unresolved legal status, continuing and increasing pollution, lack of resources for management and monitoring, and logging and other negative factors seriously threatened Lake Baikal. He was of the view that the State Party would not oppose the site’s declaration as World Heritage in Danger.

At its twenty-second extraordinary session in November 1998, the Bureau was informed that the Baikal Law was being revised due to the need to include financial measures to implement the Law. Both the Region of Irkutsk and the Buryat Republic were contributing to the revision of the Law and the revised draft was due to be approved by the Duma by the end of 1999. The Minister for Economy had proposed that international bids might have to be called for transforming the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill. However, no solution had been finalised yet and closing the mill would aggravate the social problems of the region. Despite financial problems monitoring of the site was underway. 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 Committee, at its last session noted the Bureau’s deliberations and recommendations on Lake Baikal described above. It expressed its serious concerns about the problems facing the site and reiterated its requests made at the time of the inscription of the site, particularly the urgent need to re-profile the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill and adopt the Baikal Law.

The Bureau noted that the UNESCO Office Moscow, in consultation with the Centre and the Division for Ecological Sciences, organized on 9 March 1999 a workshop on the Baikal Law. Meanwhile, the Law was passed by the Duma, has been signed by the President of the Russian Federation and entered into force with its publication beginning May 1999. The Governmental Baikal Commission held an extraordinary meeting on 13 May 1999 to decide on next steps to be taken to implement the law. At the same occasion, the Commission made the request to the Federal Government that the Director of the UNESCO Moscow Office becomes a member of the Commission, referring to the World Heritage status of Lake Baikal.  The UNESCO Moscow Office informed the Centre that the 14th session of the Baikal Commission met on 28 June 1999 with 28 representatives from regional authorities, scientific institutions and NGOs. The Commission discussed (a) threats to the Baikal ecosystem in relation to the law; (b) the water level of the lake and (c) the GEF Biodiversity project. The item of the Pulp and Paper Mill was postponed to await a report ordered by the Irkutsk region. The Centre has received information from Greenpeace, that the “Irkutsk administration is trying to reduce the area of Baikal National Park”. This proposed reduction would be 110,000 ha, which would be 25% of this portion of the site.

IUCN commended the adoption of the Baikal Law by the Duma and the President of the Russia Federation. However, IUCN raised concerns that some important conservation issues are not contained in the latest version. IUCN noted the need for a clearer focus on what are prohibited or reduced activities.  IUCN welcomed the special fund for Lake Baikal and the need to allocate funds for the management of the site. IUCN continued to be concerned about impacts of the pulp and paper mill operating in proximity of the site and noted that it should be reprofiled. Recent reports on a proposed reduction of the total area of the World Heritage site should be verified.

The Observer of Finland informed the Bureau, that contrary to some reports from NGOs, the Paper Mill is not owned by a Finnish company.

The Centre informed the Bureau that information was received on 5 July from the UNESCO Moscow Office that the Ministry of Federal Property has acted to keep 49 % of the ownership of the Paper Mill in the hands of the State. This could, given the present situation of the Russian economy and Federal budget, block any further development of an ecologically and socially acceptable solution of the problem of the Mill and may lead to unforeseeable consequences.

The Bureau reiterated its concerns over the threats to the integrity of Lake Baikal, including the issue of reducing the size of the area. While complimenting the State Party on its efforts to adopt the Baikal Law, the Bureau emphasised that the State Party expedites the process of the implementation of the Law with all the legal provisions essential for the effective conservation and management of Lake Baikal. The Bureau requested the State Party to give particular consideration to the legal, financial and other prerequisites needed for re-profiling the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill and other enterprises that continue to pollute Lake Baikal. The Bureau expressed concerns about the recent developments with regard to the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill and urged the State Party to provide full information on this situation. The Bureau invited the State Party to provide a detailed report, by 15 September 1999, on measures to mitigate the pollution threats to Lake Baikal, as well as on the implementation of the Baikal Law.

23 COM X.B.28
State of conservation reports of natural properties noted by the Committee

X.28 The Committee noted the decisions of the twenty-third extraordinary session of the Bureau as reflected in the Report of the Bureau session (Working Document WHC-99/CONF.209/6) included as Annex VIII to this report. Additional observations made during the Committee session are reflected below.

Shark Bay, Western Australia (Australia)

Wet Tropics of Queensland (Australia)

Heard and McDonald Islands (Australia)

The Delegate of Australia thanked IUCN for the consultative process started, which could be a model for other State Parties. He also informed the Committee that the area of marine protection around Macquerie Island had been extended and now comprises 16 million ha, the world's largest highly protected marine zone.

Belovezhskaya Pushcha/Bialowieza Forest (Belarus/Poland)

Dja Faunal Reserve (Cameroon)

Los Katios National Park (Colombia)

The Delegate of Colombia informed the Committee that a visit by a delegation from the Ministry for Environment to Los Katios was recently carried out. The visit included areas that were previously not accessible. He emphasized that the proposal to grant collective land ownership over 100,000ha would be outside the Park in the buffer zone. He commented that his Government would be pleased to receive the visit of the monitoring mission to this site in 2000. The Colombian authorities have enhanced transboundary co-operation with Darien National Park (Panama) and strengthened the protected area system.

Morne Trois Pitons National Park (Dominica)

Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)

The Observer of the United States underlined his Government's role in safeguarding Galapagos Islands and congratulated the Government of Ecuador on progress made. He noted the landmark decision of the Galapagos Law and questioned whether it had been implemented, in particular concerning the forty-mile zone. The Secretariat informed the Committee that some threats related to illegal fishing have been reported. IUCN noted the implementation of this pioneering legislation is vital and specific regulations need to be developed and implemented as soon as possible. The Delegate of Ecuador provided information from the Ministry of Environment noting progress concerning control of introduced species and general improvements in relation to biodiversity conservation at the site. Concerning the control of the 40-mile zone, she stated that the law has not yet been implemented, but that the basis for the conservation and environmental control is there. She thanked the Committee for all its efforts to safeguard the Galapagos.

Kaziranga National Park (India)

Komodo National Park (Indonesia)

Mount Kenya National Park (Kenya)

Sagarmatha National Park (Nepal)

The Observer of Nepal expressed his gratitude for the international support for the important project on tourism carried out at Sagarmatha National Park. The Observer of the United Kingdom noted that it is a ground-breaking project.

Te Wahipounamu - South West New Zealand (New Zealand)

Arabian Oryx Sanctuary (Oman)

The Delegate of Thailand noted the raised serious concerns raised by the Bureau regarding the management of this site, given the decline in numbers of the Arabian Oryx and the fact that the boundary marking and management planning is long overdue for completion. He recalled that the Committee inscribed the site without legislation and management plan in December 1994. He highlighted the Operational Guidelines in relation to the deletion of properties. The Delegate of Benin noted that rigour was not always applied in the past years and that a number of sites would not have been accepted if they were presented today. Concerning the question of deletion, a site would be put first on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Delegate of Thailand made it clear that he had not proposed the deletion of the site from the World Heritage List and that he was totally aware of the modalities in that respect. The Observer of the United Kingdom noted that similar problems concerned a number of sites and that these issues would certainly be dealt with by the periodic reporting process. IUCN pointed out that it had consistently raised concerns about this site. IUCN noted that legislation does not have effect if there is not sufficient resources for its implementation. The Chairperson reminded the Committee members about the rarity of Arab natural sites on the List. In concluding, the Chairperson thanked the Committee for the debate and noted that awareness needs to be raised in countries about the World Heritage Convention, its obligations and World Heritage values to be preserved for future generations, in particular among decision-makers. He thanked the Delegate of Thailand for his statement and encouraged the Committee to further reflect on how to enhance the protection of World Heritage sites.

Huascaran National Park (Peru)

Lake Baikal (Russian Federation)

The Observer of Russia requested that the information provided during the adoption of the report of the twenty-third extraordinary session of the Bureau on this site be included in the Bureau report.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (Uganda)

Gough Island (United Kingdom)

Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Serengeti National Park (United Republic of Tanzania)

Canaima National Park (Venezuela)

Ha Long Bay (Vietnam)

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

The Bureau may wish to adopt the following text and transmit it to the Committee for noting:

“The Bureau again commends the State Party for the adoption of the Baikal Law but urges that the State Party ensures its effective implementation as well as addressing pollution issues associated with the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill. The Bureau requests the State Party to present a state of conservation report by 15 April 2000.”

Report year: 1999
Russian Federation
Date of Inscription: 1996
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(ix)(x)
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