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 1990-2000)
Total amount approved: USD 33,200
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/754/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

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

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2014

On 30 January 2014, a report on the state of conservation of the property was submitted by the State Party, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/754/documents/. The State Party of the Russian Federation reports the following:

The State Party notes concerns about plans of the State Party of Mongolia to build a hydroelectric power plant on the Selenga and Orkhon Rivers and the lack of research and assessment on the environmental and social impact of the project on the World Heritage property, including threats to biodiversity, changes in water discharge and drifts, and river morphology.

The World Heritage Centre requested the State Party of Mongolia to provide information regarding such a development. On 7 April 2014, the State Party of the Russian Federation sent a letter to the World Heritage Centre, raising again concern about a potential threat to the property from hydropower plant constructions in Mongolia. On 8 April 2014 the World Heritage Centre reminded its request to the State Party of Mongolia to provide further information in that regard. A reply from the State Party of Mongolia was received on 14 April 2014.

Given the early stage of both projects, the State Party of Mongolia considers it is premature to draw conclusions on their potential impacts on the property. The State Party of Mongolia notes that it regularly provides information about these projects to the State Party of the Russian Federation in the framework of the Agreement on Protection and Utilization of Border Water.

The State Party of Mongolia confirms that technical and economic feasibility studies are ongoing for the Shuren Hydropower Plant on a tributary of the Selenga River, which would have a capacity of 300 megawatts. These studies are expected to be completed in 2015. If their conclusions are positive, environmental assessments will be carried out in conformity with current legislation.

Terms of Reference are currently being developed for technical and economic feasibility studies for a multipurpose water complex on the Orkhon River, which would have the aim to enhance water supply to towns and settlements in the region.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The information provided by the State Party that the facilities for pulp production in the BPPM ceased to operate and that parts of the BPPM for heat production remain in operation is well noted. The Committee’s decision should be recalled, that any future use of the BPPM site should be subject to EIA, with particular emphasis on the impact of the BPPM on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property.

There is some concern that the State Party of Mongolia continues considering plans for dam constructions on the Selenga and Orkhon rivers, which constitute the main source of water inflow to Lake Baikal. Dam construction on either of these rivers may have significant adverse impacts on the OUV of the property and it is recommended that the Committee therefore request the State Party of Mongolia to ensure that no dam construction on either river proceeds before these potential impacts, including cumulative impacts, on OUV have been duly assessed, and to provide a copy of the environmental impact assessments of these projects to the World Heritage Centre. The concern expressed by the State Party of the Russian Federation about these projects and their potential impacts on the property should also be noted.

Considering the concerns mentioned above, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party of Mongolia to invite an IUCN reactive monitoring mission, with an invitation also extended to the authorities of the Russian Federation, in order to review the scope, scale and status of the dam projects in Mongolia and to have a discussion early in the planning process about the potential impacts of these projects on the property. The mission should make recommendations to both States Parties and the World Heritage Committee to avoid any negative impacts from these projects on the OUV of the property.

The confirmation that ore mining at the Kholodninskoye deposit remains suspended until end of 2014 is welcomed, and it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to confirm that no license for mining activities will be granted after this date in conformity with the Committee’s established position on the incompatibility of mining activities and World Heritage status.

The information that the SEZ “Baikal Harbor” remains a priority development project is noted. There is concern over its impact on the property’s values. No further development within the SEZ should be allowed prior to the completion of a comprehensive Strategic Environmental Assessment of tourism development options within the property and in its vicinity, in order to identify alternatives that do not negatively impact on its OUV.

There has been some progress made with the development of management plans for Barguzinsky Reserve, Zabaikalsky National Park and Federal Reserve Frolikhinsky and it has become a necessity to develop an integrated management plan for the property as a whole, in order for the requirements for management of the World Heritage property to be met, in line with Paragraph 112 of the Operational Guidelines.  

There have also been reports of proposals being made to introduce changes to Federal Law “On Baikal Lake Protection” N 94-FZ, which appear to weaken the protection of the property. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to provide detailed information on these proposed changes and their potential impact on the conservation and management of the property.

Decision Adopted: 38 COM 7B.76

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 37 COM 7B.22, adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
  3. Welcomes the information provided by the State Party that the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill (BPPM) has been shut down, although it continues to produce heat, and requests the State Party to develop a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the future use of the BPPM site and its impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  4. Notes with concern that the State Party of Mongolia continues to consider the development of dams on the Selenga and Orkhon rivers, and also requests the State Party of Mongolia to ensure that no dam development on either river proceeds before the potential impacts, including cumulative impacts, of these projects on OUV have been duly assessed, in conformity with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and to provide a copy of the environmental impact assessments of these projects to the World Heritage Centre in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines ;
  5. Further requests the State Party of Mongolia to invite an IUCN reactive monitoring mission, with an invitation also extended to the authorities of the Russian Federation, in order to review the scope, scale and status of the dam projects in Mongolia and to have a discussion early in the planning process about the potential impacts of these projects on the property;
  6. Reiterates its position that mining is incompatible with World Heritage status, and requests furthermore the State Party of the Russian Federation to ensure that mining at the Kholodninskoye deposit remains prohibited beyond 31 December 2014;
  7. Expresses its concern over the continued development of the “Baikal Harbour” and “Gate of Baikal” Special Economic Zones and the lack of assessment of the impacts of these developments on the OUV of the property, and requests moreover the State Party to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the Special Economic Zones (SEZs), in particular concerning tourism development within the property and its vicinity, in order to identify alternatives that will not have a negative impact on the OUV of the property;
  8. Also expresses its concern over reported proposals to introduce changes to Federal Law N 94-FZ which would weaken the protection of the property, and requests in addition the State Party to provide further information on these proposed changes;
  9. Urges the State Party to expedite the development of management plans for the protected areas which constitute the property as well as an integrated management plan for the property as a whole, in line with Paragraph 112 of the Operational Guidelines;
  10. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property, including on the implementation of the actions noted above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015.