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Western Caucasus

Russian Federation
Factors affecting the property in 2014*
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Illegal activities
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Legal framework
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
  • Management systems/ management plan
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Lack of Management Plan
  • Weakening of conservation controls and laws
  • Impacts of proposed tourism infrastructure development
  • Road construction
  • Deforestation
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2014
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2014**

April 2008: World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission; May 2009: High-level visit by Director of the World Heritage Centre and the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee; May 2010: World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission; September 2012: UNESCO/IUCN reactive monitoring mission 

 

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2014

On 30 January 2014, the State Party submitted a State of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/900/documents/. This report addresses some of the issues raised by Decision 37 COM 7B.23

  • The State Party plans to submit a proposal for a significant boundary modification of the property. Part of the Lagonaki plateau would be removed from the property. The State Party intends to establish the so-called “Lagonaki biosphere polygon” by June 2015, and to allow the construction of large-scale tourism facilities on part of it. The State Party also plans to include the Upper Mzymta Valley as well as part of Sochi National Park within the newly nominated site. This would upgrade their status and forbid new construction and extensions of existing infrastructure there:
  • A sustainable tourism strategy and overall management plan are under discussion with stakeholders and will also address the establishment of an overall coordination body for the property;
  • The State Party plans to set up a “reservation area” within the Western Caucasus State Biosphere Reserve by the end of 2014, which is said to contribute to the newly nominated site and its buffer zone. It is unclear which area is referred to and what will be its protection status;
  • Regarding the request to adapt certificates of nature monuments inside the property, the State Party concludes that “sanitary cutting” cannot be forbidden by the existing legislation, and general logging, road construction, power lines and other constructions are already forbidden by the existing “certificates”.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2014

Decision 37 COM 7B.23 should be recalled, in particular that the installation of any capital construction on the Lagonaki Plateau, including Mounts Fisht and Oshten would constitute a case for the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines. The State Party is developping a proposal for a significant boundary modification of the property including the exclusion from the property of parts of Lagonaki Plateau, in order to permit construction of large scale tourism facilities. While the State Party report notes that the areas proposed to be excluded are already degraded, the proposal for boundary modification will have to demonstrate that excluding these areas would not impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property. The 2012 World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission considered that given the importance of the Lagonaki plateau area, it would be clearly impossible to exclude all the areas which have been identified as suitable for alpine ski development without seriously impacting the OUV of the property.

The State Party Report does not explicitly address the request to send Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports on all infrastructure upgrading/development projects to the World Heritage Centre before any decisions on these are taken. No information is provided about the Persian Leopard reintroduction project or on the development of infrastructure at the biosphere centre at Lunnaya Polyana.

Several other pressures are worth noting:

  • Federal Law N°406-FZ adopted on 28 December 2013 adapts the Federal Law on Specially Protected Areas, weakening the protection status of strict nature reserves, including parts of the property, by allowing the construction of tourism facilities. The World Heritage Centre requested the State Party, in conformity with paragraph 174, to provide detailed information regarding legal instruments and regulations applicable to the World Heritage natural properties in the Russian Federation. At the time of the preparation of this document, no response has been received.
  •  Various works inside the strict nature reserve (e.g. upgrade of Babuk Aul forest road, cable car construction at “Biosphere scientific centre” and other facilities nearby), have been carried out in 2013 without prior assessment of their effects on the OUV of the property. The World Heritage Centre requested the State Party, in conformity with Paragraphs 172 and 174 of the Operational Guidelines, to verify the information and to submit an EIA for any proposed infrastructure upgrading inside the property for review by the Advisory Bodies before a decision is taken.
  • The development of infrastructure at the biosphere centre at Lunnaya Polyana which is not in line with its function as a meteorological research centre.
  • There remains no buffer zone around the property and the situation of the buffer zone on the northern boundary of the property has not yet been clarified;
  • No progress has been reported regarding the implementation of an overall management plan.

There is limited progress with the implementation of the recommendations of the 2012 joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission. No operational measures and decisions to significantly strengthen the protection regime seem to have been taken since the previous session of the Committee, while the legal basis for effective conservation of the property's OUV appears to have deteriorated. The requests made by the Committee in Decision 37 COM 7B.23 therefore remain valid.

Furthermore, it is recommended that the World Heritage Committee request the State Party to report on the state of the proposed reintroduction of Persian leopard in the Western Caucasus, which is directly linked to the OUV of the property, which is reported to have been approved in early 2014.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2014
38 COM 7B.77
Western Caucasus (Russian Federation) (N 900)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 37 COM 7B.23, adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
  3. Expresses its utmost concern about the adoption of amendments to Federal Law N°406-FZ, dated 28 December 2013, which make it possible to develop large scale tourism infrastructure in strict nature reserves, and could also impact other natural World Heritage properties in the Russian Federation, and reiterates its request to the State Party to ensure that no large scale ski or tourism infrastructure is built within the property;
  4. Takes note of the intention of the State Party to submit a proposal for a boundary modification by excluding parts of the Lagonaki plateau from the property which are reported to be degraded and by including other parts, and recalls that such a proposal has to be clearly justified in terms of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) for which the property was inscribed, should be based on reliable scientific data and should be submitted as a major boundary modification, in accordance with Paragraph 165 of the Operational Guidelines ;
  5. Reiterates its position that the installation of capital construction on the Lagonaki Plateau, including Mount Fisht and Oshten, would constitute a case for inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines;
  6. Notes with concern that development pressures on the property appear to increase continuously, as noted by reports that new construction works have been conducted inside the property without prior assessment of their potential impact on its OUV, including upgrade of Babuk Aul forest road, cable car construction at “Biosphere scientific centre” and other facilities nearby, and urges the State Party to ensure that the potential impacts of any proposed infrastructure upgrading inside the property on its OUV are carefully assessed and that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is sent to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies before a decision is taken in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  7. Also reiterates its request to the State Party to implement all the recommendations of the 2012 joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN reactive monitoring mission;
  8. Requests the State Party to report on the status of the proposed Persian leopard reintroduction project and provide the World Heritage Centre with detailed information and data on this project, in line with the 2013 IUCN Guidelines for Reintroductions and Other Conservation Translocations;
  9. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2015, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in 2016.
Draft Decision:    38.COM 7B.77

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 37 COM 7B.23, adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),

3. Expresses its utmost concern about the adoption of amendments to Federal Law N°406-FZ, dated 28 December 2013, which make it possible to develop large scale tourism infrastructure in strict nature reserves, and could also impact other natural World Heritage properties in the Russian Federation, and reiterates its request to the State Party to ensure that no large scale ski or tourism infrastructure is built within the property;

4. Takes note of the intention of the State Party to submit a proposal for a boundary modification by excluding parts of the Lagonaki plateau from the property which are reported to be degraded and by including other parts, and recalls that such a proposal has to be clearly justified in terms of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) for which the property was inscribed, should be based on reliable scientific data and should be submitted as a major boundary
modification, in accordance with Paragraph 165 of the Operational Guidelines;

5. Reiterates its position that the installation of capital construction on the Lagonaki Plateau, including Mount Fisht and Oshten, would constitute a case for inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines;

6. Notes with concern that development pressures on the property appear to increase continuously, as noted by reports that new construction works have been conducted inside the property without prior assessment of their potential impact on its OUV, including upgrade of Babuk Aul forest road, cable car construction at “Biosphere scientific centre” and other facilities nearby, and urges the State Party to ensure that the potential impacts of any proposed infrastructure upgrading inside the property on its OUV are carefully assessed and that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is sent to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies before a decision is taken in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;

7. Also reiterates its request to the State Party to implement all the recommendations of the 2012 joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN reactive monitoring mission;

8. Requests the State Party to report on the status of the proposed Persian leopard reintroduction project and provide the World Heritage Centre with detailed information and data on this project, in line with the 2013 IUCN Guidelines for Reintroductions and Other Conservation Translocations;

9. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2016, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in 2016.

Report year: 2014
Russian Federation
Date of Inscription: 1999
Category: Natural
Criteria: (ix)(x)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2014) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 38COM (2014)
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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