1.         Western Caucasus (Russian Federation) (N 900)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1999

Criteria  (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/900/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/900/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

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 

 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/900/

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

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

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:

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.

Decision Adopted: 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 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.