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Curonian Spit

Lithuania, Russian Federation
Factors affecting the property in 2016*
  • Erosion and siltation/ deposition
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Localised utilities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Marine transport infrastructure
  • Oil and gas
  • Surface water pollution
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Potential pollution from the oil exploitation of the D-6 oil field in the Baltic Sea by the Russian Federation
  • Lack of bilateral cooperation between Lithuania and the Russian Federation, including joint assessment of environmental impact of the D-6 project
  • Impacts of sewage spill accident which took place at Klaipėda Water Treatment Station (Lithuania)
  • New constructions and possibly illegal constructions
  • Sand dunes erosion
  • Possible tourism economic zone in Kaliningrad
  • Construction of a Liquefied Natural Gas Terminal outside Klaipėda and proposed construction of a deep sea port at Klaipėda
  • Reported plans to construct a suspension bridge from Klaipėda across the Lagoon to the Spit
  • Absence of a Management Plan and associated cooperative management system between the States Parties
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2016
Requests approved: 3 (from 1998-2002)
Total amount approved : 85,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2016**

August 2001: ICOMOS monitoring mission; November 2003: World Heritage Centre mission; July 2009: ICOMOS/IUCN Technical Advisory mission (invited by Lithuania); December 2010: WHC/ICOMOS/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; January 2015: ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring Mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

In accordance with Committee Decision 38 COM 7B.28, an ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the Lithuanian part of the property occurred from 19 to 22 January 2015. The mission investigated reports of preliminary plans to construct a suspension bridge from Klaipėda across the lagoon to the Spit; construction of a Liquefied Natural Gas Terminal (LNGT) outside Klaipėda and the proposed construction of a deep sea port at Klaipėda.

Subsequently, on 26 November 2015, the State Party of Lithuania submitted an updated report on the state of conservation of the property; followed on 1 December 2015 by a report from the Russian Federation, which are both available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/994/documents/. These 2 reports outline the progress made in relation to the requests of the Committee:

Lithuania:

  • The LNGT is located within Klaipėda port territory, outside the property boundaries and outside the Kursui Nerija (Curonian Spit) National Park. The Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) for the project concluded that there would be no adverse significant impact on the attributes which contribute to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property.
  • A decision regarding the location of the deep sea port of Klaipėda will only occur once the Master Plan of Klaipėda port has been prepared, including Environmental and Heritage Impact Assessment procedures and consultation.
  • There are no current plans, nor any feasibility analysis, for the construction of a bridge from Klaipėda across the lagoon to the Spit.
  • Kursui Nerija National Park forest governance, protection and management functions are being transferred to Kretinga State Forest Enterprise and the Kursiu Nerija National Park Management Plan is being revised.

Russian Federation:

  • There have been no major changes and no illegal construction within the Russian domain of the property.
  • A Draft Program for Social and Economic Development of Curonian Spit Rural Settlement Municipality for 2014-2021 has been elaborated.
  • A program which has been developed for the Curonian Spit National Park Preservation Area is currently under consideration by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation.
  • The Curonian Spit National Park authority is preparing a database of historical and cultural heritage.
  • There have been a range of conservation and management initiatives undertaken jointly by Kursui National Park and Curonian Spit National Park authorities.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2016

The property continues to face a complex range of challenges, which are closely connected with the dynamic natural phenomena impacting on the human-made dunes. These challenges are further complicated by current issues such as development pressure, tourism management and traffic. There is also ongoing tension between the requirements for national park management and local development expectations. It is therefore important that the States Parties fully implement their commitment to the completion of a common Management Plan to be consistently applied by both States Parties and supported through a system of inter-institutional and trans-boundary cooperation. The Management Plan should be based on sustaining the attributes bearing the OUV and should also include a capacity development strategy for national park administrations and municipality staff. A transnational Management Plan would therefore need to comply with both legislations, as well as with the provisions of the World Heritage Convention and its Operational Guidelines.

In May and October 2014, the World Heritage Centre has been informed by the Lithuanian authorities that no formal agreement has been given for the construction of a bridge connecting Klaipėda City and the Curonian Spit and that such construction is not foreseen in any strategic nor territorial planning documents of the Republic of Lithuania, which was also established by the Reactive Monitoring mission of January 2015. The mission concluded that any bridge across the Curonian Lagoon would visually and physically cause irreparable damage to the integrity of the property. The forthcoming Management Plan should therefore exclude any possibility of future bridge construction.

The approval and implementation of the LNGT project outside Klaipėda followed relevant Lithuanian national requirements and addressed some other international obligations but was not preceded by submission of the relevant documentation to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines. There was also insufficient information-sharing with the other State Party regarding the EIA and HIA. However, the mission concluded that the LNGT does not create an adverse effect on the visual integrity (and therefore on attributes which contribute to the OUV) of the property, because of its location and its context, in which the landscape of the Curonian Spit contrasts with the highly-industrial “port-scape” of the Klaipėda marine port.

Conversely, the proposed construction of a deep sea port has potential to impact upon the attributes of the OUV of the property. However, if the enlargement of the existing channel area does not exceed the current port borders, the project may be consistent with the OUV of the property. This option may also have a positive effect by enabling reduction of other traffic within the property. Another option for a deep sea outer port at Klaipėda, which may be considered as an alternative or second phase of the project, could result in unacceptable visual impact, as well as changes to sea currents and the stability of the dunes on the Spit, such that the attributes of the OUV may be irreparably damaged. It is therefore highly recommended that alternative options be considered by the States Parties. Whichever option is pursued, potential impacts should be thoroughly addressed through EIAs and HIAs, which should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for evaluation by the Advisory Bodies before any decision is made.

The Management Plan for the property should include guidelines and conditions concerning future port development, as well as prescribing the need for the preparation of HIAs, which accord with the 2011 ICOMOS Guidance on Heritage Impact Assessments for Cultural World Heritage Properties. The Management Plan should also include a capacity development strategy for national park administrations and municipality staff. Relevant recommendations from the 2010 Reactive Monitoring mission, the 2013 ICOMOS Advisory mission and 2015 Reactive Monitoring mission should be incorporated into the Management Plan.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2016
40 COM 7B.53
Curonian Spit (Lithuania / Russian Federation) (C 994)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions36 COM 7B.78 and 38 COM 7B.28, adopted at its 36th (Saint-Petersburg, 2012), and 38th (Doha, 2014) sessions respectively,
  3. Welcomes the continuing collaboration between the two States Parties and the management of the two national parks and the commitment to produce a trans-boundary Management Plan for the property, as well as the strengthened forest governance, protection and management within the Lithuanian National Park;
  4. Taking note of the Reactive Monitoring mission, which took place to the property in January 2015, notes that the Liquefied Natural Gas Terminal (LNGT) project outside Klaipėda does not cause an adverse impact to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and requests the State Party of Lithuania to ensure that in the future relevant documentation for all major projects that may affect the property are submitted to the World Heritage Centre in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  5. Also notes that there is currently no proposal for the construction of a suspension bridge from Klaipėda across the lagoon to the Spit;
  6. Further notes that the development of a deep sea port and/or a deep sea outer port at Klaipėda could cause an adverse impact to the OUV of the property, arising from both visual impacts and possible changes to sea currents and the stability of the dunes on the Spit and therefore also requests the State Party of Lithuania to ensure that no final decision is made and no work proceeds on the development of a deep sea port and/or a deep sea outer port at Klaipėda until all relevant documentation, including the results of forthcoming Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs), have been be submitted to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, in order to allow an evaluation of potential impact on the property;
  7. Further requests that both States Parties expedite the completion of the Management Plan for the entire property, inclusive of the Lithuanian and the Russian domains including:
    1. a system of inter-institutional and international (trans-boundary) cooperation,
    2. a capacity development strategy for national park administrations and municipality staff,
    3. guidelines and prescriptive conditions concerning future port development,
    4. provision for preparation of HIAs which accord with the 2011 ICOMOS Guidance on Heritage Impact Assessments for Cultural World Heritage Properties, with a specific section focusing on their potential impact on the OUV, for all major projects within the property, and
    5. coverage of other relevant matters raised in reports from the 2010 Reactive Monitoring mission, 2013 Advisory mission and 2015 Reactive Monitoring mission, including (but not limited to):
      1. a policy to prohibit or severely limit construction on the shores or fore-dunes to preserve the unique landscape of the dunes bordering the Baltic Sea and the shore of the Curonian lagoon,
      2. programmes to address conflicting perceptions between the national parks and the municipalities so that there is common commitment to conservation of the OUV of the property,
      3. identification of buffer zones,
      4. continued attention to housing problems and illegal development in the Lithuanian domain of the property, and
      5. an education and information strategy oriented to the local community and other stakeholders;
  8. Finally requests the States Parties of Lithuania and the Russian Federation to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, an updated joint report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.
Draft Decision: 40 COM 7B.53

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions36 COM 7B.78 and 38 COM 7B.28, adopted at its 36th (Saint-Petersburg, 2012), and 38th (Doha, 2014) sessions respectively,
  3. Welcomes the continuing collaboration between the two States Parties and the management of the two national parks and the commitment to produce a trans-boundary Management Plan for the property, as well as the strengthened forest governance, protection and management within the Lithuanian National Park;
  4. Taking note of the Reactive Monitoring mission, which took place to the property in January 2015, notes that the Liquefied Natural Gas Terminal (LNGT) project outside Klaipėda does not cause an adverse impact to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and requests the State Party of Lithuania to ensure that in the future relevant documentation for all major projects that may affect the property are submitted to the World Heritage Centre in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  5. Also notes that there is currently no proposal for the construction of a suspension bridge from Klaipėda across the lagoon to the Spit;
  6. Further notes that the development of a deep sea port and/or a deep sea outer port at Klaipėda could cause an adverse impact to the OUV of the property, arising from both visual impacts and possible changes to sea currents and the stability of the dunes on the Spit and therefore also requests the State Party of Lithuania to ensure that no final decision is made and no work proceeds on the development of a deep sea port and/or a deep sea outer port at Klaipėda until all relevant documentation, including the results of forthcoming Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs), have been be submitted to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, in order to allow an evaluation of potential impact on the property;
  7. Further requests that both States Parties expedite the completion of the Management Plan for the entire property, inclusive of the Lithuanian and the Russian domains including:
    1. a system of inter-institutional and international (trans-boundary) cooperation,
    2. a capacity development strategy for national park administrations and municipality staff,
    3. guidelines and prescriptive conditions concerning future port development,
    4. provision for preparation of HIAs which accord with the 2011 ICOMOS Guidance on Heritage Impact Assessments for Cultural World Heritage Properties, with a specific section focusing on their potential impact on the OUV, for all major projects within the property, and
    5. coverage of other relevant matters raised in reports from the 2010 Reactive Monitoring mission, 2013 Advisory mission and 2015 Reactive Monitoring mission, including (but not limited to):
      1. a policy to prohibit or severely limit construction on the shores or fore-dunes to preserve the unique landscape of the dunes bordering the Baltic Sea and the shore of the Curonian lagoon,
      2. programmes to address conflicting perceptions between the national parks and the municipalities so that there is common commitment to conservation of the OUV of the property,
      3. identification of buffer zones,
      4. continued attention to housing problems and illegal development in the Lithuanian domain of the property, and
      5. an education and information strategy oriented to the local community and other stakeholders;
  8. Finally requests the States Parties of Lithuania and the Russian Federation to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, an updated joint report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.
Report year: 2016
Lithuania Russian Federation
Date of Inscription: 2000
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (v)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 40COM (2016)
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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