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Cultural and Historic Ensemble of the Solovetsky Islands

Russian Federation
Factors affecting the property in 2016*
  • Legal framework
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Other Threats:

    Lack of monitoring

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Lack of joint management system between national, local and religious authorities (issue resolved)
  • Lack of monitoring mechanisms
  • Lack of appropriate legal measures and rules for conservation, restoration, management and use of World Heritage properties of religious interest
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2016
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

On 23 December 2015, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/632/documents/. It provides detailed information on the implementation of the Committee’s recommendations. In July 2015, an ICOMOS Advisory mission to the property was undertaken.

  • Changes to the Development Strategy of Solovetsky Archipelago, recognizing it as a unique site of spiritual, historical-cultural and natural heritage, were introduced by Decree in July 2015. Improvements to its statutory legal status have been supplemented by sub-divisions pertaining to management, control of the ecological situation, social development, stabilisation of the municipal and transportation spheres, tourism development, improvement of the economic system and educational and scientific activities;
  • Significant changes have been introduced to the Federal Law of October 2014, which entered into effect in January 2015, to improve the legislation in the sphere of protection of cultural heritage sites at federal level. In addition, legal measures are being taken on establishing a state natural sanctuary including an offshore strip of 3 nautical miles in the White Sea and a regime of special protection of the natural complexes and sites within the sanctuary boundaries;
  • The development of the Management Plan has commenced with the definition of the attributes which express the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and the definition of the proprietary affiliation and usage. The plan will reconcile the interests and activities of all stakeholders and define the goals and tasks of the basic development strategy of the territory considering its cultural and spiritual significance. The management of the property is supplemented by legislative documents regulating the management of the Archipelago. These include orders pertaining to the approval of boundaries of the protection zones of cultural heritage sites of federal importance, as well as requirements for land-use and town-planning regulations within the boundaries of the zones passed in December 2013 and the October 2014 passed decree of the Government of the Russian Federation on the approval of a set of organizational measures on conservation and development;
  • Conservation and restoration projects are carried out in accordance with the Conception of Cultural Heritage Preservation of Solovetsky Archipelago, based on analysis of the state of conservation, proposals on procedures and methods. Works executed are based on scientific renewal to return the cultural heritage to its historic function;
  • The Master Plan of the municipal structure is currently being developed for the whole territory of the Archipelago;
  • A Road Map on construction, reconstruction and restoration projects of sites located on the Archipelago to assess the impact on the OUV was prepared and approved in May 2015. A Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) was commissioned in July 2015 for the Project on the Construction of a Residential Building for Specialists of the Complex Fire Rescue Centre, including a number of other projects not specified in the report.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2016

Considerable efforts have been deployed by the State Party to address the recommendations of the Committee, notably the improvements made to the legal status of the property, the revision to the Development Strategy to reflect its spiritual, historical-cultural and natural aspects, as well as the progress made with the definition of the attributes which express the OUV, encompassing the cultural and natural context of the property. However, the 2015 ICOMOS Advisory mission noted a number of gaps and deficiencies which need urgent attention.

In order to effectively ensure the preservation of the OUV of the property, the mission considered that, to date, the comprehensive complexity of this property, its cultural resources, natural and spiritual attributes, namely the pilgrimage routes and monastic roads, the complex irrigation systems with its lakes, visual axis, and its overall cultural landscape, largely shaped by the monastery from the 15th century, have not been fully recognized in management and planning tools. Therefore, the State Party should further develop the Management plan based on OUV and its attributes, on a full understanding of the development of the overall landscape, and on a cultural landscape approach.

With regard to the current legislative measures and legal status of the property, the mission noted that at present the natural, spiritual and cultural values of the property are not recognized within the legal protection measures, although it is noted that the State Party is elaborating an amendment to the Federal Law to encompass the historical-cultural and natural aspects of the Archipelago. 

It is also noted that the boundaries around the Archipelago of Solovetsky, reported at the time of the inscription of the property, do not have a legitimate status of protection according to federal legislation. Only the boundaries around the main monuments and ensembles are considered but these by no means cover the territory of the archipelago. In the absence of adequate protective mechanisms for the whole property composed of six islands and adequate land-use zones, continuing urbanization of the Solovetsky Island poses a serious threat to the integrity of the property, particularly around the Solovetsky Monastery, which is zoned as a Construction Zone and for regulated economic activities. 

Attention is also called by the mission on the urgent need for the development of a Conservation Plan for the overall property, to adequately plan and implement conservation measures, in particular addressing the seriously endangered monastic irrigation system, lakes, canals and pilgrimage routes, how the vulnerable traditional wooden architecture might be conserved and upgraded and the reconstruction of monastic buildings approached, and how the overall cultural landscape might be sustained. Meanwhile, the State Party is strongly recommended to refrain from reconstruction or conjectural rebuilding which threatens the authenticity of the property.

The mission found that despite the negative impacts identified by the HIA, the project for the Museum Complex has continued. Constructions, such as the airport building, also potentially threaten the OUV of the property. Therefore, it is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to immediately halt these constructions and identify alternative solutions for the design and location of the museum building and the airport building.

The Master Plan for the entire Archipelago and the Development Plan need to be revised to take into account the retrospective Statement of OUV and to set out land-use zones, limits on development and on how development can reinforce the attributes of OUV relating to the “unique site of spiritual, historical-cultural and natural heritage” that has now been formally recognized.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2016
40 COM 7B.56
Cultural and Historic Ensemble of the Solovetsky Islands (Russian Federation) (C 632)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7B.32, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Notes the recommendations of the July 2015 ICOMOS Advisory mission to the property and requests the State Party to give high priority to the implementation of its recommendations;
  4. Acknowledges the positive steps taken by the State Party to address the decisions of the Committee, notably the revisions undertaken so far to the legislative and regulatory measures;
  5. Considers that the draft retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property should fully reflect the complexity of this property, its attributes and resources, namely the pilgrimage routes and monastic roads, and the complex irrigation systems with its lakes and visual axis, and its overall cultural landscape;
  6. Recalls its previous concerns regarding the inappropriate location of the Museum Complex and urges the State Party to immediately halt its construction, remove the parts already constructed, and consider a more appropriate design and location for the Museum, and to report progress to the World Heritage Centre by 1 December 2016, for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  7. Also requests that the construction of the airport building be halted and the project reconsidered;
  8. Expresses its concern about the poor state of conservation of the monastic irrigation system, with its lakes and canals, pilgrimage routes and vernacular timber buildings, and the degree of rebuilding of monuments, and further requests the State Party to elaborate a Conservation plan for the overall property, to adequately plan and implement conservation measures, and meanwhile to refrain from reconstruction or conjectural rebuilding which threatens the authenticity of the property;
  9. Also urges the State Party to revise the Master Pan of the Solovetsky Archipelago, and the Development Plan so that they define the limits of development, and set parameters to ensure that land use and development reinforce the OUV of the property;
  10. Requests furthermore the State Party to revise the Management Plan so that it is based on the OUV and its attributes, and takes a cultural landscape approach, and to submit the revised plan to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  11. Invites the State Party to inform it, through the World Heritage Centre and in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, of any intention to undertake or authorize major restoration, conservation, and/or development projects which may affect the OUV of the property, as soon as possible and before making any decisions;
  12. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, an updated 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.56

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7B.32, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Notes the recommendations of the July 2015 ICOMOS Advisory mission to the property and requests the State Party to give high priority to the implementation of its recommendations;
  4. Acknowledges the positive steps taken by the State Party to address the decisions of the Committee, notably the revisions undertaken so far to the legislative and regulatory measures;
  5. Considers that the draft retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property should fully reflect the complexity of this property, its attributes and resources, namely the pilgrimage routes and monastic roads, and the complex irrigation systems with its lakes and visual axis, and its overall cultural landscape;
  6. Recalls its previous concerns regarding the inappropriate location of the Museum Complex and urges the State Party to immediately halt its construction, remove the parts already constructed, and consider a more appropriate design and location for the Museum, and to report progress to the World Heritage Centre by 1 December 2016, for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  7. Also requests that the construction of the airport building be halted and the project reconsidered;
  8. Expresses its concern about the poor state of conservation of the monastic irrigation system, with its lakes and canals, pilgrimage routes and vernacular timber buildings, and the degree of rebuilding of monuments, and further requests the State Party to elaborate a Conservation plan for the overall property, to adequately plan and implement conservation measures, and meanwhile to refrain from reconstruction or conjectural rebuilding which threatens the authenticity of the property;
  9. Also urges the State Party to revise the Master Pan of the Solovetsky Archipelago, and the Development Plan so that they define the limits of development, and set parameters to ensure that land use and development reinforce the OUV of the property;
  10. Requests furthermore the State Party to revise the Management Plan so that it is based on the OUV and its attributes, and takes a cultural landscape approach, and to submit the revised plan to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  11. Invites the State Party to inform it, through the World Heritage Centre and in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, of any intention to undertake or authorize major restoration, conservation, and/or development projects which may affect the OUV of the property, as soon as possible and before making any decisions;
  12. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, an updated 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
Russian Federation
Date of Inscription: 1992
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iv)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2015) .pdf
Report (2015) .pdf
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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