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Golden Mountains of Altai

Russian Federation
Factors affecting the property in 2016*
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Major linear utilities
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Impacts of a road project across the property
  • Gas pipeline construction plans
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 29 January 2016, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, a summary of which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/768/documents, which reports on the following matters:

  • Reference is made to the possible construction of a gas pipeline, stressing that no construction is occurring at this stage. Any construction would require a positive result of a federal level Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). No such process is underway, let alone concluded;
  • The Federal Government Order N° 1416-r, which had included the gas pipeline under consideration as one of several approved future pipeline projects in August of 2013, has since become invalid through the Federal Government Order N° 816-r dated May 2015. It is also reported that the Government of the Altai Republic has no plans for construction of linear infrastructure or other types of construction projects, which could affect the property.

The State Party reports on additional issues, which are summarized hereafter:

  • Commitment is confirmed to the recommendations of the 2012 joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission, whose implementation has repeatedly been requested by the Committee. While acknowledging room for improvement in terms of the overall coordination between the five components of the serial property, consolidation of management is reported for the Katunsky and Altaisky components;
  • Illegal access and activities, such as poaching, are reported to constitute the main conflict with the formal protection status of the property;
  • Research projects are ongoing, in particular transboundary work on the flagship species snow leopard and argali, studies on reindeer summer habitats, as well as long-term monitoring of ecosystem responses to climate change;
  • An increased visitation in selected areas of the property is noted, along with efforts underway to monitor the situation, establish carrying capacity for and minimize the environmental impacts of tourism;
  • Progress in improving transboundary cooperation between the Katunsky component and Katon-Karagaysky State National Natural Park in neighboring Kazakhstan includes coordinated management planning and the joint elaboration of a nomination for a transboundary Biosphere Reserve, planned for submission in 2016.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2016

The information provided by the State Party that no further construction work on the gas pipeline has occurred within the property since the suspension of preparatory survey work in 2013 is noted. While the State Party reports that Federal Government Order N° 816-r dated May 2015 repealed the earlier Federal Government Order N° 1416-r, it does not provide any details on the implications of the reported legal change. It should be noted that the text of the Order 816-r, available online on the official internet portal of legislative acts (http://publication.pravo.gov.ru/), not only mentions the Altai gas pipeline, but also states that the project documentation in its sections dealing with environmental impact assessment considers the status of the Golden Mountains of Altai. The official website of Gazprom mentions the signing of a Heads of Agreement with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) for pipeline gas supply from Russia to China via the “Western route” (which is how the Altai route is also referred to) on 8 May 2015. A press release by Gazprom dated 17 December 2015 confirms further discussion and that commercial negotiations would continue in the last two weeks of January 2016.

The World Heritage Centre also received a letter from a group of indigenous peoples who oppose the construction of the pipeline and express their concerns regarding the potential impacts of the project on the Ukok Plateau which is considered a sacred place by the Indigenous peoples of Altai. On 7 April 2016, the World Heritage Centre sent a letter to the State Party requesting clarifications on the above-mentioned letter. No response from the State Party has been received at the time of writing this report. While the State Party confirms that no construction works occurred within the property, it does not report on whether a firm decision has been made to abandon the pipeline project.

Similarly, while the State Party reports that there are no construction plans of any linear infrastructure on the part of the Government of the Altai Republic, the State Party did not report on whether the Decree 212 N 202 dated 2 August 2012 of the Altai Republic, which would permit such projects, was revoked, as requested by the Committee in its Decision 39 COM 7B.21. As the World Heritage Committee has repeatedly noted, a decision to go forward with the project would represent a clear case for inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger. It is therefore recommended that the Committee reiterate its request to the State Party to make an unequivocal decision to abandon the construction of the Altai gas pipeline through the property, as previously requested in its decisions 33 COM 7B.27, 35 COM 7B.26, 36 COM 7B.25, 37 COM 7B.25 and 39 COM 7B.21.

The renewed commitment of the State Party to follow up on the recommendations of the 2012 mission is welcomed. Further consolidation of the management response to the recommendations is strongly encouraged; in particular as regards the coordination of management among the components of the serial property, adequate staffing, consideration of cultural values, as well as responses to illegal activities and localized impacts of uncontrolled tourism, including from all-terrain vehicles. The intention to nominate a transboundary Biosphere Reserve jointly with Kazakhstan is noted and coordination with the parallel discussion on a possible transboundary World Heritage approach is encouraged.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2016
40 COM 7B.96
Golden Mountains of Altaï (Russian Federation) (N 768rev)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 39 COM 7B.21, adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),
  3. Welcomes the State Party’s ongoing commitment to the recommendations of the 2012 mission and the progress made in this regard, and requests the State Party to continue its efforts in the implementation of the mission recommendations;
  4. While noting the information provided by the State Party that no construction works on the Altai gas pipeline have been ongoing, reiterates its utmost concern that no firm decision has been made to abandon the Altai gas pipeline route, which would cross the property and reiterates its request to the State Party to take an unequivocal decision to abandon the construction of the Altai gas pipeline through the property and urges the States Parties of the Russian Federation and China to consider alternative routes for gas supply projects;
  5. Reiterates its position that any decision to go forward with the Altai gas pipeline through the property would represent an ascertained danger to its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines, and would represent a clear case for inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  6. Also reiterates its request to the State Party to ensure that Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), including assessments of impacts on the OUV of the property, in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for any infrastructure development in or around the property, which could affect its OUV, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  7. Also reiterates its concern about Decree 212 N 202 dated 2 August 2012 of the Republic of Altai, which allows the “construction and exploitation of linear objects as well as structures that are an integral part of the process” and therefore weakens the legal provisions protecting the property; emphasizes that, in accordance with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines, the modification of legal protection status of an area included in a property is considered as a potential danger to its OUV and a reason for inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, and urges the State Party to revoke this decree;
  8. Commends the States Parties of the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan on further progress in transboundary conservation efforts and strongly encourages all States Parties of the Altai region to consolidate existing transboundary conservation efforts, including under the World Heritage Convention, and to seek advice from the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, as required;
  9. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2017, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property, in particular the status of the Altai gas pipeline project, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017, with a view to considering, in case of the confirmation of ascertained or potential danger to Outstanding Universal Value, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Draft Decision: 40 COM 7B.96

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 39 COM 7B.21, adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),
  3. Welcomes the State Party’s ongoing commitment to the recommendations of the 2012 mission and the progress made in this regard, and requests the State Party to continue its efforts in the implementation of the mission recommendations;
  4. While noting the information provided by the State Party that no construction works on the Altai gas pipeline have been ongoing, reiterates its utmost concern that no firm decision has been made to abandon the Altai gas pipeline route, which would cross the property and reiterates its request to the State Party to take an unequivocal decision to abandon the construction of the Altai gas pipeline through the property and urges the States Parties of the Russian Federation and China to consider alternative routes for gas supply projects;
  5. Reiterates its position that any decision to go forward with the Altai gas pipeline through the property would represent an ascertained danger to its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines, and would represent a clear case for inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  6. Also reiterates its request to the State Party to ensure that Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), including assessments of impacts on the OUV of the property, in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for any infrastructure development in or around the property, which could affect its OUV, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  7. Also reiterates its concern about Decree 212 N 202 dated 2 August 2012 of the Republic of Altai, which allows the “construction and exploitation of linear objects as well as structures that are an integral part of the process” and therefore weakens the legal provisions protecting the property; emphasizes that, in accordance with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines, the modification of legal protection status of an area included in a property is considered as a potential danger to its OUV and a reason for inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, and urges the State Party to revoke this decree;
  8. Commends the States Parties of the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan on further progress in transboundary conservation efforts and strongly encourages all States Parties of the Altai region to consolidate existing transboundary conservation efforts, including under the World Heritage Convention, and to seek advice from the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, as required;
  9. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2017, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property, in particular the status of the Altai gas pipeline project, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017, with a view to considering, in case of the confirmation of ascertained or potential danger to Outstanding Universal Value, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Report year: 2016
Russian Federation
Date of Inscription: 1998
Category: Natural
Criteria: (x)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2016) .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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