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Lake Baikal

Russian Federation
Factors affecting the property in 2016*
  • Illegal activities
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Land conversion
  • Legal framework
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Mining
  • Surface water pollution
  • Water (extraction)
  • Water infrastructure
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Lack of adequate management system
  • Uncertain legal protection
  • Pollution
  • Illegal timber harvesting
  • Gas and oil pipeline project across the world heritage property (issue resolved)
  • Illegal construction on the lake shore
  • Illegal sale of land
  • Tourism development
  • Lack of mechanism to control waste water discharge
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2016
Requests approved: 2 (from 1990-2000)
Total amount approved : 33,200 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

On 2 February 2016 the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/754/documents/. The following information is provided in the report:

  • A number of laws and regulations have recently been adopted which are aimed at restricting any new industrial projects around Lake Baikal, including amendments to the Federal Law on Environmental Impact Reviews according to which a federal level environmental impact assessment (EIA) will be required for any construction and reconstruction projects within the natural region around Lake Baikal;
  • The establishment of the special economic zones for tourism and recreational activities “Gates of Baikal” and “Baikal Harbours” was completed. A number of tourism infrastructure developments are planned to be completed within the Gates of Baikal zone in late 2016. In the Baikal Harbours zone 37 new facilities or improvements have been commissioned and built, including heat and electricity supply plants and a walking promenade along the lakeshore;
  • The Water Protection Zone and the Fisheries Protection Zone of the Lake were extended;
  • The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment commissioned the development of new guidelines for the preparation of medium-term management plans for all state nature reserves and national parks at Lake Baikal;
  • Intensive wildfires occurred in the Baikal region in 2015, but the State Party states that the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property did not suffer any significant damage. On the other hand, it also reports that 14% of the Baikal-Lena National Nature Reserve, 11% of the Pribaikalsky National Park and 6% of the Zabaikalsky National Park were affected by fires. In Baikalski Nature Reserve the fires almost completely destroyed one of the largest surviving old-growth cedar forests;
  • The license issued to the LLC “Invest-Euro-Company” for the Kholodninskoye poly-metallic ores deposit was suspended in August 2015 and in October the company formally withdrew its application. Exploration or development of any new deposits within the Central Ecological Zone of Baikal’s natural territory is prohibited by Resolution 643 of the Government of the Russian Federation;
  • An update is provided on the regular monitoring and field inspection activities.

No information was provided by the State Party on the implementation of the recommendations of the 2015 Reactive Monitoring mission with regards to the planned hydropower projects in Mongolia. At the time of writing this report, the State Party of Mongolia did not submit any information on this issue as requested by the Committee in its Decision 39 COM 7B.22.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2016

The extension of the Water Protection Zone and the Fisheries Protection Zone of the lake should be commended. The information that according to the recent amendments to the Federal Law on Environmental Impact Reviews a federal level EIA will be required for any construction and reconstruction project within the natural region around Lake Baikal is also welcome.

It is noted with appreciation that the license of the LLC “Invest-Euro-Company” for the Kholodninskoye deposit was suspended, that the application is reported to have been officially withdrawn by the company, and that exploration or development of any new deposits is prohibited.

However, the information regarding the planned and ongoing tourism infrastructure development projects within the Gates of Baikal and Baikal Harbours special economic zones raises concern. While the State Party notes that the creation of these special zones was aimed at the promotion of sustainable development of the region while ensuring the preservation of the unique ecosystem of Lake Baikal, the number of planned and ongoing developments appears to be significant. It is further noted that EIAs have been prepared for each economic zone; however it is regrettable that these have not been provided to the World Heritage Centre in conformity with paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to submit the results of these EIAs to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN, and that it reiterate its request to the State Party to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of all special economic zones overlapping with the property, in order to guide all future developments in a coherent manner consistent with the conservation of its OUV. The SEA should take into account cumulative impacts of all existing and proposed developments and identify alternatives that will not have negative impacts on the OUV of the property.

The efforts of the State Party in combatting the wildfires, including through mobilization of a large number of firefighters, the forces of the Ministry of Emergency Situations and volunteers should be commended. The damage from wildfires reported in a number of protected areas around Lake Baikal is of concern, and suggests that despite the State Party’s statement that no significant damage occurred to the OUV of the property, its conditions of integrity may have suffered negative impacts.  It is therefore recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to assess the impacts from the fires on the lake ecosystem, taking into account the interrelationship between the lake waters and the forests around the lake, which are included in the property. 

The information that new guidelines for the development of management plans for protected areas around Lake Baikal are being developed is welcomed. It is recommended that the World Heritage Committee requests the State Party to build on this process in order to develop an integrated management plan for the property, which should include a fire management and risk prevention plan.

It is regrettable that the State Party did not report on the development of a detailed EIA on the future use of the Baikal Paper and Pulp Mill site and its impact on the OUV of the property, as was requested by the Committee in its Decision 38 COM 7B.76 and reiterated in its Decision 39 COM 7B.22. It is recommended that the World Heritage Committee reiterate its request and urge the State Party to address this as a matter of priority.

A number of recent scientific articles note alarming ongoing ecological changes in Lake Baikal, including proliferation of algae and cyanobacteria blooms. This issue has not been addressed yet in any of the reports submitted by the State Party and it is unclear whether a property-wide monitoring system is in place to detect such changes. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to establish such a monitoring system in order to be able to identify the reasons of such changes and the necessary responses in order to preserve the ecological integrity of the lake.

It is regrettable that the State Party did not provide any information on the existing provisions and regulations for water use and management in Lake Baikal, as was requested by the Committee in its Decision 39 COM 7B.22. It should be noted that draft Resolution of the Government of the Russian Federation “On maximum and minimum water level of Lake Baikal” has recently been prepared and is available on the Federal portal for draft federal regulations and laws. However, the State Party does not provide any information on this legal document which, if adopted, would provide for fluctuations of the water level of the lake within a wider range than currently allowed and would therefore have clear implications for the management and protection of the property and have the potential to directly impact on its OUV. It is recommended that the World Heritage Committee urge the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN detailed information on the current status of the proposed legislation, as well as the assessment that was used to define the proposed water levels and a detailed assessment of their potential impacts on the OUV of the property, including on its freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity, in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and not to approve the legislation until these assessments have been reviewed by IUCN.

It is regrettable that the States Parties of the Russian Federation and Mongolia did not provide any information on the implementation of the recommendations of the 2015 Reactive Monitoring mission. It is recommended that the Committee reiterate its requests in this regard expressed in its Decision 39 COM 7B.22.

On 27 April 2016 the World Heritage Centre sent a letter to the State Party of Mongolia requesting clarifications regarding third party information expressing concerns over the planned hydropower projects, including over the fact that funding for the construction of the Egiin Gol hydropower plant has been secured from a Chinese bank, as well as concerns expressed by the local communities in the Russian Federation who might be negatively affected by the projects. No response was received from the State Party at the time of writing this report.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2016
40 COM 7B.97
Lake Baikal (Russian Federation) (N 754)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 38 COM 7B.76 and 39 COM 7B.22, adopted at its 38th (Doha, 2014) and 39th (Bonn, 2015) sessions respectively,
  3. Welcomes the information that according to the recent amendments to the Federal Law on Environmental Impact Reviews a federal level EIA will be required for any construction and reconstruction project within the natural region around Lake Baikal and that the Water protection zone and the Fisheries protection zone of the lake were extended;
  4. Also welcomes the confirmation that the license of the LLC “Invest-Euro-Company” for the Kholodninskoye deposit was suspended, that the application was officially withdrawn by the company, and that exploration or development of any new deposits within the Central Ecological Zone of Baikal’s natural territory is prohibited, in line with the Committee’s established position that mining and mineral exploration are incompatible with World Heritage status;
  5. Commends the State Party for its efforts to combat the wildfires that occurred in the Baikal region in 2015, but notes with concern that although the natural values of the lake were not significantly damaged, a number of protected areas around the lake appear to have been significantly affected, which could have negatively impacted the integrity of the property, and urges the State Party to assess the impacts from the fires on the Lake ecosystem, taking into account the interrelationship between the lake waters and the forests around the lake, which are included in the property;
  6. Further welcomes the information that new guidelines are being prepared for the future development of management plans for all protected areas around Lake Baikal, and encourages the State Party to build on this process in order to develop an integrated management plan for the property, which should include a fire management and prevention plan;
  7. Also notes with concern the large number of tourism infrastructure projects planned in the special economic zones “Gates of Baikal” and “Baikal Harbours”, requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre the results of the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) for each zone for review by IUCN, and reiterates its request to the State Party to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of all special economic zones within the property, in order to guide all future developments in a coherent manner consistent with the conservation of the property’s OUV, and also urges the State Party to ensure that all EIAs and the SEA include a specific assessment of impacts on OUV in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and identify alternatives that will not have negative impacts on the OUV of the property, and that the SEA takes into account cumulative impacts of all existing and proposed developments;
  8. Regrets that the State Party did not report on the development of a detailed EIA on the future use of the Baikal Paper and Pulp Mill site and its impact on the OUV of the property, as was requested its Decision 38 COM 7B.76 and reiterated in its Decision 39 COM 7B.22, and further urges the State Party to develop such an assessment as a matter of priority and to submit a copy of it to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN as soon as it is completed;
  9. Further notes with concern the recent scientific information about alarming ecological changes in Lake Baikal, including algae and cyanobacteria blooms, and also requests the State Party to develop a property-wide ecological monitoring system in order to identify the causes of such changes and the responses required to preserve the ecological integrity of the Lake;
  10. Also regrets that the State Party did not provide any information on the existing provisions and regulations for water use and management in Lake Baikal, as was requested in its Decision 39 COM 7B.22 in line with the recommendation of the 2015 Reactive Monitoring mission, notes furthermore with concern that a draft Resolution of the Government of the Russian Federation “On maximum and minimum water level of Lake Baikal” has recently been prepared which, if adopted, could have implications for the management and protection of the property and could have potential direct impacts on its OUV, and urges furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre detailed information on the current status of the proposed legislation, as well as the assessment that was used to define the proposed water levels, including an assessment of potential impacts on the OUV of the property, including on its freshwater ecosystem and biodiversity, in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and not to approve the legislation until these assessments have been reviewed by IUCN;
  11. Further regrets that the State Party of Mongolia did not provide updated information on the implementation of other recommendations of the 2015 Reactive Monitoring mission, and also reiterates its requests to the State Party of Mongolia to:
    1. Ensure that the EIA developed for the Egiin Gol Project includes assessment of potential impacts not only on the hydrology, but also on the ecological processes and biodiversity of the property, and specifically on its OUV, and to provide the full EIA report to the World Heritage Centre,
    2. Ensure that the Terms of Reference developed for the preparation of EIAs for the Shuren Hydropower Plant and the Orkhon River projects include a specific assessment of any potential impacts of the projects on the OUV and integrity of the property,
    3. Provide to the World Heritage Centre the EIAs for the Shuren Hydropower Plant and Orkhon river reservoir complex,
    4. Develop an assessment of cumulative impacts of any planned dams and reservoirs in the Selenge river basin that may have an impact on the OUV and integrity of the property and to provide this assessment to the World Heritage Centre,
    5. Not approve any of the projects until the above-mentioned EIAs and assessment of cumulative impacts have been reviewed by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN;
  12. Further reiterates its request to the States Parties of the Russian Federation and Mongolia to jointly develop a SEA for any future hydropower and water management projects which could potentially affect the property, taking into account any existing and planned projects on the territory of both countries;
  13. Further 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 and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017.
Draft Decision: 40 COM 7B.97

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 38 COM 7B.76 and 39 COM 7B.22, adopted at its 38th (Doha, 2014) and 39th (Bonn, 2015) sessions respectively,
  3. Welcomes the information that according to the recent amendments to the Federal Law on Environmental Impact Reviews a federal level EIA will be required for any construction and reconstruction project within the natural region around Lake Baikal and that the Water protection zone and the Fisheries protection zone of the lake were extended;
  4. Also welcomes the confirmation that the license of the LLC “Invest-Euro-Company” for the Kholodninskoye deposit was suspended, that the application was officially withdrawn by the company, and that exploration or development of any new deposits within the Central Ecological Zone of Baikal’s natural territory is prohibited, in line with the Committee’s established position that mining and mineral exploration are incompatible with World Heritage status;
  5. Commends the State Party for its efforts to combat the wildfires that occurred in the Baikal region in 2015, but notes with concern that although the natural values of the lake were not significantly damaged, a number of protected areas around the lake appear to have been significantly affected, which could have negatively impacted the integrity of the property, and urges the State Party to assess the impacts from the fires on the Lake ecosystem, taking into account the interrelationship between the lake waters and the forests around the lake, which are included in the property;
  6. Further welcomes the information that new guidelines are being prepared for the future development of management plans for all protected areas around Lake Baikal, and encourages the State Party to build on this process in order to develop an integrated management plan for the property, which should include a fire management and prevention plan;
  7. Also notes with concern the large number of tourism infrastructure projects planned in the special economic zones “Gates of Baikal” and “Baikal Harbours”, requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre the results of the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) for each zone for review by IUCN, and reiterates its request to the State Party to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of all special economic zones within the property, in order to guide all future developments in a coherent manner consistent with the conservation of the property’s OUV, and also urges the State Party to ensure that all EIAs and the SEA include a specific assessment of impacts on OUV in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and identify alternatives that will not have negative impacts on the OUV of the property, and that the SEA takes into account cumulative impacts of all existing and proposed developments;
  8. Regrets that the State Party did not report on the development of a detailed EIA on the future use of the Baikal Paper and Pulp Mill site and its impact on the OUV of the property, as was requested its Decision 38 COM 7B.76 and reiterated in its Decision 39 COM 7B.22, and further urges the State Party to develop such an assessment as a matter of priority and to submit a copy of it to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN as soon as it is completed;
  9. Further notes with concern the recent scientific information about alarming ecological changes in Lake Baikal, including algae and cyanobacteria blooms, and also requests the State Party to develop a property-wide ecological monitoring system in order to identify the causes of such changes and the responses required to preserve the ecological integrity of the Lake;
  10. Also regrets that the State Party did not provide any information on the existing provisions and regulations for water use and management in Lake Baikal, as was requested in its Decision 39 COM 7B.22 in line with the recommendation of the 2015 Reactive Monitoring mission, notes furthermore with concern that a draft Resolution of the Government of the Russian Federation “On maximum and minimum water level of Lake Baikal” has recently been prepared which, if adopted, could have implications for the management and protection of the property and could have potential direct impacts on its OUV, and urges furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre detailed information on the current status of the proposed legislation, as well as the assessment that was used to define the proposed water levels, including an assessment of potential impacts on the OUV of the property, including on its freshwater ecosystem and biodiversity, in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and not to approve the legislation until these assessments have been reviewed by IUCN;
  11. Further regrets that the State Party of Mongolia did not provide updated information on the implementation of other recommendations of the 2015 Reactive Monitoring mission, and also reiterates its requests to the State Party of Mongolia to:
    1. Ensure that the EIA developed for the Egiin Gol Project includes assessment of potential impacts not only on the hydrology, but also on the ecological processes and biodiversity of the property, and specifically on its OUV, and to provide the full EIA report to the World Heritage Centre,
    2. Ensure that the Terms of Reference developed for the preparation of EIAs for the Shuren Hydropower Plant and the Orkhon River projects include a specific assessment of any potential impacts of the projects on the OUV and integrity of the property,
    3. Provide to the World Heritage Centre the EIAs for the Shuren Hydropower Plant and Orkhon river reservoir complex,
    4. Develop an assessment of cumulative impacts of any planned dams and reservoirs in the Selenge river basin that may have an impact on the OUV and integrity of the property and to provide this assessment to the World Heritage Centre,
    5. Not approve any of the projects until the above-mentioned EIAs and assessment of cumulative impacts have been reviewed by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN;
  12. Further reiterates its request to the States Parties of the Russian Federation and Mongolia to jointly develop a SEA for any future hydropower and water management projects which could potentially affect the property, taking into account any existing and planned projects on the territory of both countries;
  13. Further 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 and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017.
Report year: 2016
Russian Federation
Date of Inscription: 1996
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(ix)(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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