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Lake Baikal

Russian Federation
Factors affecting the property in 2017*
  • Fire (widlfires)
  • 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
  • Management systems/ management plan (lack of adequate management system)
  • Legal framework (uncertain legal protection)
  • Pollution
  • Illegal activities (illegal timber harvesting)
  • Gas and oil pipeline project across the World Heritage property (issue resolved)
  • Illegal activities (illegal construction on the lake shore)
  • Illegal activities (illegal sale of land)
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation (tourism development)
  • Water infrastructure (lack of mechanism to control waste water discharge)
  • Fire (wildfires) (wildfires in the Baikal region in 2015)
  • Water infrastructure (Shuren Hydropower Plant and Orkhon river reservoir complex projects (in Mongolia))
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2017
Requests approved: 2 (from 1990-2000)
Total amount approved : 33,200 USD
Missions to the property until 2017**

1998: World Heritage Centre monitoring mission; 2001: Joint UNESCO/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; 2005: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; 2011: Joint UNESCO/IUCN Mission; 2015: IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017

On 13 July 2016, the State Party submitted information on existing provisions and regulations for water use and management of the property in response to the Decision 39 COM 7B.22 and on 31 January 2017, a report on its state of conservation, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1133/documents/. The State Party reports the following:

  • The devastating forest fires in the Baikal region in 2015 affected an area of 153,000 ha. As a response, cooperation between different authorities in the field of fire management has been strengthened and a reform of the forest management and forest fire control measures is planned for 2017-2018;
  • A federal assessment of the design documentation for tourism infrastructure development within the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) “Gates of Baikal” is underway. Some infrastructure has been built within the SEZ “Baikal Harbour”;
  • No decision has been taken yet regarding the future use of the industrial area of the former Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill, closed in 2013. In 2016, a commission was set up to monitor the lignin sludge in the area;
  • Due to extreme water shortage in the Lake Baikal basin over the last three years, the State Party adopted Resolution 626 in January 2016, setting the minimum value of the water level during the low water period at 455.54 m (compared to 456 m in the original resolution from 2001) and the maximum value at 457.85 m (compared to 457 m) for 2016-2017;
  • A decrease in fish stocks has been reported in several parts of the property (Kabansky region, Baikalsky Nature Reserve and Zabaikalsky National Park and in the larger delta of the Selenga River) Algal (Spyrogyra) blooms, accompanied by significant changes in the structure and productivity of coastal aquatic ecosystems, have been observed in some areas and are seen as a result of latent eutrophication in the proximity of recreational sites, among other factors.

On 3 March 2017, the State Party submitted additional information on planned tourism developments in Baïkalsk.

On 23 January 2017, in response to Decision 40 COM 7B.97, the State Party of Mongolia submitted a letter to the World Heritage Centre providing the following information:

  • A study of potential impacts of the Egiin Gol hydropower project on the biodiversity of the property will be conducted in addition to the study of hydrological and ecological impacts of the project, which had already been conducted before the IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission in 2015;
  • Assessment of impacts on Lake Baikal of the Shuren hydropower project and the Orkhon River project was included in the draft Terms of References (ToR) for the preparation of Regional Environmental Assessments (REA) and Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIAs) for these projects. These draft ToR were also submitted to the World Heritage Centre;
  • Since the feasibility studies and the ESIAs for these two projects have not been completed yet, it is stated that an assessment of cumulative impacts of planned hydropower development cannot be undertaken at this stage.

On 28 April 2017, the World Heritage Centre transmitted third party information to the State Party of Mongolia on the Egiin Gol hydropower project. At the time of preparation of this report, the State Party did not yet provide a response.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2017

The information provided by the State Party regarding the regulations on water use and management is noted. The adoption of a resolution increasing the allowed fluctuation between the maximum and minimum values of the water level of Lake Baikal in 2016-2017 raises concerns given the apparent absence of an assessment of potential impacts of such changes on the property.

It is further noted with concern that the ecosystem of the lake is reported to be under significant stress with a decrease in fish stocks and algal blooms being some of the observed results. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to continue identifying the causes of such changes and the responses required to preserve the ecological integrity of the Lake as well as to develop a property-wide ecological monitoring system. At the same time, all potential threats to the ecosystem of the property need to be minimized. It is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to elaborate an assessment of potential impacts of existing regulations on water use and management on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and not to introduce any further changes in the regulations until their effects on the property are fully understood.

Any potential impacts from the closed Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill also need to be minimized. It is therefore essential that the State Party urgently elaborates a comprehensive plan for the future use of the industrial area and the elimination of accumulated waste, and ensures that this plan is subject to a thorough Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which should include a specific assessment of impacts on the OUV of the property, in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment.

Tourism infrastructure development could also add to existing stresses, and it is therefore recommended that the Committee reiterate its request to the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre the results of the EIAs for each SEZ for review by IUCN and develop a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of all SEZs within the property, in order to guide all future developments in a coherent manner consistent with the conservation of the property’s OUV.

The information provided by the State Party of Mongolia regarding the planned additional study of the impacts of the Egiin Gol project on the biodiversity of the property is welcomed, and the planned REAs and ESIAs for the Shuren hydropower project and the Orkhon River project is noted. While inclusion of an assessment of potential impacts of the projects specifically on Lake Baikal in the Terms of Reference for these REAs and ESIAs is noted, it should be recalled that the Committee has repeatedly requested the States Parties of Mongolia and the Russian Federation 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. It is therefore recommended that the Committee request both States Parties to ensure that the results of such transboundary SEA guide the elaboration of ESIAs of any specific hydropower and water management projects, including the planned Shuren hydropower project and the Orkhon river project.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2017
41 COM 7B.6
Lake Baikal (Russian Federation) (N 754)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7B.97, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Takes note of the information provided by the State Party regarding existing regulations on water use and management of Lake Baikal, but notes with concern the resolution increasing the allowed fluctuation between the maximum and minimum water levels of Lake Baikal in 2016-2017 and urges the State Party to elaborate an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of potential impacts of existing water use and management regulations on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and not to introduce any further changes in the regulations until their effects on the property are fully understood;
  4. Also notes with significant concern the reported changes in the property’s ecosystem, including algal blooms and decreases in fish stocks, and reiterates its request to the State Party to develop a property-wide ecological monitoring system in order to identify the scale and causes of such changes and the responses required to preserve the ecological integrity of the property;
  5. Also reiterates its request to the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre the results of the EIAs for each Special Economic Zone (SEZ) located within or overlapping with the property, for review by IUCN, and to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of all SEZs, in order to guide all future developments, including tourism infrastructure projects, in a coherent manner consistent with the conservation of its OUV, which should include a specific assessment of impacts on OUV in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and take into account cumulative impacts of all existing and proposed developments;
  6. 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 in Decision 38 COM 7B.76 and reiterated in Decisions 39 COM 7B.22 and 40 COM 7B.97, and also 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;
  7. Welcomes the intention of the State Party of Mongolia to undertake an additional study on the impacts of the Egiin Gol project on the biodiversity of the property, and notes the information provided by the State Party of Mongolia regarding the Shuren hydropower project and the Orkhon river project, including the Terms of References for the development of Regional Environmental Assessments (REAs) and Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIAs) for these projects;
  8. Reiterates furthermore its request to the States Parties of the Russian Federation and Mongolia to jointly develop a transboundary 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, and requests both States Parties to ensure that the results of such transboundary SEA guide the elaboration of ESIAs of any concrete hydropower and water management projects, including the planned Shuren hydropower project and the Orkhon river project;
  9. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2018, 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: 41 COM 7B.6

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7B.97, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Takes note of the information provided by the State Party regarding existing regulations on water use and management of Lake Baikal, but notes with concern the resolution increasing the allowed fluctuation between the maximum and minimum water levels of Lake Baikal in 2016-2017 and urges the State Party to elaborate an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of potential impacts of existing water use and management regulations on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and not to introduce any further changes in the regulations until their effects on the property are fully understood;
  4. Also notes with significant concern the reported changes in the property’s ecosystem, including algal blooms and decreases in fish stocks, and reiterates its request to the State Party to develop a property-wide ecological monitoring system in order to identify the scale and causes of such changes and the responses required to preserve the ecological integrity of the property;
  5. Also reiterates its request to the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre the results of the EIAs for each Special Economic Zone (SEZ) located within or overlapping with the property, for review by IUCN, and to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of all SEZs, in order to guide all future developments, including tourism infrastructure projects, in a coherent manner consistent with the conservation of its OUV, which should include a specific assessment of impacts on OUV in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and take into account cumulative impacts of all existing and proposed developments;
  6. 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 in Decision 38 COM 7B.76 and reiterated in Decisions 39 COM 7B.22 and 40 COM 7B.97, and also 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;
  7. Welcomes the intention of the State Party of Mongolia to undertake an additional study on the impacts of the Egiin Gol project on the biodiversity of the property, and notes the information provided by the State Party of Mongolia regarding the Shuren hydropower project and the Orkhon river project, including the Terms of References for the development of Regional Environmental Assessments (REAs) and Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIAs) for these projects;
  8. Reiterates furthermore its request to the States Parties of the Russian Federation and Mongolia to jointly develop a transboundary 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, and requests both States Parties to ensure that the results of such transboundary SEA guide the elaboration of ESIAs of any concrete hydropower and water management projects, including the planned Shuren hydropower project and the Orkhon river project;
  9. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2018, 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: 2017
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 (2017) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 41COM (2017)
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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