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Natural System of Wrangel Island Reserve

Russian Federation
Factors affecting the property in 2017*
  • Marine transport infrastructure
  • Oil and gas
  • Other Threats:

    Increased human presence

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Lack of Management Plan (issue resolved)
  • Oil and gas (Geophysical prospecting in the marine area surrounding the property)
  • Marine transport infrastructure (Planned construction of a naval base within the property)
  • Increased human presence
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2017
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017

On 31 January 2017, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report for the property, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1023/documents, providing the following information:

  • Further activities were undertaken within the property in 2016 for the provision of facilities, considered necessary, and for cleaning the area of impacts of past human presence on Wrangel Island as well as for ensuring national security. About 1,200 tons of metal garbage were removed from the island. The area where these works are being conducted is reported to be less than 0.0025% of the area of Wrangel Island;
  • The State Party reaffirms that oil exploration and production are prohibited within the boundaries of the property. Seismic exploration undertaken in the East Siberian Sea and the Chukchi Sea is reported to not have any impacts on the property. Oil production is currently not planned in the vicinity of the property;
  • The limited tourism infrastructure which exists within the property was modernized by installing solar panels and a wind-powered generator. There are no plans for further tourism infrastructure development within the property which could affect the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property. The annual amount of tourists visiting the property is around 500 people, and this level of visitation is reported to have no negative impact on the property’s ecosystems;
  • Information is provided on existing programmes within the property, monitoring the flora and fauna, as well as the impacts of climate change.

On 5 October 2016, the World Heritage Centre received an invitation from the State Party for a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property, as requested by the Committee in its Decision 40 COM 7B.98. Due to climatic conditions, such a mission can only be undertaken in July 2017 and therefore its recommendations will not be available for consideration by the Committee at its 41st session.

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

The invitation by the State Party for a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property is welcomed.

The information provided by the State Party that activities for the provision of facilities, considered necessary, have continued within the property raises concerns, even though the area affected by such activities is reported to be less than 0.0025% of Wrangel Island. It should be recalled that in its Decision 40 COM 7B.98, the Committee urged the State Party to halt the construction of facilities and any associated activities until their impacts on the OUV of the property have been assessed through rigorous Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and requested the State Party to submit these EIAs to the World Heritage Centre, for review by IUCN. However, no EIA has so far been submitted by the State Party.

The confirmation by the State Party that oil exploration or exploitation is prohibited within the boundaries of the property is noted, as is the information that the seismic exploration works undertaken in the East Siberian Sea and the Chukchi Sea had no impact on the property. However, no detailed information has been provided by the State Party regarding these oil exploration projects, nor have any EIAs been submitted, despite the Committee’s request.

The information regarding existing tourism infrastructure within the property and the current levels of visitation is noted. While the latter is reported to be low, it should be noted that even limited visitation can have significant negative impacts on very fragile Arctic ecosystems. The planned Reactive Monitoring mission can discuss this issue in more detail and can provide its recommendations on this matter.

Considering that the continued development of facilities and the associated increase in human presence on Wrangel Island continue to pose a potential danger to the very fragile Arctic ecosystems of the property, in accordance with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines, it is recommended that the Committee consider the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger at its 42nd session in 2018, when the recommendations of the mission are available on whether the conditions for such an inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger are met.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2017
41 COM 7B.7
Natural System of Wrangel Island Reserve (Russian Federation) (N 1023rev)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7B.98, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Welcomes the invitation by the State Party for a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property and takes note of the fact that due to climatic conditions, this mission will only be able to visit the property in July 2017 and therefore its recommendations will only be available for consideration by the Committee at its 42nd session in 2018;
  4. Also welcomes the ongoing progress with the removal of metal waste accumulated during the times when limited economic activities were undertaken within the property;
  5. Notes with utmost concern that the construction of facilities has continued within the property and that no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been submitted by the State Party for these projects;
  6. Urges the State Party to halt the construction of facilities and any associated activities until their impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property have been assessed through rigorous EIAs, in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and reiterates its request to the State Party to submit these EIAs to the World Heritage Centre, for review by IUCN;
  7. Regrets that the State Party did not provide detailed information regarding the seismic oil exploration projects in the East Siberian Sea and the Chukchi Sea, nor any EIAs of these projects, and requests the State Party to submit this information to the World Heritage Centre as a matter of priority;
  8. Considers that the ongoing construction of facilities and the associated increase in human presence on Wrangel Island continue to pose a potential danger to the OUV of the property, in accordance with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines;
  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, with a view to considering, in the case of the confirmation of potential or ascertained danger to its OUV, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Draft Decision: 41 COM 7B.7

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7B.98, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Welcomes the invitation by the State Party for a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property and takes note of the fact that due to climatic conditions, this mission will only be able to visit the property in July 2017 and therefore its recommendations will only be available for consideration by the Committee at its 42nd session in 2018;
  4. Also welcomes the ongoing progress with the removal of metal waste accumulated during the times when limited economic activities were undertaken within the property;
  5. Notes with utmost concern that the construction of facilities has continued within the property and that no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been submitted by the State Party for these projects;
  6. Urges the State Party to halt the construction of facilities and any associated activities until their impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property have been assessed through rigorous EIAs, in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and reiterates its request to the State Party to submit these EIAs to the World Heritage Centre, for review by IUCN;
  7. Regrets that the State Party did not provide detailed information regarding the seismic oil exploration projects in the East Siberian Sea and the Chukchi Sea, nor any EIAs of these projects, and requests the State Party to submit this information to the World Heritage Centre as a matter of priority;
  8. Considers that the ongoing construction of facilities and the associated increase in human presence on Wrangel Island continue to pose a potential danger to the OUV of the property, in accordance with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines;
  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, with a view to considering, in the case of the confirmation of potential or ascertained danger to its OUV, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Report year: 2017
Russian Federation
Date of Inscription: 2004
Category: Natural
Criteria: (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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