1.         Western Caucasus (Russian Federation) (N 900)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1999

Criteria  (ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/900/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/900/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

April 2008: World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; May 2009: High-level visit by Director of the World Heritage Centre and the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee; May 2010: World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; September 2012: World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; November 2016: IUCN Advisory mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/900/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017

On 5 October 2016, following the reception of third party information and the review of IUCN, the World Heritage Centre requested the State Party to clarify the current status of the establishment of any biosphere polygons (areas for the development of socioeconomic activities) within the property as well as the status of decision-making regarding any proposed developments within those polygons.

An IUCN Advisory mission visited the property on 1-3 November 2016 to provide advice with regards to the recent legislative changes and possible impacts of existing development plans on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property as well as any issues related to the property’s boundaries, taking into account the evaluation of past proposals for boundary modification.

On 18 November 2016, the World Heritage Centre sent another letter to the State Party asking it to provide comments on third party information concerning the possible impact of proposed amendments to the Law on Protected Areas, which would change the procedures for modification of boundaries of state nature reserves and national parks and the concerns expressed by third parties that such changes could facilitate exclusion of areas from the Caucasus Strict Nature Reserve for ski resorts development. On 16 February 2017, the World Heritage Centre sent a reminder to the State Party.

On 7 March 2017, the World Heritage Centre sent another letter notifying the State Party that, due to all the above-mentioned pressing conservation issues, a state of conservation report for the property will be presented at the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee and requesting its clarifications with regards to further third party information expressing concerns over a new law which would allow the creation of biosphere polygons within the territory of state nature reserves.

On 17 May 2017, the World Heritage Centre has transmitted further third party information about the leasing of land plots for tourism developments located close to the property’s boundaries.

The State Party had not yet provided any response to these letters at the time of preparation of this report.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The numerous legislative changes regarding protected areas introduced by the State Party in recent years are cause for serious concern, as repeatedly expressed by the Committee since its 35th session in 2011.

In the absence of a response from the State Party to the letters from the World Heritage Centre seeking clarification regarding legislative changes, which might potentially affect the property and the plans for pursuing ski resort developments within the property, and considering that continuous degradation of the legal protection regime of protected areas constituting the property represents a potential danger to the property, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines, it is recommended that the Committee reiterate its concerns and request the State Party to provide detailed information about all recently adopted legislative changes which may affect the property.

The plans for establishing biosphere polygons within the property were presented to the 2016 IUCN Advisory mission, which reviewed them. These proposed polygons included areas where two companies, Gazprom and Rosa Khutor, expressed their interest in developing large-scale skiing infrastructure. Based on the available information, the mission concluded that it is likely that these plans may potentially threaten the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and may have significant impact on its integrity. In this respect, it should also be recalled that the Committee has repeatedly reiterated its position that the installation of capital construction on the Lagonaki Plateau, including Mount Fisht and Oshten (all within the property), would also constitute a case for its inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines (Decisions 38 COM 7B.77 and 40 COM 7B.101), which should also apply to such construction in any other part of the property. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to provide detailed information regarding all relevant legislative changes, the current status of the planned biosphere polygons as well as any plans for tourism infrastructure development within the property. 

Decision Adopted: 41 COM 7B.8

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7B.101, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Notes with concern the recent legislative changes adopted by the State Party, which may weaken the protection regime of the property and recalls its concerns over a number of previous legislative changes potentially affecting the property;
  4. Considers that such continuous degradation of the legal protection regime of protected areas comprising the property represents a potential danger to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines, and requests the State Party to provide detailed information about all recently adopted legislative changes and measures taken to avoid negative impacts on the property;
  5. Notes the conclusions of the 2016 IUCN Advisory mission that the recent plans for development of skiing facilities within the property may have significant impacts on the OUV of the property including its conditions of integrity;
  6. Recalls that the Committee has repeatedly reiterated its position that the installation of capital construction on the Lagonaki Plateau, including Mount Fisht and Oshten, would constitute a case for inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines, and considers that this also applies to such constructions in any other part of the property;
  7. Reiterates its concerns over potential development of large-scale skiing facilities within the property and also requests the State Party to confirm the current status of any existing plans for large-scale tourism and sport infrastructure within the property;
  8. Further 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.