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Western Caucasus

Russian Federation
Factors affecting the property in 2019*
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Illegal activities
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Legal framework
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
  • Management systems/ management plan
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Management systems/ management plan (Lack of Management Plan)
  • Legal framework (Weakening of conservation controls and laws)
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation (Impacts of proposed tourism infrastructure development)
  • Ground transport infrastructure (Road construction)
  • Illegal activities (Deforestation)
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2019
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2019**

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019

On 21 September 2018, the State Party sent a letter to the World Heritage Centre addressing the points raised by the World Heritage Committee in its Decision 42 COM 7B.80, noting the following:

  • Currently no plans exist for establishment of biosphere polygons within the property;
  • No plans exist for construction of large-scale infrastructure on Lagonaki Plateau, nor for development of the property for recreational, tourism or sport purposes;
  • No plans exist for construction of large-scale tourism facilities in protected areas adjacent to the property, including Sochi National Park and Sochi Federal Wildlife Refuge;
  • The reintroduction of the Central Asian leopard continues to be implemented by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in collaboration with several international organizations, however, the State Party stresses the complexity of such reintroduction programmes.

On 18 January and 4 February 2019, the World Heritage Centre sent letters to the State Party regarding third party information, respectively, alleged resumption of construction of the road to Lunnaya Polyana centre within the property and proposed legislative amendments, which may potentially affect several natural properties of the State Party. No response has been received at the time of the drafting of this report.

On 28 January 2019, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/900/documents/, providing the following information:

  • Federal Law 321-FZ, adopted on 3 August 2018, prohibits construction of permanent sport facilities as well as related infrastructure on the territory of national parks. The same law introduced an amendment to the Federal Law 33-FZ from 1994 requiring organizations leasing land plots in national parks for recreational activities to undertake regular actions to prevent negative environmental impacts;
  • It is confirmed that in 2014-2017 the entire Colchic boxwood forest (total area of about 500 ha) in the property was destroyed by an insect pest. Measures to artificially preserve Colchic boxwood are noted and the State Party expresses its readiness to work with IUCN on its restoration;
  • Overall, natural conditions of the property are reported to remain unchanged from 2017-2018. Mountain meadow and alpine landscapes remain well preserved and positive dynamics continue to be observed on Lagonaki Plateau in terms of regeneration of natural plant communities.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2019

It should be recalled that the World Heritage Committee has repeatedly expressed its concerns over reported plans for construction of large-scale infrastructure within the property, considering that these 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.  Furthermore, in its Decision 42 COM 7B.80, the Committee also expressed its concern over the reported lease of land plots for the development of large-scale investment projects related to sport and recreational activities directly bordering the property, and located on the territory of Sochi Federal Wildlife Refuge and Sochi National Park.  In this regard, the State Party’s confirmation that no plans exist for development of the property for recreational, sport or tourism purposes or for construction of large-scale tourism facilities in protected areas adjacent to the property should be welcomed by the Committee. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to confirm the status of the land plots reported to have been leased on the territory of Sochi Federal Wildlife Refuge and Sochi National Park, including the purpose of the lease. It is also recalled that the 2016 IUCN Advisory mission was made aware of plans for construction of large-scale skiing facilities within the property, including by Gazprom and Rosa Khutor companies, and that, in its Decision 41 COM 7B.8, the Committee noted the mission conclusion that these plans would have significant impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property. It is therefore recommended that the Committee request the State Party to confirm whether these companies’ plans have been fully abandoned.

The confirmation by the State Party that construction of permanent sport facilities on the territory of national parks is prohibited by the recently adopted Federal Law is also noted. However, it should be recalled that that Committee had repeatedly expressed its concerns over several recently introduced legislative changes, which might negatively affect the property and other natural properties in the Russian Federation. It is therefore recommended that the Committee reiterate its request to the State Party to provide a comprehensive overview of recently introduced and proposed legislative changes potentially affecting strict nature reserves and other protected areas, including those related to designation of biosphere polygons, as well as excision of lands from the boundaries of protected areas.

Third party information about resumption of the road construction to the Lunnaya Polyana centre within the property raises serious concerns. Noting that no response to the letter from the World Heritage Centre on this matter has been received yet from the State Party, the 2008 mission recommendations and Committee’s Decision 32 COM 7B.25, requesting the State Party to halt further construction of the road to Lunnaya Polyana and to ensure that it is not enlarged or asphalted should be recalled. It is therefore recommended that the Committee request the State Party to submit a response on these concerns to the World Heritage Centre.

Finally, the confirmation that the entire Colchic boxwood forest area within the property has been destroyed by an insect pest, which was introduced during preparations for the Sochi Olympic Games, is noted with utmost concern. It is welcomed that the State Party expressed its readiness to work with IUCN on restoring this type of vegetation within the property and it is recommended that the Committee reiterate its requests to the State Party on this matter expressed in Decision 42 COM 7B.80.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2019
43 COM 7B.18
Western Caucasus (Russian Federation) (N 900)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 32 COM 7B.25, 41 COM 7B.8 and 42 COM 7B.80, adopted at its 32nd (Quebec City, 2008), 41st (Krakow, 2017) and 42nd (Manama, 2018) sessions, respectively,
  3. Welcomes the confirmation provided by the State Party that no plans exist for development of the property for recreational, sport or tourism purposes or for construction of large-scale tourism facilities in protected areas adjacent to the property;
  4. Also recalling that the Committee has on several occasions reiterated its position that the construction of large-scale infrastructure within the property 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 further recalling that the 2016 IUCN Advisory mission discussed plans for construction of large-scale skiing facilities within the property, including by Gazprom and Rosa Khutor companies, and concluded that these would have significant impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, requests the State Party to confirm whether the companies’ plans have been unequivocally abandoned;
  5. Also requests the State Party to confirm the status of the land plots reported to have been leased on the territory of Sochi Federal Wildlife Refuge and Sochi National Park, including the purpose of the lease;
  6. Recalling furthermore Decision 32 COM 7B.25, which urged the State Party to halt further construction of the road to Lunnaya Polyana, further requests the State Party to provide the World Heritage Centre with a response to third party information raising concerns about the resumption of construction of this road within the property;
  7. Noting with utmost concern that the entire area of Colchic Boxwood forest in the property was destroyed by the invasive box tree moth and welcoming the State Party’s readiness to work with IUCN on the restoration of the forest, reiterates its requests to the State Party to:
    1. Develop in cooperation with relevant specialists, including IUCN’s Invasive Species Specialist Group, a set of urgent measures for the restoration of Colchic Boxwood within the property and its surroundings, and to control the box tree moth invasion,
    2. Assess risks posed to the OUV of the property by other potential invasive alien species, which may have also been introduced to the property or the broader region;
  8. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2020, 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 44th session in 2020.
Draft Decision: 43 COM 7B.18

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 32 COM 7B.25, 41 COM 7B.8 and 42 COM 7B.80, adopted at its 32nd (Quebec City, 2008), 41st (Krakow, 2017) and 42nd (Manama, 2018) sessions, respectively,
  3. Welcomes the confirmation provided by the State Party that no plans exist for development of the property for recreational, sport or tourism purposes or for construction of large-scale tourism facilities in protected areas adjacent to the property;
  4. Also recalling that the Committee has on several occasions reiterated its position that the construction of large-scale infrastructure within the property 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 further recalling that the 2016 IUCN Advisory mission discussed plans for construction of large-scale skiing facilities within the property, including by Gazprom and Rosa Khutor companies, and concluded that these would have significant impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, requests the State Party to confirm whether the companies’ plans have been unequivocally abandoned;
  5. Also requests the State Party to confirm the status of the land plots reported to have been leased on the territory of Sochi Federal Wildlife Refuge and Sochi National Park, including the purpose of the lease;
  6. Recalling furthermore Decision 32 COM 7B.25, which urged the State Party to halt further construction of the road to Lunnaya Polyana, further requests the State Party to provide the World Heritage Centre with a response to third party information raising concerns about the resumption of construction of this road within the property;
  7. Noting with utmost concern that the entire area of Colchic Boxwood forest in the property was destroyed by the invasive box tree moth and welcoming the State Party’s readiness to work with IUCN on the restoration of the forest, reiterates its requests to the State Party to:
    1. Develop in cooperation with relevant specialists, including IUCN’s Invasive Species Specialist Group, a set of urgent measures for the restoration of Colchic Boxwood within the property and its surroundings, and to control the box tree moth invasion,
    2. Assess risks posed to the OUV of the property by other potential invasive alien species, which may have also been introduced to the property or the broader region;
  8. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2020, 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 44th session in 2020.
Report year: 2019
Russian Federation
Date of Inscription: 1999
Category: Natural
Criteria: (ix)(x)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2019) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 43COM (2019)
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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