1.         Western Tien-Shan (Kazakhstan,Kyrgyzstan,Uzbekistan) (N 1490)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2016

Criteria  (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/1490/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2008-2008)
Total amount approved: USD 30,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1490/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1490/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 4 February 2020, the States Parties of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan submitted a joint report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1490/documents/ and provides the following information:

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The signing of the MoU on the management and protection of the property between the three States Parties is welcomed. However, it is noted that the planned joint steering committee, referred to in the States Parties’ report as the regional working group, which would assume coordinating functions, is yet to be established. Therefore, it is recommended that the Committee reiterate its request to the States Parties to expedite the establishment of the joint steering committee in order to effectively implement the management objectives listed in the MoU. The consultation with IUCN on regional projects and workshops aimed at building capacity of the States Parties towards effective transnational management of the property is welcomed.

Although the submission of a joint state of conservation report is welcome, it is noteworthy that this report provides no information concerning the Kyrgyz components. It is also recalled that, at its 42nd session, the World Heritage Committee regretted that Kyrgyzstan did not submit a report on the state of conservation of the Kyrgyz components of the property.

While the report provides some information on the changes in the protection regime and management system of Uzbek components of the property, in particular the new role of the “Uzbekistan Temir Yollari” National Railway Company in the management of the Ugam-Chatkal State Biosphere Reserve, the exact governance arrangements and corresponding management regime of these components remain unclear, in particular how the protection regime has changed and the potential resulting impact on the conservation of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property.

The boundary revisions to the Sayram-Ugam National Nature Park in Kazakhstan remain highly concerning. It should be recalled that any proposal for a boundary modification must be submitted formally by the States Parties, in accordance with Paragraphs 163-165 of the Operational Guidelines, and that such a modification would only come into effect if and when it is approved by the Committee. The significant changes introduced at the national level, without the Committee’s approval, to the zoning and protection regime of the Sayram-Ugam National Nature Park, including the excision of more than 60,000 hectares from the property (i.e. ca. 35% of this component) and their inclusion in the buffer zone, would result in part of the property no longer benefitting from an appropriate level of protection, which would constitute a potential danger to the property’s OUV.

The questions surrounding governance and management of the components of the property in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan remain issues of concern that require further assessment, particularly the changes to the management and protection status of the components of the property in the Chatkal State Biosphere Reserve and the possible impact on the property’s OUV resulting from boundary revisions of the Sayram-Ugam National Nature Park, as well as the lack of information on the state of conservation of the components in Kyrgyzstan. It is therefore recommended that the Committee request the States Parties to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to assess the changes in the management regime of the Chatkal State Biosphere Reserve component and the changes in the zoning regime of the Sayram-Ugam National Nature Park, and to verify whether any new threats to the components in Kyrgyzstan have emerged since inscription. During the Reactive Monitoring mission, an opportunity should be sought for the three States Parties’ representatives to meet with the mission experts in order to share an understanding of the current issues and the procedural concerns over the boundary modification and other points raised by the Committee, and to discuss the progress regarding the finalization of the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value for the property.

The development of a joint proposal for a significant boundary modification is noted, along with its stated aims to a) fully correspond to criterion (x); b) follow ecological principles and address connectivity; c) exclude areas originally included for their paleontological values, as previously requested by the Committee; and d) consider the potential to also meet Criterion (ix). It is recommended that the Committee reiterate its request to the States Parties to continue their work in that regard.

Decision Adopted: 44 COM 7B.95

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7B.69, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Welcomes the submission of a joint report on the state of conservation of the property by the three States Parties and their efforts to strengthen transboundary management of the property, including through the signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the management and protection of the property, and reiterates its request to the three States Parties to complete the establishment of the joint steering committee to ensure the implementation of the MoU;
  4. Takes note of the information provided on the changes in the protection regime and the management system of the components of the property in Uzbekistan, but considers that the information provided does not sufficiently clarify whether the new protection status and management system would guarantee the effective conservation of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  5. Notes with utmost concern the excision of a substantial part of Sayram-Ugam National Nature Park in Kazakhstan from the property and its subsequent inclusion in the buffer zone, as these significant changes introduced to the zoning and protection regime of this protected area could affect the property’s OUV, including its conditions of integrity;
  6. Requests the States Parties to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to assess the changes in the management regime of the above-mentioned components of the property in the Chatkal State Biosphere Reserve in Uzbekistan and the Sayram-Ugam National Nature Park in Kazakhstan, to evaluate whether these changes represent a potential danger to the property’s OUV and integrity and to verify whether any new threats to the components in Kyrgyzstan have emerged since inscription, and encourages the States Parties to discuss the progress regarding the finalization of the Statement of OUV for the property;
  7. Also reiterates its request to the States Parties to review and rationalize the boundaries of the components of the property and their buffer zones to ensure that they fully correspond to criterion (x), follow ecological principles and address connectivity, exclude areas originally included for their paleontological values while also considering the potential to meet criterion (ix), and to develop, as a matter of priority, a joint proposal for a significant boundary modification, in accordance with Paragraph 165 of the Operational Guidelines, and also encourages the States Parties to seek further advice from IUCN on the proposal before submitting it to the World Heritage Centre;
  8. Also requests the States Parties to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2022, an updated joint report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 46th session.