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Virgin Komi Forests

Russian Federation
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Mining
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Management and institutional factors (changes to the boundaries of Yugyd Va National Park)
  • Mining (gold mining inside the property)
  • Tourism (need for a sustainable tourism management strategy)
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2021**

2010: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission

 

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 29 November 2019, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/719/documents/ and provides the following information:

  • No exploration or extraction of minerals has been carried out within the property, including within the Chudnoe gold deposit area. ZAO ‘Gold Minerals’ has removed mine-drilling equipment from the gold deposit area, however large sized equipment and infrastructure remains. The report also states that the issues of the mining has not been resolved;
  • The 2016-2020 Business Plan and a Management Plan for the Yugyd Va National Park (YVNP) continues to be implemented. The necessity to approve the new boundaries of the protected area and its regulation are also highlighted;
  • No large-scale forestry operations have been undertaken within the boundaries or in the immediate vicinity of the property;
  • No natural disasters, which may have caused significant damage to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, have occurred. The fire station in YVNP continued its operation in 2019, and aviation patrols carried out fire monitoring surveys;
  • Tourism infrastructure has been developed including tourist and hiking routes in both components, and parking, information and warning signs in YVNP. In Pechoro-Ilychskiy Nature Reserve (PINR), a temporary helipad was built to provide direct access for tourists to the Manpupuner plateau. In 2018, 414 tourists visited the plateau via these means, which is reported to have decreased the pressure on the main hiking trail to the plateau. Increased patrols and control of visitors in PINR have resulted in a lower number of park rule violations than in previous years;
  • Long-term ecological and climatic monitoring work has continued, including a new project to survey wild deer population in YVNP;
  • The protection of the South-Eastern part of the border of the Reserve has been improved through an increased patrol effort and the number of violations of the territory protection regime has decreased significantly.

On 5 March 2020, the State Party provided the Integrated Management Plan for the property for the 2017-2031 period, as well as additional information stating that the mining exploration and exploitation license held by ZAO ‘Gold Minerals’ for the Chudnoe area within the property has been suspended as of 16 September 2019 and no equipment remained in the area.

On 14 March 2020, the World Heritage Centre received information from a third party, including a copy of a letter by the Ministry of Natural Resources dated 26 February 2020 responding to the same third party, regarding their request to clarify the status of the mining license for the Chudnoe gold deposit. In this letter, the State Party states that the mining licence for the Chudnoe deposit was suspended and not revoked, pending a possible modification of the boundaries of the YVNP. On 24 April 2020, the World Heritage Centre requested the State Party to provide, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, comments regarding this envisaged modification of the borders of the Yugyd Va National Park. The State Party replied in a letter dated 14 April 2021, informing that options have been considered to withdraw areas explored for industrial activities in the past from the territory of the YVNP for economic development of the region and to include additional forest areas of proportional size but that to date no decisions have been taken to modify the boundaries of the YVNP.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2021

The information provided by the State Party that no exploration or extraction of minerals has been carried out within the property, that the mining license held by ZAO ‘Gold Minerals’ company within the Chudnoe area of the property has been suspended, and that the company has removed mine-drilling equipment from the area of the Chudnoe gold deposit is noted.

However, the continuation or duration of the suspension of the mining license remains unclear. The copy of the above-mentioned letter by the Ministry of Natural Resources addressed to the third party, states that the mining license has been suspended “before changing the boundaries of the YVNP” (sic). In this respect, it is of concern that the State Party report mentions the need “to approve the new boundaries of the protected area and its regulation” and that the additional information provided by the State Party on 14 April 2021 confirms ongoing discussion on consideration to modify the boundaries of YVNP for purposes of industrial development.

It is therefore recommended that the Committee again urge the State Party to urgently ensure the unequivocal revocation of the license for the Chudnoe gold deposit. It is also noted that, whilst the State Party report submitted on 29 November 2019 states that large sized equipment and infrastructure remains in the property, representatives of ZAO ‘Gold Minerals’ stated, in information provided on 5 March 2020, that there is no remaining equipment in the area. Therefore, it is also recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to clarify the presence of, and ensure the complete removal of any remaining large mining equipment or infrastructure, and to continue to ensure the recovery of areas previously occupied by mining equipment and infrastructure, and/or damaged by the mining-related activities undertaken in 2011 and 2012.

It is welcome that the State Party has provided information on the PINR following requests from the Committee to provide updates on this component of the property. It is noted that the State Party has undertaken measures to address the Committee’s request regarding tourism management across all components of the property, and the confirmation that increased patrolling has resulted in a decrease in violations is welcome. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to continue its efforts in ensuring that tourism is effectively managed across all components of the property and to reiterate its request that the State Party develop a sustainable tourism management strategy for the entire property.

The previous submission of the Integrated Management Plan (IMP) for the property is noted. While it is considered that the plan could provide a framework for coordinating management activities across the protected areas comprising the property (fire management, patrolling, environmental education, tourism management), it is unclear what capacities exist for its implementation, particularly for any activities focused on the property’s OUV, beyond the necessary day-to-day management. No information has been provided by the State Party on whether the budgetary deficit for the implementation of the IMP has been addressed, as previously requested by the Committee. However, it is noted that increases in park staff and funding in YVNP are mentioned by the State Party as measures required for the preservation of the property. It is therefore recommended that the Committee reiterate its request that the State Party address the previously reported budget deficit for the implementation of the Plan.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7B.108
Virgin Komi Forest (Russian Federation) (N 719)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7B.78, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Welcomes the efforts made by the State Party to enforce visitor management in the Pechoro-Ilychskiy Nature Reserve component of the property and requests the State Party to develop a sustainable tourism management strategy for the entire property to ensure that tourism is effectively managed across all components;
  4. While noting the suspension of the mining license granted to the ZAO ‘Gold Minerals’ company for exploration and extraction at the Chudnoe gold deposit and the partial removal of mining equipment from the area, expresses its utmost concern that the State Party confirms that it has been considering to modify the boundaries of the Yugyd Va National Park (YVNP) to allow for mining in the area and reiterates its established position that mining exploration and exploitation are incompatible with World Heritage status and urges the State Party to:
    1. unequivocally revoke the mining exploration and exploitation licenses granted for the Chudnoe gold deposit, as requested in previous Committee decisions and refrain from changing the boundary of YVNP to allow for mining,
    2. clarify the presence, and ensure the complete removal, of the ZAO ‘Gold Minerals’ company’s equipment from the property, including any remaining large sized equipment,
    3. continue to restore the areas damaged by mining activities undertaken in 2011 and 2012;
  5. Also recalling previous concerns regarding budgetary constraints for the implementation of the property’s Integrated Management Plan for the 2017-2031 period, and also requests the State Party to ensure that sufficient financial and human resources are available for the implementation of the Plan and to report on this in its next report;
  6. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2022, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 46th session.
Draft Decision: 44 COM 7B.108

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7B.78, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Welcomes the efforts made by the State Party to enforce visitor management in the Pechoro-Ilychskiy Nature Reserve component of the property and requests the State Party to develop a sustainable tourism management strategy for the entire property to ensure that tourism is effectively managed across all components;
  4. While noting the suspension of the mining license granted to the ZAO ‘Gold Minerals’ company for exploration and extraction at the Chudnoe gold deposit and the partial removal of mining equipment from the area, expresses its utmost concern that the State Party confirms that it has been considering to modify the boundaries of the Yugyd Va National Park (YVNP) to allow for mining in the area and reiterates its established position that mining exploration and exploitation are incompatible with World Heritage status and urges the State Party to:
    1. unequivocally revoke the mining exploration and exploitation licenses granted for the Chudnoe gold deposit, as requested in previous Committee decisions and refrain from changing the boundary of YVNP to allow for mining,
    2. clarify the presence, and ensure the complete removal, of the ZAO ‘Gold Minerals’ company’s equipment from the property, including any remaining large sized equipment,
    3. continue to restore the areas damaged by mining activities undertaken in 2011 and 2012;
  5. Also recalling previous concerns regarding budgetary constraints for the implementation of the property’s Integrated Management Plan for the 2017-2031 period, and also requests the State Party to ensure that sufficient financial and human resources are available for the implementation of the Plan and to report on this in its next report;
  6. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2022, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 46th session in 2023.
Report year: 2021
Russian Federation
Date of Inscription: 1995
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(ix)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2019) .pdf
Initialy proposed for examination in 2020
arrow_circle_right 44COM (2021)
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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