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 2023

On 4 August 2023, the States Parties submitted a joint report on the state of conservation of the property, a summary of which is available here: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1490/documents/, and which reports the following:

Kazakhstan:

Kyrgyzstan:

Uzbekistan:

On 6 July 2023, the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ecology and Technical Supervision of the Kyrgyz Republic presented transnational cooperation for the conservation of the Western Tien-Shan, including a report on three meetings of the Regional Committee held in 2021, 2022 and 2023 respectively, during an online workshop for the project ‘Heritage for Peace: Enhancing Transboundary and Regional Cooperation for Natural and Mixed World Heritage Sites in Asia’, organised by the World Heritage Centre in the framework of the UNESCO/Republic of Korea Funds-in-Trust.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The establishment of the Regional Committee is welcomed. The transboundary collaboration, including in cooperation with IUCN, on regional projects and workshops aimed at building capacity of the States Parties towards effective transboundary management of the property is also welcomed, and should be encouraged further, in particular with a view to developing the transboundary integrated management plan for the property.

Recalling the utmost concern expressed by the Committee in its Decision 44 COM 7B.95 at the excision of a substantial part of Sayram-Ugam National Nature Park in Kazakhstan from the property (more than 60,000 hectares from the property (i.e. ca. 35% of this component) for inclusion in the buffer zone), it is regrettable that there is no further information provided in this regard. It has therefore not been possible to establish whether there may have been any negative impacts to the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) as a result, but it is likely that part of the property is now without an adequate protection status, and it should be recalled that the removal of the legal protection of a property may constitute potential danger to the property in line with Paragraph 180(b) (i) of the Operational Guidelines. It should also be reiterated again that any proposal for a boundary modification must be submitted formally to the World Heritage Centre 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. It is therefore urgent that the State Party of Kazakhstan provides further information on this boundary change, including detailed information on the legal protection status of the part which was moved to the buffer zone.

Whilst the report provides some information on the protection regime and management system of Uzbek components of the property, the governance arrangements and corresponding management regime of the component remain unclear, in particular the role of the “Uzbekiston Temir Yullari” National Railway Company in the management of the Ugam-Chatkal State Biosphere Reserve. The State Party should be requested to provide detailed information on the protection regime of the component, including any changes from the time of inscription and how the governance arrangements, and corresponding management measures, will ensure the effective protection of the OUV.

It is notable that there is no updated information on the previously reported plan to develop a joint proposal for a significant boundary modification. It is recommended therefore that the Committee reiterate its request to the States Parties to develop, as a matter of priority, a joint proposal for a significant boundary modification, to fully correspond to criterion (x), following ecological principles and addressing connectivity, and exclude areas originally included for their paleontological values; and consider the potential to also meet criterion (ix), in accordance with Paragraph 165 of the Operational Guidelines.

Recalling the request of the Committee to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to assess the issues noted above, it is regrettable that the States Parties have yet to invite the mission. The States Parties should be urged to invite the mission as soon as possible to review the changes in the management regime in the Uzbek components 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.

Decision Adopted: 45 COM 7B.85

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/23/45.COM/7B.Add.2,
  2. Recalling Decisions 42 COM 7B.69 and 44 COM 7B.95 adopted at its 42nd (Manama, 2018) and extended 44th (Fuzhou/online, 2021) sessions respectively,
  3. Welcomes the establishment of the joint Regional Committee for the management of the property, and requests the States Parties to continue collaboration towards the joint management of the property, in particular to develop the transboundary integrated management plan for the property;
  4. Expresses again its utmost concern at 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 Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), including its conditions of integrity, and recalling that the removal of the legal protection of a property may constitute potential danger to the property in line with Paragraph 180(b) (i) of the Operational Guidelines, also requests the State Party of Kazakhstan to provide further information on this boundary change at the national level, including detailed information on the legal protection status of the part which was moved to the buffer zone;
  5. Further requests the State Party of Uzbekistan to provide detailed information on the protection regime of the Bashkyzylsay and Maidantal components, including any changes from the time of inscription and how the governance arrangements, and corresponding management measures, ensure the effective protection of the OUV;
  6. 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;
  7. Also reiterates its requests to 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 and Ugam-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;
  8. Finally requests the States Parties to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2024, 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 47th session.