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Lake Baikal

Russian Federation
Factors affecting the property in 2008*
  • Housing
  • Illegal activities
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Land conversion
  • Legal framework
  • Major linear utilities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Surface water pollution
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Lack of adequate management regime;

b) Uncertain legal protection;

c) Pollution;

d) Illegal timber harvesting;

e) Gas and oil pipeline project across the World Heritage property;

f) Illegal construction on the Lake shore;

g) Illegal sale of land;

h) Tourism development. 

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2008
Requests approved: 2 (from 1990-2000)
Total amount approved : 33,200 USD
Missions to the property until 2008**

1998: World Heritage Centre monitoring mission; 2001 and 2005: World Heritage Centre / IUCN monitoring missions.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2008

The State Party submitted its report on the state of conservation of the property on 15 February 2008. The following key conservation issues are noted for the property.

a) Management regime

The membership of the Interdepartmental Commission for the protection of Lake Baikal was approved in August 2007 and a Work Plan for 2007-2008 adopted. The Commission met in October 2007 to consider four main issues: (1) a draft amendment to conform all other legislative acts of the Russian Federation to “On the Protection of Lake Baikal”; (2) a draft federal target program “Protection of Lake Baikal and socio-economic development of the Baikal natural area," including tourism infrastructure development, and upgrading the monitoring system for Lake Baikal; (3) strengthened control over the Baikalksy Pulp and Paper Mill (BPPM); and (4) an environmental work plan for spatial planning and zoning of the central ecological zone. The State Party report did not provide clear information on the status of these activities or propose timelines for their implementation.

Whilst this meeting is welcome it is clear that improvements to the management regime for the property are still required.

b) Uncertain legal protection

The World Heritage Committee (31 COM 7B.31) requested the State Party to clarify potential amendments to the three federal laws entitled “On Environmental Impact Assessment”, “On Special Economic Zones in the Russian Federation” and “On Protection of Lake Baikal” (referred to below as the Baikal Law), as these changes might affect and potentially reduce the protective status of Lake Baikal. In its report, the State Party noted steps taken to date to harmonise laws which were inconsistent with the protection of the property. The State Party has not confirmed the timeline for completing this review and implementation of its findings. Steps taken to date focus on improving the regulations for environmental protection, ensuring rational nature resource management within the Baikal nature area, and introducing a legal and administrative framework for tourism management.

It appears that the Resolution 643 (30.8.2001) of the Baikal Law “On adoption of the list of activity types prohibited in the central ecological zone of the Baikal natural area” may not be consistent with both other parts of the Baikal Law or other relevant laws on environmental assessment. To address this problem, the State Party proposes to make environmental impact assessments obligatory within the Central Ecological Zone for projects of construction, reconstruction, or enlargement of economic entities.

It has been reported that the list of prohibited activities stated under Resolution 643 of the Baikal Law may be subject to exemptions in favour of development activities. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN request the State Party to provide translations, in one of the two working languages of the Convention, of the relevant clauses in the laws pertaining to tourism development or other economic activities within the boundaries of the property. It is possible that one such exemption could relate to mining activity. It is important to emphasise the importance of ensuring that mining continue to be prohibited within the property. In particular, the operation of the large Kholodninskoe zinc and lead deposit would have severe negative effects on water quality within the property and could consequently affect public health and the outstanding universal values and integrity of the property. There is an urgent need for the State Party to clarify the status of this concession and its policies towards mining.

Inconsistencies also exist with regional laws and regulations relating to Special Economic Zones and tourism for the districts and republics in the Lake Baikal Natural Area, including the regulations for establishing a special economic zone for tourism development and associated infrastructure in the Irkutsk Region and the Republic of Buryatia. Decisions on land use and development at the district level do not always consider Federal Government Resolutions. To address this, a draft Baikal Coordination Procedure has been proposed which aims to prevent and avoid infringements of the law. The draft procedure was planned for review by the Baikal Commission in March 2008. Tte World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that it is important for the State Party to clarify these inconsistencies and their implications for the management of the property.

c) Pollution

Major sources of pollution continue to affect the property, the most severe being air pollution, sewage and waste-water, most notably from Baikalksy Pulp and Paper Mill (BPPM), and the pollution load in the Selenga River.

The State Party notes progress in measures to reduce the impacts from the BPPM plant. The establishment of a closed water-cycle for the mill has been completed. Unfortunately, the system cannot be put into service before construction of the Baikalsk municipal wastewater treatment facilities is completed. Lack of budget for this project has prevented its completion and additional funds are still required. With the closed water system not yet in use the total volume of sewage water disposal by BPPM amounted to just under 38 million cubic metres in 2007, which represents a 3% increase from 2006. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN remain seriously concerned about the further delays in addressing the pollution by the BPPM.

With regard to the Selenga river, the State Party notes that 40% of the chemical load of the river originates in Mongolia. Some progress in transboundary cooperation and data sharing is evident through both States Parties conducting parallel monitoring and sharing hydro-chemical and hydro-geological data. Lead pollution has been identified during water sampling of the river although it remains unclear if the State Parties have included monitoring of other heavy metals, polyaromatic carbohydrates and organochlorine compounds in their work, as requested by the 2005 monitoring mission.

The State Party reported limited progress on implementing the other recommendations of the 2005 mission, in particular to diminish and control other sources of pollution affecting the property. Ground water contamination and sewage disposal into surface waters remain issues of concern, and there is a need for further investment in sewage treatment plants. The State Party has allocated funds specifically for sewage treatment facilities in tourism destinations.

d) Illegal timber harvesting

The State Party has budgeted funds for forest restoration activities in the Irkutsk Region for the period 2008-2012 which should benefit over 16,000 ha of the property.

e) Gas and oil pipeline project across the World Heritage property

No plans are under consideration for construction of gas and oil pipelines.

f) Illegal constructions and sale of land

The State Party reported that limited information was available on land ownership. While most land was publicly owned, reported private land ownership was 5% higher in 2007 than in 2005 and this affected 9,000 ha of land. However, the legality of these claims on land ownership is questionable as they do not appear to be properly registered. The State Party also reported that inspections in Olkhon District identified leasing of land for construction for tourism and recreation that had not followed the specified legal procedures. It is unclear what impact the Federal Act of October 30, 2007 № 240-FZ, Federal Acts "On special economic zones in Russian Federation" and "On transfer of lands and land plots from one category to another" will have on land ownership, land use and construction activities

g) Tourism

The Districts of Irkutsk, and Pribaikalsky have each passed special economic zone resolutions to promote tourism development. However, since this time the Law on the Special Economic Zone for Baikal has been amended to enhance protection of the property. It is possible that these laws now contradict each other. There is still no legal and administrative framework to manage recreation and tourism within the property, nor a comprehensive strategy or plan for sustainable tourism. In the absence of these management tools, inappropriate, badly designed and poorly located development has the potential to create significant impacts as well as not providing appropriate quality of experience to visitors. Illegal construction is also associated with the existing tourism infrastructure.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN support the efforts of the Baikal Commission to improve the management of the property, address inconsistencies in legal regimes and to develop tourism infrastructure and plans. However, the integrity of the property continues to be affected by water, soil, solid waste and air pollution, and the lack of coherent zoning and management for development, including for sustainable tourism and associated infrastructure. 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2008
32 COM 7B.24
Lake Baikal (Russian Federation) (N 754)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-08/32.COM/7B.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 30 COM 7B.3, adopted at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007),

3. Welcomes the steps taken by the State Party to implement some of the recommendations from the 2005 monitoring mission, but notes that many have not yet been fully addressed;

4. Urges the State Party to implement the remaining recommendations effectively;

5. Requests the State Party to complete its review of the legal provisions relevant to the property and to ensure that the law "On protection of Lake Baikal" and other laws and regulations are effectively implemented ;

6. Also requests the State Party to provide detailed information on any exemptions or amendments to the prohibited activities listed in Resolution 643 of the Baikal Law, and to confirm that activities incompatible with the World Heritage status, including mining, will continue to be prohibited;

7. Encourages the State Party to ensure adequate funding for management and monitoring of the property;

8. Also urges the State Party to finalise, as soon as possible, the municipal sewage treatment facilities to enable the operation of the closed water system within the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill;

9. Further requests the State Party to set up legal and administrative frameworks to regulate tourism and recreation, to urgently develop and adopt effective planning regulations, and to establish a sustainable tourism strategy for the property;

10. Requests moreover the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2009, a clear and detailed report on the state of conservation of the property addressing the points above, and including the status of the Kholodninksoe zinc and lead deposit, and outlining further progress made in implementing the remaining recommendations of the joint 2005 World Heritage Centre / IUCN mission, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009.

Draft Decision: 32 COM 7B.24

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-08/32.COM/7B.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 30 COM 7B.3, adopted at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007),

3. Welcomes the steps taken by the State Party to implement some of the recommendations from the 2005 monitoring mission, but notes that many have not yet been fully addressed;

4. Urges the State Party to implement the remaining recommendations effectively;

5. Requests the State Party to complete its review of the legal provisions relevant to the property and to ensure that the law “On protection of Lake Baikal” and other laws and regulations are effectively implemented

6. Also requests the State Party to provide detailed information on any exemptions or amendments to the prohibited activities listed in Resolution 643 of the Baikal Law, and to confirm that activities incompatible with the World Heritage status, including mining, will continue to be prohibited;

7. Encourages the State Party to ensure adequate funding for management and monitoring of the property;

8. Also urges the State Party to finalise, as soon as possible, the municipal sewage treatment facilities to enable the operation of the closed water system within the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill;

9. Further requests the State Party to set up legal and administrative frameworks to regulate tourism and recreation, to urgently develop and adopt effective planning regulations, and to establish a sustainable tourism strategy for the property;

10. Requests moreover the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2009, a clear and detailed report on the state of conservation of the property addressing the points above, and including the status of the Kholodninksoe zinc and lead deposit, and outlining further progress made in implementing the remaining recommendations of the joint 2005 World Heritage Centre / IUCN mission, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009.

 

Report year: 2008
Russian Federation
Date of Inscription: 1996
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(ix)(x)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 32COM (2008)
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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