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Western Caucasus

Russian Federation
Factors affecting the property in 2008*
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • 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

a) Lack of management plan;

b) Weakening of conservation controls and laws;

c) Impacts of proposed tourism infrastructure development for Olympic Games;

d) Road construction;

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2008
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2008**

2008: Joint UNESCO World Heritage Centre / IUCN mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2008

The State Party submitted a report on 15 February 2008. This report presented information on the status of the buffer zone and boundaries, Lagonaki plateau, management plan, management and use zoning, Biosphere Scientific Centre, roads, and Sochi 2014 Olympic Games developments.

As requested by the Committee (Decision 31 COM 7B.32)a joint UNESCO World Heritage Centre / IUCN mission was carried out from 21 to 25 April 2008. The mission team assessed the state of conservation of this property and the factors affecting the outstanding universal value and integrity including: (a) management planning; (b) legislation; (c) potential impacts of tourism infrastructure development for the Olympic Games; (d) other developments underway and planned, including in Lunnaya Poliana and Lagonaki Plateau; and (e) logging activities. The mission report will be available at https://whc.unesco.org/archive/2008. The mission findings include concern over the following issues:

a) Lack of management plan

The State Party noted in its report that the management plan is due for completion in 2008. However, this covers only the Kavkaizky Biosphere Reserve and not the other protected areas comprising the property. Hence, it is imperative that a comprehensive management plan be developed covering all the six components of the property.

b) Weakening of conservation controls and laws

The buffer zone of the property in the Kavkazsky State Nature Biosphere Reserve of the Adygea Republic was established through Decree 322 in 1996. However, this decree was repealed by Decree 174 in 1998. The mission discussed the issues surrounding the status of this buffer zone and there is an urgent need to reinstate its legal protection, as it is a part of the inscribed property. There is also a need to strengthen the legal protection of those parts of the Sochi National Park which were formerly designated as the buffer zone of the Kavkaizky Biosphere Reserve and also to consider designating them as the buffer zone of the property.

c) Impact of tourism infrastructure development, particularly for the Olympic Games

While the 2008 State Party report stated that the 2014 Olympic Games development plans would have no effect on the property, the mission found that developments plans including the Sliding Centre (luge-bobsleigh), mountain Olympic village, and related infrastructure would affect some areas within the property, the boundary of the property, and winter wildlife feeding grounds and migration corridors of wildlife from the property. The Sliding Center as well as the road facilities for its access, located in the adjoining Sochi National Park and in the immediate proximity of the Southern boundary of the property, would adversely affect the biological processes that guarantee the integrity of the property and place it under potential danger. Alternative locations for the Olympic village outside the national park were discussed but no decisions have been made on the alternative sites.

IUCN and the World Heritage Centre note that there are extensive threats to the property in the northern area governed by the Adygae Republic and near Grushevy Ridge related to the Olympic Games developmentsas well as construction of a road and bridge at its Southern boundary. Also, future infrastructure plans for roads and tourism development would seriously degrade the integrity of the property and threaten the outstanding universal value of the property.

d) Developments, underway and planned, including in Lunnaya Polyana and Lagonaki Plateau;

A road to Lunnaya Polyana in the Northern section of the property is currently planned to be extended and developed. While Decree 274 of 1997 prohibits any activity leading to the disturbance of integrity of nature monuments, the existence in old plans of a forestry road dating back to the 1920s is being used to allow the rebuilding of a road to the Biosphere Scientific Center across the Pshekha and Pshekhashkha Riverheads Nature Monument. The road would fragment habitat and disturb wildlife populations if further developed and if its use intensifies. In accordance with paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines the State Party should provide prior information to the World Heritage Committee of its intention to undertake restoration or construction works that may affect the outstanding universal values and integrity of the property.

e) Logging activities

Illegal logging has been identified in several locations associated with the upgradation of the old forestry road. Satellite imagery showing some of the areas logged, were provided to the State Party authorities accompanying the mission.

Based on the threats identified by the mission specific priority recommendations are included in the draft decision.

The following additional other recommendations of the mission should also be implemented by the State Party to strengthen protection and management of the property:

i) Complete the on going delimitation process of the property by the end of 2008;

ii) Finalise and implement a Management Plan for the property by December 2009, to ensure the six protected areas comprising the Property are effectively managed in line with a common vision and objectives;

iii) Strengthen the legal protection of those parts of the Sochi National Park which were formerly designated as the buffer zone of the Kavkaizky Biosphere Reserve and also consider including them as the buffer zone of the property. The State Party should submit a proposal of designation of this buffer zone for approval of the World Heritage Committee;

iv) Develop a tourism strategy and comprehensive plan to address the current and future impacts of tourism on the outstanding universal value of the property; all signs and publicity that promote the development of ski and tourism facilities inside the property, should be immediately removed from the field;

v) Deny approval for the construction of roadway or railway lines, whether related or not to the 2014 Winter Olympics, whose alignment is proposed to pass through the Property or on its immediate proximity;

If development continues, as planned in the proposal reviewed by the mission, the impact on the outstanding universal value and integrity of the property will need to be reviewed. Conditions may exist for addition of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Finally, in addition to the recommendations to the State Party, the mission recommends that a position statement be adopted, based on the example of the 2003 ICMM statement on mining and protected areas. The World Heritage Committee should request the International Olympic Committee to develop principles and guidelines to enhance the preservation of the World Heritage properties when the Olympic Games venues are located close to World Heritage properties. It should also invite the International Olympic Committee to work with relevant international organizations, in particular IUCN, ICOMOS and ICCROM, on this task.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2008
32 COM 7B.25
Western Caucasus (Russian Federation) (N 900)

The World Heritage Committee,

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

2. Recalling Decision 31 COM 7B.32, adopted at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007),

3. Notes the current and potential threats to the property from roads, logging and lack of effective management;

4. Welcomes the recent decision of the State Party to change plans concerning the location of the Sliding Center (luge-bobsleigh), Olympic Mountain Village and the Biathlon Stadium from close proximity to the property and to relocate them to a new location;

5. Urges the State Party to halt all activities affecting the values and integrity of the property, in particular, the extensive risks to the property from the current plans for the developments for 2014 Winter Olympic Games, and road plans;

6. Requests the State Party to implement all the recommendations of the 2008 monitoring mission as a matter of urgency, and in particular the following:

a) halt further construction of the road to Lunnaya Polyana, and ensure it is not enlarged, asphalted and used for recreational use, and the traffic is strictly regulated;

b) restore the legal protection for the buffer zone of the property and ensure that it is managed fully in accordance with its World Heritage status;

c) stop illegal logging of forests, rehabilitate the logged areas and monitor their ecological recovery;

d) abandon plans for recreational use and development in Lagonaki Plateau, Mt. Fisht and Mt. Oshten areas, and ensuring that the use of infrastructure and equipment already existing on site is strictly limited;

e) ensure that the Biosphere Centre built at Lunnaya Polyana is used for management, research and monitoring, or visitor information purposes only, and not converted into a recreational facility;

f) prevent construction of facilities and infrastructure related to the 2014 Winter Olympics within or in the proximity of the World Heritage property, especially in very sensitive areas like Grushevy ridge;

g) identify alternative locations to the proposed locations of the Olympic Mountain Village, the Sliding Center and the Biathlon stadium, as well as associated roads and infrastructure, located in the adjoining Sochi National Park and in the immediate proximity of the Southern boundary of the property. Suitable international biodiversity experts should be involved with this process to enhance transparency and credibility;

h) subject all construction projects of the 2014 Winter Olympics facilities and infrastructure to a full and independent Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) procedure which explicitly assesses the likely impacts of projects on the Outstanding Universal Value and integrity of the property, as well as on the Sochi National Park;

7. Requests the Director of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN to develop a dialogue with the International Olympic Committee to put in place an agreement regarding Olympics and World Heritage to parallel the ICMM position statement on the prohibition of mining in World Heritage Sites;

8. Also requests the State Party to provide the World Heritage Centre with copies of all new infrastructure planning and Environmental Impact Assessment documents, to include summary translations in one of the two working languages of the Convention for review as soon as these documents are available and before construction begins;

9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2009, a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property and progress in finding alternative locations for the Olympic Games development and infrastructure, and all the other recommendations of the 2008 monitoring mission, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009.

Draft Decision: 32 COM 7B.25

The World Heritage Committee,

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

2. Recalling Decision 31 COM 7B.32, adopted at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007),

3. Notes with concern the current and potential threats to the property from Olympic development, roads, logging and lack of effective management;

4. Urges the State Party to halt all activities affecting the values and integrity of the property, in particular, the extensive risks to the property from the current plans for the developments for 2014 Winter Olympic Games, and road plans;

5. Requests the State Party to implement all the recommendations of the 2008 monitoring mission as a matter of urgency, and in particular the following:

a) Halt further construction of the road to Lunnaya Polyana, and ensure it is not enlarged, asphalted and used for recreational use, and the traffic is strictly regulated;

b) Restore the legal protection for the buffer zone of the property and ensure that it is managed fully in accordance with its World Heritage status;

c) Stop illegal logging of forests, rehabilitate the logged areas and monitor their ecological recovery;

d) Abandon plans for recreational use and development in Lagonaki Plateau, Mt. Fisht and Mt. Oshten areas, and ensuring that the use of infrastructure and equipment already existing on site is strictly limited;

e) Ensure that the Biosphere Centre built at Lunnaya Polyana is used for management, research and monitoring, or visitor information purposes only, and not converted into a recreational facility;

f) Prevent construction of facilities and infrastructure related to the 2014 Winter Olympics within or in the proximity of the World Heritage property, especially in very sensitive areas like Grushevy ridge;

g) Identify alternative locations to the proposed locations of the Olympic Mountain Village, the Sliding Center and the Biathlon stadium, as well as associated roads and infrastructure, located in the adjoining Sochi National Park and in the immediate proximity of the Southern boundary of the property. Suitable international biodiversity experts should be involved with this process to enhance transparency and credibility;

h) Subject all construction projects of the 2014 Winter Olympics facilities and infrastructure to a full and independent environmental impact assessment (EIA) procedure which explicitly assesses the likely impacts of projects on the outstanding universal value and integrity of the property, as well as on the Sochi National Park;

6. Requests the Director of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN to develop a dialogue with the International Olympic Committee to put in place an agreement regarding Olympics and World Heritage to parallel the ICMM position statement on the prohibition of mining in World Heritage Sites;

7. Also requests the State Party to provide the World Heritage Centre with copies of all infrastructure planning and environmental impact assessment documents, to include summary translations in one of the two working languages of the Convention for review as soon as these documents are available and before constructioin begins;

8. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2009, a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property and progress in finding alternative locations for the Olympic Games development and infrastructure, and all the other recommendations of the 2008 monitoring mission, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009.

Report year: 2008
Russian Federation
Date of Inscription: 1999
Category: Natural
Criteria: (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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