1.         Volcanoes of Kamchatka (Russian Federation) (N 765bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1996

Criteria  (vii)(viii)(ix)(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/765/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/765/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

1997: IUCN fact-finding mission; 2004: World Heritage Centre / IUCN joint mission; 2007: World Heritage Centre / IUCN joint mission.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Illegal salmon fishing;

b) Gold mining;

c) Gas pipeline;

d) Development of a geothermal power station;

e) Forest fires;

f) Boundary changes;

g) Construction of the Esso-Palana road.

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/765/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2012

On 14 March 2012, a report on the state of conservation of the property was submitted by the State Party. The report only provides information on the 4 components of the property managed by the regional authorities (Nalychevo, South Kamchatka, Bystrinsky and Kluchevskoy), which form together the Kamchatka Nature Park, but does not provide any data on the two components managed by the federal state, Kronotsky Strict Nature Reserve and the South Kamchatka Wildlife Refuge. The following information is provided:

a) Legal protection and management

The State Party recalls that in 2009 the “Kamchatka NaturePark was formed including four of the six protected areas making up this serial property. It clarifies that, while the joint Regional State Budgetary Institution has already assumed control of the four Nature Parks, a joint NaturePark has not been formally established yet, but notes that the Regulation for the Kamchatka NaturePark is currently under consideration by the Kamchatka Krai Administration. The State Party further reports that following revision of boundaries in 2010, the combined area of the four Nature Parks is 2,513,658 ha, which is significantely less than the total area 2,526,150 ha of these components as currently inscribed on the World Heritage List. No request for boundary revision was submitted and no copy of the draft Regulation and no current map of the property was provided by the State Party, as requested in Decision 34 COM 7B.23. The State Party did not report on progress with enacting a national law for the management of all natural World Heritage properties on its territory, as suggested by Decision 34 COM 7B.23.

The report of the State Party indicates that coordination of the management of the four regional Nature Parks is progressing, but information on progress in this area for the property as a whole, which also includes two additional federally administred protected areas, is not provided. As management, governance and jurisdiction issues have been identified by the 2007 monitoring mission as underlying causes for most of the direct pressures on the property, the lack of information on progress in the implementation of the 2007 mission recommendations suggests that the property’s Outstanding Universal Value and integrity, particularly in relation to criteria (ix) and (x) remain of concern. 

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN further note the new Federal Law No. 365-FZ dated 30 November 2011, which has significantly weakened the protection regime of Strict Nature Reserves, making it possible to construct large scale tourism infrastructure within these reserves. They consider that issue should be addressed at federal level as it affects the protection status of all natural World Heritage sites in the Russian Federation.Human resources and budgets of the property

The State Party reports that the combined staff of the four Nature Parks remained constant at 37 since 2009, and that the budget increased by approximately 20% to 32.32 million rubles (1.1 million US dollars) between 2010 and 2011, mainly due to annual inflation and staff salary increases. The State Party further notes that the 20 rangers of the four Nature Parks increased the number of field operations from 182 to 988 between 2010 and 2011, detected more than twice as many legal violations and almost quadrupled the amount of fines imposed in the same period. The State Party does not provide new information on the resourcing of Kronotskiy Strict Nature Reserve or the South Kamchatka Wildlife Refuge, the two other protected areas of the serial property.

The reported current staff numbers of the Nature Parks are essentially the same as in 2007 (36) and hence remain insufficient for such a large area (one staff member per 68,000 ha). The budget allocation for the Nature Parks was approximately 20% higher in 2011 than in 2007, but as this is mainly due to inflation and salary increases there is still a considerable funding gap. This indicates that the capacity of the now joint administration of the four regional Nature Parks has only slightly improved since the 2007 reactive monitoring mission, and that the conclusion of the mission that the Nature Parks do not afford an adequate level of protection to the property remains the case.

b) Development of hiking and tourism infrastructure

The State Party notes that visitor numbers to the four Nature Parks increased by 7% to 24,290 between 2010 and 2011. The State Party provides information about the establishment of a network of documented tourism and hiking routes in the four Nature Parks. It further notes that tourism numbers are monitored and that the routes have been designed to reduce human-induced pressures, but provides no further detail. No information on a comprehensive tourism management plan for the property is provided by the State Party. 

Decision 34 COM 7B.23 requested the State Party to develop a comprehensive tourism management plan that balances the OUV of the property with its touristic potential.  Information supplied to IUCN indicates plans to develop mountain ski resorts in four locations in Kamchatka, including in close proximity to the property at Avachinskiy Volcano which is located on the boundary of Nalychevo Nature Park. In light of the proximity and the potential impact of at least one of these developments on the OUV and integrity of the property, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider the need to develop a comprehensive sustainable tourism development plan even more urgent. 

c) Poaching of salmon and other wildlife

The State Party states that the ecosystems of the Nature Parks making up the property are virtually intact, and that their overall biota and animal populations are at a natural average level and raise no serious concern. It does not provide data to corroborate this general statement, such as information about the trends of major wildlife populations within the property since inscription, as requested by the Committe at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010).

The State Party notes that major factors affecting the OUV of the property include salmon and caviar poaching (which has reportedly become extensive over the last ten years), game poaching and illegal logging, but provides no statistics on any of these factors. The State Party mentions a protection strategy for wildlife within the protected areas, without providing detail, but does not mention the inter-institutional anti-poaching brigades highlighted by the 2007 monitoring mission as a promising approach to control poaching. The information provided by the State Party indicates that illegal and unsustainable hunting remains a serious concern for the property. The recommendations of the 2007 monitoring mission to assess zoning and concession procedures, to conduct baseline research on Kamchatka bear populations, and to introduce a generalized access policy to the property including the Nature Parks, which would contribute to reducing the poaching pressure on salmon, remain valid.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall the 2007 monitoring mission findings that some of the species that contribute to the OUV of the property appear to have declined significantly in the recent past. Reports received by IUCN in 2010 further indicated a marked decline in the wild reindeer population in 2009.

d) Other conservation issues – mining and hydro-electric dams

Although the State Party does not report on mining and geological prospecting, the development or upgrading of roads and gas pipelines including necessary mitigation measures, and major infrastructure development projects (including power stations) within or adjacent to the property, these activities remain a serious potential threat to the property. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN have received reports about plans to construct two hydropower stations on the Kronotskiy River, within Kronotskiy Strict Nature Reserve, currently the component Protected Area of the property with the highest protection status. These plans were discussed on the website of the Kamchatka Government in November 2011 (http://kamkrai.com/gov/1422-vladimir-ilyuhin-energetika-hrebet-ekonomiki-kamchatskogo-kraya .html; and http://www.kamchatka.gov.ru/ ?cont=info&menu=1&menu2=0&news_id=19912). In April 2012, reports about negotiations with investors from a South Korean company about financing for this project were published on the same website. If these projects are approved, they are likely to have a serious direct impact on the OUV of the property, particularly in relation to criteria (vii), (ix) and (x). The potential impacts of these projects should be assessed through a comprehensive environmental impact assessment (EIA), which explicitly includes effects on the Outstanding Universal Value and related conditions of integrity of the property. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that the approval of hydro-electric projects within the property would represent a clear potential danger to its OUV in line with paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recommend that the World Heritage Committee express regrets that the State Part report only provides information on the 4 components of the property managed by the regional authorities and not on the two federally administered components and does not include a substantial part of the information requested in previous decisions, such as detailed information on trends in wildlife populations within the property (including salmon), an updated map of the property, and the management framework and legal basis for the Kamchatka Nature Park. They note with concern the information provided in the State Party report on the 2010 boundary revision, which seems to indicate that approximately 13000 ha were taken out of the nature parks.   

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN wish to draw the Committee’s attention on the fact that there continues to be an urgent need for an effective management structure and overall management plan for all six protected areas that make up the property, for the revision of their individual management plans, and for adequate legal protection of the areas that now form the Kamchatka Nature Park. In order to safeguard the Outstanding Universal Value and the integrity of the property, the staffing, financial resourcing and overall institutional capacity of the administration(s) of the property need to be further improved. They reiterate that a national law on the management of all natural World Heritage properties of the Russian Federation would contribute to improving management of the property.   

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN further recommend that the World Heritage Committee request the State Party to provide additional information about plans to construct two hydropower stations inside Kronotskiy Strict Nature Reserve and on the tourism development project on Avachinsky Volcano, including copies of the corresponding environmental impact assessments.      

Finally, following reports of the decline in the wild reindeer populations, and in the absence of concrete evidence that the populations are recovering, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that their current status remains cause for serious concern. They emphasize that the urgent need for detailed trend data and comprehensive monitoring of key species including salmon, Kamchatka bear, wild reindeer and snow sheep remains a prerequisite for management planning of the property. 

Decision Adopted: 36 COM 7B.21

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B.Add,

2.  Recalling Decision 34 COM 7B.23 adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),

3.  Regrets that the State Party report provides information only on the 4 components of the property managed by the regional authorities but not on the two federally administered components and does not provide detailed information on trends in wildlife populations in the property, including salmon, the integrated management framework, the draft Regulation of the “Kamchatka Nature Park, and an update on the implementation of the recommendations of the 2007 reactive monitoring mission, and considers that, in the absence of this information, the current state of conservation of the property cannot be adequately assessed;

4.  Notes with concern the reports about plans to construct two hydropower stations inside the property and to develop four ski resorts in its vicinity, and requests the State Party to provide detailed information about these plans, including copies of the Environmental Impact Assessments for the hydropower and other projects that may have a potential impact on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value, before taking any irreversible decisions;

5.  Also notes that the State Party report refers to a 2010 boundary revision, which seems to indicate that a certain area was taken out of the nature parks, and urges the State Party to provide detailed information about this boundary revision, including a detailed map showing the boundaries of all components of the property;

6.  Reiterates its request to the State Party to fully implement the recommendations of the 2007 reactive monitoring mission, particularly regarding the strengthening of the conservation capacity, integrated management plan and coordination structure, and a comprehensive tourism management plan;

7.  Expresses its utmost concern about Federal Law No. 365-FZ dated 30 November 2011, which significantly weakens the protection status of Strict Nature Reserves and therefore could affect the Outstanding Universal Value of World Heritage properties in the Russian Federation and reiterates its request to the State Party to take appropriate legal measures to maintain a high level protection of the World Heritage properties on its territory, in accordance with Paragraph 15(f) of the Operational Guidelines;

8.  Recommends that all legal issues concerning natural properties in the Russian Federation, which are composed of federal and regional protected areas, be addressed through a comprehensive national legal framework  for the protection and management of natural World Heritage properties in order to ensure the fulfilment of the State Party's obligations under the Convention and also requests the State Party to convene a high-level workshop to assist in developing such a framework, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN;

9.  Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2013, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property, including detailed information on trends in wildlife populations inside the property, a map showing the current boundaries of the property, and a detailed progress report on the implementation of the recommendations of the 2007 reactive monitoring mission, as well as the other documents requested above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session in 2013.