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Lake Baikal

Situated in south-east Siberia, the 3.15-million-ha Lake Baikal is the oldest (25 million years) and deepest (1,700 m) lake in the world. It contains 20% of the world's total unfrozen freshwater reserve. Its age and isolation have produced one of the world's richest and most unusual freshwater faunas, which is of exceptional value to evolutionary science.
Source : Unesco

Lake Baikal - A Touchstone for Global Change and Rift Studies

"The Lake Baikal rift system is a modern analogue for formation of ancient Atlantic-type continental margins. It tells us the first chapter in the story of how continents separate and ultimately develop into ocean basins like the Atlantic Ocean."- "Lake Baikal is a unique, nearly pristine environment for the study of global change. Nowhere else in the world can we go to study so long a record of such an important, but little known, part of the global climate system."
Source : USGS Fact Sheet , more

Wildlife of Lake Baikal

On the boundary of the two elements - land and water, on the narrow Baikal shore, fascinating and peculiar life forms are found. The Baikal shore is a unique ecological niche the inhabitants of which are connected with both dryland and water. Some of them live on land but feed in water, others spend the greater part of the time in water but breed and end their lifetime ashore. Due to its unique location, the land animals of the Baikal region contain specimens of the fauna found in Central Asia, Europe - Siberia and East Asia. Furthermore, the taiga near-lake backwoods are inhabited by rare animals which have become extinct in other places.
Source; http://www.bww.irk.ru/baikalfauna/baikalwildlife.html

Lac Baïkal

Situé au sud-est de la Sibérie, le lac Baïkal, d'une superficie de 3,15 millions d'hectares, est le plus ancien (25 millions d'années) et le plus profond (1 700 m) lac du monde. Il contient 20 % des eaux douces non gelées de la planète. Son ancienneté et son isolement ont produit une des faunes d'eau douce les plus riches et originales de la planète, qui présente une valeur exceptionnelle pour la science de l'évolution, ce qui lui vaut le surnom
Source ; Unesco

Lago Baikal

Situado al sudeste de Siberia, este lago tiene una superficie de 3.150.000 hectáreas y es el más antiguo (25 millones de años) y profundo del mundo (1.700 metros). Contiene el 20% del agua dulce no helada de la Tierra. Debido a su antigüedad y aislamiento posee una de las faunas de agua dulce más ricas y singulares del planeta. El excepcional interés que ésta ofrece para el estudio de la evolución de las especies le ha valido al lago Baikal el sobrenombre de “las Galápagos de Rusia”.
source: UNESCO/ERI

Mit 3,15 Millionen Hektar ist der Baikalsee das älteste (25 Mio. Jahre) und tiefste ( 1.700 m) See der Welt . Mit Lage in Süd-Ost- Sibirien enthält der Baikalsee 20% der nicht gefrorenen Süßwasserreservender der gesamten Welt. Bedingt durch das enorme Alter und die Isolierung des Baikalsees hat sich eines der wertvollsten, reichsten und ungewöhnlichsten Süßwasserfauna entwickeltm welches zudem wichtig ist für die Evolutionswissenschaft -
Source Unesco :

Озеро Байкал

Расположенный на юго-востоке Сибири и занимающий площадь 3,15 млн. га, Байкал признан самым древним (25 млн. лет) и самым глубоким (около 1700 м) озером планеты. Водоем хранит примерно 20% всех мировых запасов пресной воды. В озере, которое известно как «Галапагосы России», благодаря древнему возрасту и изоляции сформировалась уникальная даже по мировым меркам пресноводная экосистема, изучение которой имеет непреходящее значение для понимания эволюции жизни на Земле.
source: UNESCO/ERI

بحيرة بايكل

تقع بحيرة بايكل جنوب شرق سيبيريا وتمتد على مساحة3.15 مليون هكتار وهي أقدم بحيرات العالم (25 مليون سنة) وأعمقها (1700 متر). وهي تضمّ 20% من مياه الأرض العذبة غير المثلجة. وفي قدمها وعزلتها ما أفضى إلى تكوّن مجموعات حيوانيّة هي الأغنى والأكثر ابتكاراً على وجه الأرض وهي تتمتع بقيمة استثنائيّة لعلم التطوّر فكسبت اسم "غالاباغوس روسيا".
source: UNESCO/ERI

贝加尔湖

坐落在俄罗斯联邦境内西伯利亚东南部的贝加尔湖,占地315万公顷,是世界历史最悠久(2500万年)且最深的(1700 米)湖泊。它拥有地表不冻淡水资源的20%。以“俄国的加拉帕戈斯”而闻名于世的贝加尔湖,因其悠久的年代和人迹罕见,使它成为拥有世界上种类最多和最稀 有的淡水动物群的地区之一,而这一动物群对于进化科学具有不可估量的价值。
source: UNESCO/ERI

Background

Lake Baikal

UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds
International Assistance granted to the property

Requests Approved: 0 (from1990-2000)
Total Amount Ap proved: 33,200USD
2000    International Bakail seminar on law projects dealing with the ...               18,200 USD
1990    Technical experts meeting for discussing conservation management ...     15,000 USD

Missions**

1998: World Heritage Centre monitoring mission; 2001: UNESCO/IUCN reactive monitoring mission; 2005: World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission; 2011: UNESCO/IUCN Mission.
2011 Mission Report, High‐level mission, Lake Baikal (Russian Federation), 10‐15 July 2011

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Lack of adequate management system;
  • Uncertain legal protection;
  • Pollution;
  • Illegal timber harvesting;
  • Gas and oil pipeline project across the World Heritage property (issue resolved);
  • Illegal construction on the Lake shore;
  • Illegal sale of land;
  • Tourism development
  • Lack of mechanism to control waste water discharge.

Corrective Measures Current conservation issues

On 30 January 2014, a report on the state of conservation of the property was submitted by the State Party, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/754/documents/. The State Party of the Russian Federation reports the following:

  • The Baikalsk Paper and Pulp Mill (BPPM) was closed as of December 2013 and plant facilities shut down. The last activities in relation to pulp production took place in September 2013, although the heat power plant remains in operation. No information about the measures to mitigate the industrial legacy of the plant, including an outline of a closure plan and timeframe, or an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in relation to the future plans with the BPPM, is provided;
  • The Special Economic Zones “Baikal Harbor” is a project of federal importance. The State Party reports on amendments to Federal Law № 174-FЗ “On environmental expert examination” with regard to the expansion of the list of objects of the state environmental expert examination at the federal level, and informs that objects scheduled to be constructed in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) “Baikal Harbor” are excluded from such an assessment at the regional level;
  • Ore mining at Kholodninskoye deposit remains suspended until 31 December 2014 and no exploration of mineral resources on the territory of the Central Environmental Zone of Baikal, except for extraction of underground waters and dredging operations, is permitted. A noteable budgetary allocation has been made in order to propose actions to prevent negative environmental effects of the Kholodninskoye deposit on the property’s values;
  • Mid-term management plans have been elaborated for Barguzinsky Reserve, Zabaikalsky National Park and Federal Reserve Frolikhinsky, as well as a visitor plan for Baikal National Park. The State Party also reports on a number of research projects in relation to the state of biodiversity of the property.

The State Party notes concerns about plans of the State Party of Mongolia to build a hydroelectric power plant on the Selenga and Orkhon Rivers and the lack of research and assessment on the environmental and social impact of the project on the World Heritage property, including threats to biodiversity, changes in water discharge and drifts, and river morphology.
The World Heritage Centre requested the State Party of Mongolia to provide information regarding such a development. On 7 April 2014, the State Party of the Russian Federation sent a letter to the World Heritage Centre, raising again concern about a potential threat to the property from hydropower plant constructions in Mongolia. On 8 April 2014 the World Heritage Centre reminded its request to the State Party of Mongolia to provide further information in that regard. A reply from the State Party of Mongolia was received on 14 April 2014.
Given the early stage of both projects, the State Party of Mongolia considers it is premature to draw conclusions on their potential impacts on the property. The State Party of Mongolia notes that it regularly provides information about these projects to the State Party of the Russian Federation in the framework of the Agreement on Protection and Utilization of Border Water. The State Party of Mongolia confirms that technical and economic feasibility studies are ongoing for the Shuren Hydropower Plant on a tributary of the Selenga River, which would have a capacity of 300 megawatts. These studies are expected to be completed in 2015. If their conclusions are positive, environmental assessments will be carried out in conformity with current legislation.
Terms of Reference are currently being developed for technical and economic feasibility studies for a multipurpose water complex on the Orkhon River, which would have the aim to enhance water supply to towns and settlements in the region.

Analysis and Conclusion

The information provided by the State Party that the facilities for pulp production in the BPPM ceased to operate and that parts of the BPPM for heat production remain in operation is well noted. The Committee’s decision should be recalled, that any future use of the BPPM site should be subject to EIA, with particular emphasis on the impact of the BPPM on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property.
There is some concern that the State Party of Mongolia continues considering plans for dam constructions on the Selenga and Orkhon rivers, which constitute the main source of water inflow to Lake Baikal. Dam construction on either of these rivers may have significant adverse impacts on the OUV of the property and it is recommended that the Committee therefore request the State Party of Mongolia to ensure that no dam construction on either river proceeds before these potential impacts, including cumulative impacts, on OUV have been duly assessed, and to provide a copy of the environmental impact assessments of these projects to the World Heritage Centre. The concern expressed by the State Party of the Russian Federation about these projects and their potential impacts on the property should also be noted.
Considering the concerns mentioned above, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party of Mongolia to invite an IUCN reactive monitoring mission, with an invitation also extended to the authorities of the Russian Federation, in order to review the scope, scale and status of the dam projects in Mongolia and to have a discussion early in the planning process about the potential impacts of these projects on the property. The mission should make recommendations to both States Parties and the World Heritage Committee to avoid any negative impacts from these projects on the OUV of the property.
The confirmation that ore mining at the Kholodninskoye deposit remains suspended until end of 2014 is welcomed, and it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to confirm that no license for mining activities will be granted after this date in conformity with the Committee’s established position on the incompatibility of mining activities and World Heritage status.
The information that the SEZ “Baikal Harbor” remains a priority development project is noted. There is concern over its impact on the property’s values. No further development within the SEZ should be allowed prior to the completion of a comprehensive Strategic Environmental Assessment of tourism development options within the property and in its vicinity, in order to identify alternatives that do not negatively impact on its OUV.
There has been some progress made with the development of management plans for Barguzinsky Reserve, Zabaikalsky National Park and Federal Reserve Frolikhinsky and it has become a necessity to develop an integrated management plan for the property as a whole, in order for the requirements for management of the World Heritage property to be met, in line with Paragraph 112 of the Operational Guidelines.
There have also been reports of proposals being made to introduce changes to Federal Law “On Baikal Lake Protection” N 94-FZ, which appear to weaken the protection of the property. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to provide detailed information on these proposed changes and their potential impact on the conservation and management of the property.

Decision

  • Adopted
  • Draft Decision

38COM7B.76

Link to the decision

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 37 COM 7B.22, adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
  3. Welcomes the information provided by the State Party that the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill (BPPM) has been shut down, although it continues to produce heat, and requests the State Party to develop a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the future use of the BPPM site and its impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  4. Notes with concern that the State Party of Mongolia continues to consider the development of dams on the Selenga and Orkhon rivers, and also requests the State Party of Mongolia to ensure that no dam development on either river proceeds before the potential impacts, including cumulative impacts, of these projects on OUV have been duly assessed, in conformity with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and to provide a copy of the environmental impact assessments of these projects to the World Heritage Centre in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines ;
  5. Further requests the State Party of Mongolia to invite an IUCN reactive monitoring mission, with an invitation also extended to the authorities of the Russian Federation, in order to review the scope, scale and status of the dam projects in Mongolia and to have a discussion early in the planning process about the potential impacts of these projects on the property;
  6. Reiterates its position that mining is incompatible with World Heritage status, and requests furthermore the State Party of the Russian Federation to ensure that mining at the Kholodninskoye deposit remains prohibited beyond 31 December 2014;
  7. Expresses its concern over the continued development of the “Baikal Harbour” and “Gate of Baikal” Special Economic Zones and the lack of assessment of the impacts of these developments on the OUV of the property, and requests moreover the State Party to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the Special Economic Zones (SEZs), in particular concerning tourism development within the property and its vicinity, in order to identify alternatives that will not have a negative impact on the OUV of the property;
  8. Also expresses its concern over reported proposals to introduce changes to Federal Law N 94-FZ which would weaken the protection of the property, and requests in addition the State Party to provide further information on these proposed changes;
  9. Urges the State Party to expedite the development of management plans for the protected areas which constitute the property as well as an integrated management plan for the property as a whole, in line with Paragraph 112 of the Operational Guidelines;
  10. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property, including on the implementation of the actions noted above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015.
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