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Western Caucasus (Russian Federation)

OurWorldHeritage VOICES
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Hello everyone,

Western Caucasus (Russian Federation) will be discussed during the UNESCO World Heritage Committee Meeting this year. This site was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1999.

For relevant documents please find item 110: (EN) or (FR).

We welcome you to take part with your comments and information on the conservation of this site. OurWorldHeritage will moderate the forum according to the rules described here. You can write in your own language, but we encourage you to use English to facilitate the dissemination of your ideas.


Mikhail Kreyndlin
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Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 1

It clearly follows from the IUCN and World Heritage Center report that the Outstanding Universal Value of the property is under serious threat.

A large-scale commercial tourist infrastructure is planned to be built on the Lagonaki Plateau, inside the property. In addition, in 2020, the Russian Government adopted a decision according to which it is allowed to build tourist and sports infrastructure on other parts of the property, including those of the greatest value (for example, the Fisht-Oshten Mountain Range).

In our opinion, this would lead to serious consequences for those natural objects that served as the basis for the inscription of the property on the World Heritage List. The Lagonaki Plateau,  and the Fisht-Oshten Mountain Range, is a unique natural complex, with an extremely rich landscape and biological diversity and has no analogues in Russia.

It is also a home of many animals: Caucasian chamois, West Caucasian tur, red deer, brown bear etc. The Lagonaki Plateau, as part of the Caucasian State Biosphere Reserve, is the most important ornithological territory of international importance. The territory of the Lagonaki Plateau is extremely important for the preservation of rare and endangered species.

The significance of the entire territory of the “Western Caucasus” property for the preservation of unique landscapes, species diversity of plants and animals on a national and global scale is indisputable.

Furthermore, large-scale ski resorts and highways are planned to be built on the territories adjacent to the property, but ecologically inextricably linked with it. According to the IUCN and World Heritage Center, this may threaten the Outstanding Universal Value of the property.

The World Heritage Committee has repeatedly stated its position that the construction of large-scale infrastructure on the property, including on the Lagonaki Plateau, is the basis for inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The World Heritage Committee repeatedly requests that no infrastructure be planned within the boundaries of the property and on the territory directly adjacent to it, and that an EIA be carried out before any investment project is considered.

The Draft Decision requests to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to evaluate whether the property meets the conditions for inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

As it became known from the Draft Decision, the State Party of the Russian Federation informed the World Heritage Center of its desire to clarify the boundaries of the property. It proposes the exclusion of enclaves in the Lagonaki Plateau area. The draft decision rightly notes that such a reduction of the property’s boundaries would have to be considered through a significant modification of the boundaries, and that the proposed boundaries would create fragmentation of the property, and would be likely to have a direct negative impact on the property’s OUV.

The Draft Decision prepared by the WHC and IUCN fully complies with both regulatory documents and the spirit of the World Heritage Convention, and should be supported by the Committee. Nevertheless, the discussion of the Draft Decision was open. If the Committee agrees to amendments that weaken the Draft Decision, this will create a real threat to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property.

It should be noted, that new threats to the World Heritage World Heritage property “Western Caucasus” are constantly appearing. Already in June 2021, on behalf of the Russian Government, work for planning on the construction of a high-speed highway from Kislovodsk to Sochi, crossing the territory of the property.

In this context, the joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission that will comprehensively evaluate all threats to the property is absolutely necessary and fully complies with the Convention and the Operational Guidelines.

In this regard, it’s very important to be adopted the Draft Decision prepared by the WHC and IUCN on the World Heritage property “Western Caucasus”.