THE UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE COMMITTEE HAS PARTIALLY ACKNOWLEDGED PROBLEMS OF THE
The decision was made without discussion. Recall that at the previous session in Bahrain, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee expressed concern about plans for development of recreational infrastructure both in the "Western Caucasus" territory and in close proximity to its boundaries. In particular, the Committee warned that construction of large-scale ski resorts infrastructure could entail inscription the Site into the List of World Heritage in danger.
The decision taken at the 43rd Session can generally be described as "soft". The UNESCO World Heritage Committee welcomes the official report of the Russian Federation about no plans exist for construction of large-scale infrastructure, nor for development of the property for recreational, tourism or sport purposes in the "Western Caucasus".
At the same time, the World Heritage Committee expressed deep concern that as a result of the invasion of box tree moth in the Caucasus the entire Colchic boxwood forest in the Property was destroyed by the invasive. Measures on Colchic boxwood restoration are noted and the State Party expresses its readiness to work with IUCN on its restoration.
Despite this, Russian environmental organizations believe that the issued decision of the World Heritage Committee does not listed all the current threats. Valery Shmunk, Director of the «Russian Caucasus» office WWF-Russia, gave a speech on behalf of Russian NGOs. Russian environmentalists have been expressing concerns about future of the World Heritage Site "Western Caucasus" in the coming years. Especially serious are threats to its territory in Lunnaya Polyana and Krasnaya Polyana areas.
«Last autumn, the construction and expansion of the road in the area of Lunnaya Polyana resumed. This area is within the boundaries of the World Heritage Site, namely on the territory of the natural monument "Upper River Pshekha and Pshekhashkha". We consider the road near Krasnaya Polyana, which has already been almost built to the boundary of the Caucasian Reserve, the main component of the Heritage, to be even more dangerous for the ecological integrity of the Property. The construction of paved roads and further expansion into these areas will destroy the wildlife corridors, and the consequences for the biodiversity of the "Western Caucasus" will be the most harmful», - explained Valery Shmunk.
In case of further expansion of large-scale infrastructure to the Site the largest mountain forests ecosystem in Europe could be demolished and implementation of Program of Persian Leopard Reintroduction will be hampered.
WWF-Russia hopes that at the next 44th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, current threats will be reflected in the decision.
The «Western Caucasus» site has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999. The major part of the territory of the site is occupied by the Caucasus Nature State Reserve, the «Bolshoi Thatch» Natural Park, nature monuments «Mountain Ridge Buynyi», «Upper River Tsitsa» and «Upper River Pshekha and Pshekhashkha».
Headline photo: (с) Sergei Trepet