Conservation of Lake Baikal in News

On 1 August 2018, the World Heritage Centre received a petition signed by more than 2,400 citizens who expressed their concerns about deforestation at Lake Baikal World Heritage site (Russia).

The competent authorities of the State Party as well as the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Body IUCN are informed of the concerns raised by the campaign. The state of conservation of the World Heritage site is being monitored according to the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention.

The World Heritage Committee, at its 42nd session in Manama, Bahrain (24 June to 4 July 2018), requested the State Party to provide an update on several points, including on planned forest management.

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. Known as the ‘Galapagos of Russia’, 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.

The Committee inscribed Lake Baikal as the most outstanding example of a freshwater ecosystem on the basis of natrual criteria (vii), (viii), (ix) and (x). It is the oldest and deepest of the world´s lakes containing nearly 20% of the world´s unfrozen freshwater reserve.

The lake contains an outstanding variety of endemic flora and fauna, which is of exceptional value to evolutionary science. It is also surrounded by a system of protected areas that have high scenic and other natural values. The Committee took note of the confirmation of the revised boundaries of the site, which correspond to the core areas defined in the Baikal Law (excluding the five urban developed areas).

It also noted that the special Lake Baikal Law is now in its second reading in the Duma. Finally, it noted concern over a number of integrity issues including pollution, which should be brought to the attention of the Russian authorities.