World Heritage

The UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage has been designed to protect among others the natural objects with the "significant importance". Greenpeace Russia reveals, works out the grounds and participates in protection of such unique natural complexes.

About UNESCO World Heritage

World Heritage Project

World Natural Heritage Properties in Russia

About UNESCO World Heritage

The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage was adopted at the 17th session of the General Conference of UNESCO on November 16, 1972, and it came into force on December 17, 1975. Its main goal is to involve the world community in conservation of unique cultural and natural properties. In 1975, the Convention was ratified by 21 countries. Over the next 40 years, it was signed by another 170 countries, and at the middle of 2014 the number of States Parties reached 191. This Convention has the more signatories than any other UNESCO convention. In 1976, to ensure effective implementation of the Convention, the World Heritage Committee and the World Heritage Foundation were formed.

Two years later, the first cultural and natural properties were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The first natural territories to receive status of World Heritage properties were the Galapagos Islands (USA), Yellowstone National Park (USA), Nahanni National Park (Canada), and Simien National Park (Ethiopia). Over the years, the List has grown to encompass a wide variety of regions and properties: by the middle of 2014, it included 197 natural, 779 cultural and 31 mixed natural and cultural properties in 161 countries of the world. Most cultural properties in the List are in Italy, Spain, Germany and France (more than 30 properties in each). The United States and Australia have the greatest number of World Heritage natural properties (more than 10 properties each). The Convention also protects such world-renowned natural sites as the Great Barrier Reef, the Hawaiian Islands, the Grand Canyon, Mount Kilimanjaro and Lake Baikal.

Undoubtedly, it is a big honor for a territory to be on a list of the world's most valuable natural sites. It is also a big responsibility. A territory, once nominated, can be inscribed in the World Heritage List only after thorough evaluation to determine that it meets at least one of four criteria developed by experts from the World Heritage Committee. These criteria are:

  • Contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.

  • Be outstanding examples representing major stages of the earth's history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features.

  • Be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals.

  • Contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including habitats containing threatened species of universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.

Protection, management, authenticity and integrity of the property are also the important factors that are taken into account during its evaluation before the inscription into the List. World Natural Heritage status provides additional guarantees of conservation and integrity of the unique ecosystems: gives higher status to the territory, promotes popularity of the properties and development of alternative types of nature management; ensures priority funding for the properties.

World Heritage Project

In 1994 Greenpeace Russia initiated the project "World Heritage" in order to identify and protect outstanding natural systems presently threatened by significant modification due to human impact. Acquisition of the highest protection status by the territories in order to ensure additional guaranties for their preservation is the main objective of this work carried out by Greenpeace.

The first attempts to include protected areas in Russia in the UNESCO List occurred in the early 1990s. In 1994, during the seminar "Current Issues Facing the Creation of a System of World and Russian Natural Heritage Properties", a list was made of possible territories for inscription. Also in 1994, experts from Greenpeace Russia prepared documents for inclusion of the Virgin Komi Forests territory in the World Heritage List. In December 1995, that territory became the first in Russia to achieve the status of a World Natural Heritage property.

Over the next several years, other Russian territories were added to the List: Lake Baikal (1996), Volcanoes of Kamchatka (1996), Golden Mountains of Altai (1998), Western Caucasus (1999). In late 2000, Curonian Spit became the first Russian-Lithuanian International World Heritage property to qualify as a "cultural landscape". Later, the UNESCO List was extended to include Central Sikhote-Alin (2001), Uvs Nuur Basin (2003, in cooperation with Mongolia), Natural System of Wrangel Island Reserve (2004), Putorana Plateau (2010) and Lena Pillars Nature Park (2012).

Nominations for consideration by the World Heritage Committee must be inscribed first on the National Tentative List. At present Russia's list includes such natural complexes as Commander Islands, Magadan Nature Reserve, Daurian Steppes, "Lena Pillars" Nature Park, Krasnoyarsk Stolby, Great Vasyugan Mire, Ilmensky Mountains, Bashkirian Urals. The Upper and Middle Valley of Bikin River in the Central Sikhote-Alin as well as adjoining to Golden Mountains of Altai territories in China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan are to be nominated. Negotiations with Finland and Norway for joint nomination of the Green Belt of Fennoscandia are in process.

Russia is undoubtedly rich in unique intact natural territories. There are more than 20 areas in our country that could be nominated for inscription in the World Heritage List. Among them are Kuril Islands, Delta of the Lena, Delta of the Volga.

Russian cultural properties currently on the UNESCO World Heritage List are such well-known historical and architectural sites as the Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg, the Kremlin and Red Square, Kizhi Pogost, Solovetsky, Ferapontov and Novodevichy monasteries, Trinity Sergius Lavra, the Church of Ascension in Kolomenskoye, and the Historic Monuments of Novgorod the Great, Vladimir, Suzdal, Yaroslavl, Kazan and Derbent.

World Natural Heritage Properties in Russia