Another piece of Russian World Heritage in danger!

Feature story - 10 February, 2009
The World Heritage Center of UNESCO demands a clarification from the Russian ministry of natural recourses regarding a decision to reduce the protected area of the Virgin Komi Forests.

Natural landscapes of Komi Republlic

Officials from the regional administration in charge of forest management have recently launched a new policy for the management of the Virgin Komi Forests. The policy redefines the area of protection in order to permit gold mining in the removed object of protection.

The interference with Russia's oldest object of World Heritage has materialized in a remarkably regular manner so far. Equivalent records of discreditable world heritage management took place 1998, 2001 and 2004 when the national park area decreased in favor of local industrial demands.

At the end of last year the municipality of the local district "Inta" published a decision assuming the removal of 1900 ha land from the national park "Jugyd va". An implementation of this decision will unavoidably cause serious damage to the natural complex. Such an implementation can also only be done in conflict with the World Heritage Convention which was ratified already 1988 by U.S.S.R. UNESCO will now once again have to reassess a Russian World Heritage regarding the necessity to put it on the list of "World Heritage in Danger". Equivalent assessments took place last year concerning the heritages "Lake Baikal" and "Western Caucasus".

Greenpeace Russia requests a correct treatment of the case by the Prosecutor General in accordance with applicable laws as well as an appropriate prosecutorial reaction on the situation.

The Virgin Komi Forests cover 3.28 million ha of tundra and mountain tundra in the Urals, as well as one of the most extensive areas of virgin boreal forest remaining in Europe. This area of conifers, aspens, birches, peat bogs, rivers and natural lakes has been monitored and studied for over 50 years. It provides valuable evidence of the natural processes affecting biodiversity in the taiga.

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