Story | 06 Sep, 2023

IUCN advises inscription of seven World Heritage sites and 'in danger' status for Volcanoes of Kamchatka

Gland, Switzerland 6 September 2023 (IUCN) – The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as the official advisor on nature to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, recommends inscription of seven sites on the World Heritage List. The Volcanoes of Kamchatka, in eastern Russia, are recommended for placing on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

IUCN’s advice is addressed to the World Heritage Committee, the governing body on World Heritage made up of 21 governments. The Committee will consider the advice and take decisions on more than 250 existing sites recognised on the World Heritage List for their Outstanding Universal Value to humankind, as well as the potential inscription of new sites, at its annual meeting taking place 10-25 September 2023 in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

IUCN evaluated 20 new nominations for this year’s World Heritage Committee meeting. Of these, IUCN recommends seven sites be inscribed on the list due to their exceptional natural values. These are: the Andrefana Dry Forests (Madagascar), the Bale Mountains National Park (Ethiopia), ‘Uruq Bani Ma’arid (Saudi Arabia), the Tugay Forests of the Tigrovaya Balka Nature Reserve (Tajikistan), Anticosti (Canada), and the Cold Winter Deserts of Turan (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan). IUCN recommends a transboundary extension of the existing Hyrcanian Forests World Heritage site in Iran into Azerbaijan.

A number of other nominations have received IUCN recommendations to tackle remaining threats, or to improve the effectiveness of conservation, prior to being considered for inscription on the List. IUCN provided technical recommendations on the state of conservation of nearly 100 natural World Heritage sites that will be considered by the World Heritage Committee.

IUCN recommends the inscription of the Volcanoes of Kamchatka on the in-danger list due to the removal of legal protection of part of the site, thereby fulfilling the in-danger criteria. Following a joint UNESCO-IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission in 2019, IUCN expressed concerns over proposals for a tourism development project within the World Heritage site which would threaten its Outstanding Universal Value.

The Volcanoes of Kamchatka has rich geological and biodiverse value and is home to the world's largest known variety of salmonid fish and exceptional concentrations of sea otter, brown bear and Stellar's sea eagle. The List of World Heritage in Danger is a mechanism designed to mobilise urgent action to secure the conservation of sites facing severe threats.

There are currently 16 natural World Heritage sites on the in-danger list. IUCN also raises concerns about various sites on the in-danger list, and those facing threats that may warrant their future inclusion, where ongoing pressures and threats range from insecurity, climate change, pollution, impacts on ecological connectivity, to infrastructure development such as dams, mining and tourism. The full documentation on these sites is available here.