First UNESCO / IUCN reactive monitoring mission of experts visited the World Heritage property: “Natural System of Wrangel Island Reserve”

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Joint World Heritage Center/the International Union for Conservation of Nature reactive monitoring mission to the World Heritage property “Natural System of Wrangel Island Reserve” was carried out from 11 to 15 August 2017.

The mission included IUCN experts from Canada and Germany under the guidance of UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture Francesco Bandarin. The Russian participants included Irina Fominykh, Deputy director of the International Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia, and Amirkhan Amirkhanov, Deputy head of Rosprirodnadzor.

The mission was initiated by appeals of some public organizations, which, in particular, expressed concerns about potential oil exploration and production activities in the vicinity of a specially protected natural area (SPNA), as well as potential negative impact which the military base located on the island might have on the property.

As Mr Amirkhanov explained, Russia implements a program to clean up the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation, including the islands, from accumulated waste, in which the military takes an active part. The activity of the garrison of the military base does not have a negative impact on the property.

A set of measures to equip the necessary facilities and clean up the territory from the accumulated waste were undertaken in 2017 on the territory of Wrangel island. The area affected by these works is less than 0.001% of the World Heritage Site total area. Work to eliminate previously accumulated environmental damage will continue.

To date, two compacting plants were constructed in the reserve, in the near future the reserve is to receive 3 more plants.The cleaning of the island from industrial waste will be completed in the next 5 years, as transportation of equipment to the island is complicated by its remoteness from the mainland. The mission also found that there are no subsoil plots for exploration and production of oil within the boundaries of the World Heritage site.

For the territory of the World Heritage site, the administration of the reserve in cooperation with the specialists of the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia developed and implemented a management plan for 2013-2017, as well as a program for the development of ecological tourism.

In the current year, a new management plan for the property is under way. In the opinion of experts, there is a need to strengthen administrative work of all structures concerened on federal, regional, local level, and its co-operation with the management of the reserve.

Source: Press Service of the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia