UNESCO natural sites’ managers stated the need to agree on uniform rules for cross-border reserves

High status of the UNESCO sites offers them a number of advantages and concurrently imposes severe restrictions on economic activity, requires state guarantees of safety and integrity. It is even more challenging to set uniform rules there if a UNESCO site is located in the cross-border territory of the two countries. The need to agree on uniform rules for such reserves was stated by the director of the Uvs Nuur Basin Nature Reserve Diinmei Balban-Ool at the World Heritage Site Managers’ Conference in Kazan. 

“We represent two different states, we have different legislations, and because of that, sometimes we face problems with the activities. I propose to develop model general rules of interaction for sites located in cross-border territories," said Diinmei Balban-Ool at the conference. 

He gave an example of the situation when engineering structures on the border of Mongolia and Russia prevent argali from migrating causing the degradation of the Mongun-Taiga grouping of this Red Book species. 

For his part, the director of the Baikal Nature Reserve Vasily Sutula told about a unique project that is implemented only there. Natural fires occuring on the territory of the Baikal Nature Reserve are put out by the federal service "Avialesookhrana”.

"We want this to be the norm for the entire territory of the Russian Federation, so that natural fires in specially protected natural areas are extinguished by the Aerial Forest Protection as a specialised institution. Unfortunately, this is only the case with the Baikal territory," said Irina Makanova, Director of the Department of State Policy and Regulation in the Field of Development of Specially Protected Natural Areas of the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia.

She noted that despite the current geopolitical situation in the world, it is necessary to continue preserving and protecting unique natural sites for the peoples of the world. "I would like us to define the rules, procedures, mechanisms based on the internationally accepted norms in relation to our sites," Makarova stressed out. 

Thus, following the findings of the conferences, the working group drew up a number of proposals to be submitted to UNESCO. These included the following: 

  • To consider tourism at the World Heritage sites as a significant tool for their preservation through the definition of optimal options and loads: the search for the best complementary or compromise solutions in never-ending conflict of interests of conservation and sustainable development
  • To identify the best models of responsible management of the World Natural Heritage sites for the formation of a strategic natural reserve of mankind
  • Look into the possibility of creating specialised structures on climate change, ecomonitoring, etc. as part of international macro-regional and regional organisations (EAEU, SCO, APEC) 
  • Based on intergovernmental commissions to agree on uniform (general) rules for cross-border World Heritage sites 

"We have received a lot of clear and precise proposals, but since they are so detailed it is unfeasible to include all this in the Forum declaration. We have agreed with the Russian Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Natural Resources that all documents with issues and problems specified will be handed over to them for consideration in their work," concluded Aleksey Butorin, a researcher at the Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Sciences, President of the Natural Heritage Protection Fund. 

World Natural Heritage Sites’ Managers Conference was held on 5-8 December in the Korston Hotel, Kazan, as part of the International Forum for the 50th anniversary of the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.