Experts from Russia, Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia, members of the Standing Environmental Committee of the Russian Geographical Society have discussed the possibility of expanding the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Golden Mountains of Altai". The meeting was held at the Headquarters of the Society in Moscow.
"Many thanks to the Russian Geographical Society, - said Head of the UNESCO International department "Environmental Education in Siberia", I.I. Polzunov Altai State Technical University Mikhail Shishin. - We understand the high importance of this place. Such great activists as Nikolai Przewalski, Grigory Grumm-Grzhimaylo, Grigory Potanin explored this region, and we practically continue their work. "
Big Altai – a mountainous region in the territory of Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China. It is famous for its rich cultural and natural heritage. It is believed that the first settlements appeared there almost a million years ago. Scythians, Turks, Uighurs, Yenisei Kyrgyz, Mongols – all these nations made a contribution in the cultural treasury of Altai. The Russian part of the region is called “Golden Mountains of Altai” and in 1998 it was included in the World Heritage List. The total area covers 1,611,457 ha. “Golden Mountains of Altai” includes Altai Nature Reserve, Nature Park “Beluga” , Katun Biosphere Reserve and natural park “Ukok Quiet zone”. Mongolian national park Altai Tavan Bogd, Chinese Kanas and Kazakh Katon-Karagay may be prepared for this nomination.
"We were planning, and the World Heritage Centre supports this project, to apply for extension of the nomination of the World Heritage Site together - says Shishin. - But, unfortunately, the Russian side has not been able to develop its position on this issue. It is not yet clear why some Russian officials do not support the extension. National interests of the other three countries make them act on their own. And now they will prepare and submit applications for nomination separately. The time will show whether these applications will be united. "
Every year each country may nominate in the UNESCO World Heritage List only one object.
Shishin praised the past meeting. According to him experts have learned a lot and were able to discuss the key issues that will help them choose the right strategy.
"We did not know before that a new specially protected natural area had been created in in Mongolia - the sacred mountain of the Tavan Bogd - adds Shishin. - President of Mongolia Elbegdorj Tsakhiagiin consecrated this mountain, which is located on the border with Russia and China. Per se this mountain gained a conservation status. This is a completely new information for us"
The difficult task is ahead - the experts are to agree on environmental legislation of the four countries, said Shishin. And in the coming weeks the resolution of the meeting will be finalized.