MOSCOW, September 13. /TASS/. UNESCO insists on establishment by Russia of an ecological monitoring system for Lake Baikal and demands information regarding the future use of the industrial area of the former Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill. The document was published on the UNESCO web site.
"[The UNESCO World Heritage Committee] also notes with significant concern the reported changes in the property’s [Lake Baikal - TASS] ecosystem, including algal blooms and decreases in fish stocks, and reiterates its request to the State Party to develop a property-wide ecological monitoring system in order to identify the scale and causes of such changes and the responses required to preserve the ecological integrity of the property."
UNESCO is also concerned about the industrial area of the closed Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill that has been polluting the lake for decades. According to earlier reports, the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology also considers several options in using the former plant’s building, including establishment of an ecology educational center there.
UNESCO requests Russia to submit an updated report on the state of conservation of Lake Baikal to the World Heritage Center by February 1, 2018.
The document also touched upon the problem of construction of a hydroelectric power station on the Selenga River, the main artery feeding Lake Baikal, by Mongolia. According to Russian scientists, the projects may negatively affect the lake’s ecosystem and the Selenga River itself, especially in the low-flow period currently observed in the Baikal basin. The scientists also highlighted the seismic hazard of the possible construction site. UNESCO noted that it welcomes Mongolia’s intention to undertake additional studies before the hydroelectric power plant’s construction.