UNESCO experts to examine Baikal's ecological condition
Monday, August 27, 2001
A representative delegation arrived today to the Baikal. In the trip, organized by the Russian department of Greenpeace, representatives of the International union for nature protection, Greenpeace, the Russian Natural Resources, fund "Protection of natural heritage" and director of the Moscow bureau of UNESCO took part.
According to the Russian department of Greenpeace, five years passed since the moment, when the unique lake was included into UNESCO's world heritage List. But, Russian authorities have done almost nothing to preserve the Baikal, in the ecologists' opinion.
The Russian Natural Resources Ministry stated the ecological situation on the Baikal was satisfactory. Greenpeace's activists in their turn think the officials try to mislead the community. Thus UNESCO experts decided to build their own opinion of the situation.
Meanwhile ecologists are worried by the lake's condition. According to their information, the Baikal pulp and paper industrial complex goes on polluting the Baikal. Almost nothing is done for prevention of the pollution of the Selenga river, flowing into Lake Baikal. Non-official tourism is developing on the Baikal, that causes damage to the lake's ecosystems. Barbarian disafforestation and illegal construction are going on in the Baikal's coastal zone. There is danger of realization of gas extraction project in Selenga's delta.
UNESCO Commission plans to visit the Baikal pulp and paper industrial complex and Selenga cellulose and cardboard industrial complex, inspect the place of drilling activity in Selenga's delta, meet representatives of the Irkutsk region's and Buryatia republic's administrations. If the commission's conclusions confirm the position of Greenpeace's experts, Baikal will be excluded from UNESCO's world heritage List and moved to the world heritage In Danger List.