Lake Baikal

 Russian Federation
Irkutsk and Chita regions, Republic of Buryatia
N53 10 25 E107 39 45
Date of Inscription: 1996
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(ix)(x)
Property : 8,800,000 ha
Ref: 754
News Link/Travelogue:

Situated in south-east Siberia, the 3.15-million-ha Lake Baikal is the oldest (25 million years) and deepest (1,700 m) lake in the world. It contains 20% of the world’s total unfrozen freshwater reserve. Known as the ‘Galapagos of Russia’, its age and isolation have produced one of the world’s richest and most unusual freshwater faunas, which is of exceptional value to evolutionary science.

Justification for Inscription

The Committee inscribed Lake Baikal as the most outstanding example of a freshwater ecosystem on the basis of natrual criteria (vii), (viii), (ix) and (x). It is the oldest and deepest of the world´s lakes containing nearly 20% of the world´s unfrozen freshwater reserve. The lake contains an outstanding variety of endemic flora and fauna, which is of exceptional value to evolutionary science. It is also surrounded by a system of protected areas that have high scenic and other natural values. The Committee took note of the confirmation of the revised boundaries of the site, which correspond to the core areas defined in the Baikal Law (excluding the five urban developed areas). It also noted that the special Lake Baikal Law is now in its second reading in the Duma. Finally, it noted concern over a number of integrity issues including pollution, which should be brought to the attention of the Russian authorities.

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