The 31st Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee
At the 31st Session of the World Heritage Committee which took place on 23.06-02.07 in Christchirch, New Zealand, 22 new sites (5 natural, 16 cultural and 1 mixed sites) from 22 countries have entered the World Heritage List. Now the List counts 166 natural, 660 cultural and 25 mixed sites.
For the first time in the history of Convention the World Heritage site, namely the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary, Oman, has been excluded from the List. The reasons for exclusion was 90% reduction of the site's area upon the decision of the Oman Government, and also almost tenfold decease of the Arabian Oryx population size due to poaching and degradation of its habitats.
Natural sites Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) and Niokolo-Koba National Park (Senegal) have entered the World Heritage List in Danger. At the same time, Everglades National Park (USA) and Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras) sites have been returned to the World Heritage List, as their state does not cause anxiety any more.
The state of conservation of the four Russian natural sites has been examined at the Session: "Lake Baikal", "Volcanoes of Kamchatka", "Golden Mountains of Altai" and "Western Caucasus". Before February, 1, 2008, Russian Federation is to present reports of current changes in the state of conservation of the sites. For examination of the situation in 2007 and 2008 UNESCO/IUCN expert missions are assigned to "Volcanoes of Kamchatka", "Golden Mountains of Altai" and "Western Caucasus". Experts will present their recommendations at the 32nd Session of the World Heritage Committee (June 2008).