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by Nikolai MAXAKOVSKY, Cand. Sc. (Geography), Senior Scientific Associate of D. Likhachev Russian Scientific Research Institute of Cultural and Natural Heritage (Moscow)
The UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage was adopted in 1972, And in keeping with its provisions, ever since 1978 a prestigious international list has been compiled, with some 25 - 30 items added annually representing objects of exclusive significance. In view of their immense value the goal of the list is to attract special attention to the problem of preservation of unique monuments, their popularization and utilization in the spheres of education and tourism.
The idea of international responsibility for preservation of the most valuable cultural and natural objects of global importance was formed in the 1950s- 1960s in connection with the construction of the Aswan High Dam in Egypt and with the impending threat of the Nile waters flooding the ancient Nubian temples. It was then brought home to the world community that their destruction would cause irretrievable damage not only to Egypt and Sudan but also to all peoples of the globe. At the same time it was only too obvious that the two countries in question cannot afford to save these ancient monuments. So UNESCO applied for assistance to all states of the world, and, as a result, considerable funds were collected that made it possible to save these monuments by moving them to a safer location.
As of January 1, 2006, the List included 812 objects, 628 of them represented by cultural, 160-by natural and 24-by cultural-and-natural monuments. Those objects of interest are located on all continents (except for Antarctica), on the territory of 137 countries, Russia among them.
UNESCO experts have elaborated a system often criteria for the World Heritage status to be well deserved. In order to be put on the List it is necessary for the object to
meet at least one of them (for instance, if it has been recognized as "a masterpiece of man's creative genius" or if it is distinguished by natural picturesqueness).
First, the most famous architectural monuments, old engineering-and-fortification structures, sacred and religious sites, most valuable archeological finds, memorials and memorable places and unique cultural landscapes have been put on the List. They include historical centers of old cities that are quite numerous in Europe (Rome, Florence, Venice, Edinburgh, Lyon, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg, Warsaw, Krakow, Tallin, Riga, Vilnius, Moscow and St. Petersburg). Second, the List includes natural phenomena, such as the world's highest mountain peaks (Mt. Everest in Nepal, Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania), the most spectacular waterfalls (the Angel in Venezuela), the deepest lakes (Lake Baikal in Russia), grandious caves (the Mammoth Cave in the USA), the most active volcanoes (Kilauea in the Hawaii), the most considerable concentrations of coral islands and reefs (the Great Barrier Reef in Australia), and so on.
The third group of the World Heritage includes cultur-al-and-natural objects, the result of joint creative efforts of nature and man, or an unusual combination of their monuments concentrated on a certain limited territory. Take, for instance, the richest collection of ancient rock painting on the Tassilin-Adjer Plateau in Algeria, and the inimitable rock architecture masterpieces of the Meteores monasteries in Greece, and the sacred Mt. Huangshan serving as a paragon of beauty among all China's natural landscapes.
The item put on the World Heritage List often has a complicated structure: it may consist of several cultural monuments or protected natural territories, sometimes located at a certain distance from each other. But even adjacent territories more often than not have a different legal status and/or administrative subordination.
Our country joined the UNESCO Convention in 1988, its items were first put on the World Heritage List in 1990, and by the early 2006 their number made up 23, including 15 cultural and 8 natural monuments.
Printed below is their complete list as of January 1, 2006, with the Federation member indicated in brackets (if it does not follow clearly from the name), for trans-border objects arc indicated also countries as well as the year when they were put on the List.
1. Kremlin and Red Square, Moscow (1990).
2. Historic Center of St. Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments (1990).
3. Kizhi Pogost (Republic of Karelia; 1990).
4. Historic Monuments of Novgorod and Surroundings (1992).
5. White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal (Vladimir Region; 1992).
6. Cultural and Historic Ensemble of the Solovetsky Islands (Arkhangelsk Region; 1992).
7. Architectural Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra in Sergiev Posad (Moscow Region; 1993).
8. Church of the Ascension, Kolomenskoye (Moscow; 1994).
9. Ensemble of the Ferrapontov Monastery (Vologda Region; 2000).
10. Historic and Architectural Complex of the Kazan Kremlin (Republic of Tatarstan; 2000).
11. Curonian Spit (Russia, Kaliningrad Region/ Lithuania; 2000).
12. Citadel, Ancient City and Fortress Buildings of Der-bent (Republic of Daghestan; 2003).
13. Ensemble of the Novodevichy Convent (Moscow; 2004).
14. Historical Center of the City of Yaroslavl (2005).
15. Struve Geodetic Arc (Byelorussia / Latvia / Lithuania / Norway / Republic of Moldova / Russian Federation / Ukraine / Finland / Sweden / Estonia; 2005).
16. Virgin Komi Forests (Republic of Komi; 1995).
17. Lake Baikal (Irkutsk Region; Republic of Buryatia; 1996).
18. Volcanoes of Kamchatka (1996, extended in 2001).
19. Golden Mountains of Altai (Republic of Altai; 1998).
20. Western Caucasia (Krasnodar Territory, Adygei Republic, Karachayevo-Cherkess Republic; 1999).
21. Central Sikhole Alin (Primorye Territory; 2001).
22. Uvs Nuur Basin (Russia, Republic of Tyva / Mongolia; 2003).
23. Natural System ofWrangel Island Reserve (Chukot Autonomous Area; 2004).
Russia's cultural objects put on the List include approximately two thousand historical and cultural monuments, with world-famous architectural monuments among them (monuments of the Moscow and Kazan Kremlins, the historic centers of St. Petersburg*, Vladimir, Suzdal. Novgorod and Yaroslavl**, the Church
* See: O. Ageyeva, "Russia's Gateway to the West". Science in Russia, No. 1, 2002. -Ed.
** See: V. Darkevich, "Yaroslavl, a Glory of the Volga". Science in Russia, No. l, 1998. - Ed.
of the Ascension in Moscow's Kolomenskoye*). Other objects include unique palacc-and-park complexes (Peterhof, Oranienbaum, Pushkin, Pavlovsk, Gatchina, Strelna, Ropsha-all of them in the vicinity of the City on the Neva) and monastery complexes (Ensemble of the Ferrapontov Monastery in Vologda Region**, the Novodevichy Convent in Moscow***, Trinity Sergius Lavra. etc.). Standing out among them is the Kizhi Transfiguration Church, in Karelia, a remarkable monument of old Russian wooden architecture; the Curo-nian Spit, a valuable cultural landscape, and also Struve Geodetic Arc, a scientific-and-technical monument (see below for more detail about the last two monuments). Moreover, almost all of the monuments are of certain archeological value, for they contain to a lesser or greater degree cultural layers deposited in the past, conceal old burial places or the ruins of old settlements. For instance, you will find not only the ruins of the local khan's palace (dating back to the second half of the 18th century), but also what has remained of the palace structures dating back to earlier periods (even to the ancient times)) in the Narynkala Citadel (dating back to the 6th-19th centuries) in Derbent (founded in 438 on the Caspian Sea coast). It would be in place to mention here the remains of the Ancient Tartar Citadel on the Kazan Kremlin territory (the Middle Volga area, 16th-17th centuries), circular labyrinths and burial hills on the Solovki Archipelago (the White Sea), whose age is calculated by several thousands of years.
As mentioned above, a part of the heritage objects consists of separately located elements. For instance, "White-stone Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal"**** include two complexes and eight separate buildings, with the world-famous Church of Protection of the Virgin on the Nerl (the 12th century) among them. On the other hand, they may also sprawl on vast territories: for instance, the above-mentioned Cultural and Historic Ensemble of the Solovetsky Islands***** with its great variety of monuments embraces six islands with a total area of 300 sq km. However, the object referred to as "St. Petersburg's Historic Center of St. Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments" is the most complicated spacc-and-territor-ial object. It includes scores of most varied unique historical structures dating back to the 17th-19th centuries.****** They form entire neighborhoods in the city center (the Nevsky Prospekt district, the Liteiny district, the Admiralty district, and so on). Magnificent palacc-and-park complexes (Peterhof, among others) and old fortification complexes (Kronstadt, Schlisselburg, Oreshek) are located in St. Petersburg's vicinity.
Struve Geodetic Arc or Russia-Scandinavia Arc deserves special attention as a transborder object put on the UNESCO List in 2005. It stands out not only among all Russian Heritage objects, but is unique on the entire World Heritage List. What is meant here is the 2,820-km-long chain of old triangular points stretching along the territory often European countries. By starting from the
* See: L. Donskikh, V. Suzdalev, "Kolomenskoye Historical Preserve", Science in Russia, No. 1. 2001. - Ed.
** See: V. Darkevich. "Frescoes of Dionisiy". Science in Russia, No. 4, 2000. - Ed.
*** See: O. Borisova, "Adobe Most Radiant and Wonderfully Adorned". Science in Russia, No. 1, 2005. - Ed.
**** See: V. Darkevich, "The Ancient Glory of Vladimir", Science in Russia, No. 1, 1996; V. Darkevich, "Suzdal: a Fairy Tale in Stone", Science in Russia, No. 2, 1996: O. Bazanova, "Sacred Sites of the Land of Vladimir". Science in Russia, No. 4, 2005. - Ed.
***** See: V. Darkevich. "Sovereign Stronghold' on the White Sea". Science in Russia, No. 5, 2000. - Ed.
****** See: S. Sementsov, "City of Architectural Harmony", Science in Russia. No. 3, 2003. - Ed.
Barents Sea coast, not far from the Norwegian city of Hammerfest, it runs approximately along the 25th Meridian E. to its final link in the area of Izmail, in southwestern Ukraine. The chain's geodetic observation points were laid in 1816 - 1855 underthe guidance of the prominent Russian astronomer and land surveyor Vassily Yakovlevich (Friedrich Georg Wilhelm) Struve, who was a member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences and the founder of the Pulkovo Observatory in St. Petersburg. He was the first to hold the post of the Observatory's director. This triangular system has made it possible to measure with great precision a segment of the earth's meridian arc and, as a result, to determine our planet's dimensions and form with a much greater degree of precision than earlier.
The Curonian Spit, a 100-km-long peninsula on the southern Baltic Sea coast, is another special landmark of the world cultural heritage. It is a unique cultural land-
scape, with its largely pine forestation securing the high sand dunes. Fishermen's villages buried under the sand, that were abandoned by the people in the 18th-19th centuries, were discovered under dunes. Protective engineering structures that are of great value from the view point of history and science, and also architectural and religious architectural monuments have been preserved here*.
It should be noted that although Russia's monuments included on the List are highly variegated, they are distributed unevenly on the territory of this country. Almost all of them are concentrated either in the Center of Russia's European part (Moscow, Vladimir and Suzdal, Sergiev Posad** in the Moscow Region and Yaroslavl) or
* See: V. Kulakov, "Varangians in the 'Land of Nests'", Science in Russia, No, 6. 2002. - Ed.
** See: V. Darkevich, "The Monastery of St. Scrgius'". Science in Russia, No. 2, 2000. - Ed.
in its northwestern or northern part (St. Petersburg and its vicinity, Novgorod*, The Ferrapontov Monastery, the Kizhi Church and the Solovki Islands). And the country's remaining territory can boast solely of three landmarks: the Curonian Spit (Russia's westernmost area), Derbent (the western Caspian Sea coast) and the Kazan Kremlin (the Middle Volga area).
Most of the monuments put on the List date back to the Middle Ages. The center of Novgorod, Vladimir and Suzdal, just as the main structures of the Moscow Kremlin, Kolomenskoye, the Novodevichy Convent, the Ferrapontov Monastery, the Trinity Sergius Lavra and the Solovki Kremlin date back to the 9th-17th centuries. Most of the monuments of St. Petersburg and its vicinity, the wooden structures of Kizhi and many monuments of Yaroslavl's historical part date back to the 18th-19th centuries. The Curonian Spit cultural landscape as it looks today took shape in the second half of the 19th century. Certain of these landmarks with their numerous monuments dating back to various epochs (the Moscow and Kazan Kremlins, the Solovki Islands, Derbent) seem to have marched through the ages, as it were, embracing quite a long historical period of hundreds and (with account of ancient architectural finds) thousands of years.
Eight of the Russian landmarks account for a scanty 5 percent of their total quantity in the world; however, they play a significant role, for they represent Northern Eurasia as a whole.
For instance, the Virgin Forests of Komi represent Europe's largest mass of the virgin northern taiga. Lake Baikal is the world's oldest (25 million years old) and deepest (over 1,600 m) fresh water lake, famous for its great multitude of endemic wildlife and vegetation (it is the habitat of approximately 75 percent of the local unique animals and plants). The volcanoes of Kamchatka include the Klyuchevskaya Bald Mountain-Eurasia's highest (4,750 m) active volcano and the Geyser Valley that is among the world's largest geyser concentrations. The Altai Golden Mountains include the Mt. Belukha (4,506 m) representing Siberia's highest peak and also 325m-deep Lake Teletskoye located
* See: V. Darkevich, "Republic on thc\folkhov". Science in Russia, No. 5, 1998. - Ed.
436 m above sea level and sprawling on a vast area of 223 sq km. Moreover, this part of Altai is the habitat of exceptionally rare animal species (snow leopard, mountain sheep argali, among others). The Western Caucasia is Europe's largest massif of virgin mountain forests, with a herd of European bizons (included in the International Red Data Book) roaming these forests.
Central Sikhote Alin is an area overgrown with most valuable coniferous-and-broad leaf forests (they have been recognized as the Northern Hemisphere's richest and most unique forests for the species composition) and the habitat of the Amur tiger* and goat antelope (both included in the International Red Data Book). The Uvs Nuur Basin is something unique on the scale of entire Eurasia for its rare combination of contrasting landscapes: from highlands to sand deserts. The area of Wrangel Island (on the border of the East Siberian and Chukot seas), with its world's most significant concentration of the white bear's patrimonial lairs, stand out among all Arctic islands for its great biological variety.
I'd like to add that in Russia the above-mentioned landmarks occupy a total of 20 mln ha and include 11 natural reserves, four national parks and seven natural parks and represent very complicated and vast areas. Indeed, five of them sprawl on an area of over 1 mln ha, and Lake Baikal (8.8 mln ha)** rates fourth by its dimensions on the UNESCO List (with the Australian Great Barrier Reef occupying an area of 35 mln ha at the top of the List).
The landmarks of nature put on the UNESCO List are exceptionally variegated and as an ideal should represent the great variety of the Earth's ecosystems and various natural phenomena. Such an approach represents as a matter of fact the goal of UNESCO international experts. For such landmarks should include highland areas, volcanoes and geysers, massifs of primeval forests, parts of deserts, steppes and savannas, tundras and sparsely forested areas and also caves and waterfalls, rivers and lakes, swamps, river deltas and mangrove brushwood, fiords, reefs, atolls, islands, and so on.
True, Russia's landmarks may look to a certain extent as much of the same type. After all they largely include 1,500 - 2,000m-high or higher mountainous areas, such as the Western Caucasus, Altai, Central Sikhote Alin, the
* See: V. Zhivotchenko, "Meet Ihe Amur Tiger". Science in ihe USSR, No. 3, 1991. -Ed.
** See: E. Solomatina, "Taking a Close Look of Baikal". Science in Russia, No. 3, 1995. - Ed.
ranges surrounding Lake Baikal or Kamchatka's baid mountains. Wrangel Island and the Uvs Nuur Hollow may be regarded as exceptions from this row of high mountains, although even the former two have individual peaks to boast of. Thanks to the considerable dimensions of Russia's natural landmarks and to their complicated structure this situation has been corrected. They include not only highlands (with their glaciers, waterfalls, caves and other typical Alpine relief elements) but also low mountain relief, mountain plateaus and sometimes also the adjoining plains, river valleys, large water reservoirs. Their distribution along Russia is to a great extent uneven: they seem to be nestling against Russia's mountainous and maritime outskirts. Almost all of them are located outside flat country natural landscape areas overgrown with zonal (tundra, forest, steppe, steppe-and-forest) vegetation. As a result, it turns out that Russia's nature has not so far won the rating its deserves owing to its exceedingly rich variety of natural forms.
In the future, as the World Heritage List is gradually expanded, new Russian landmarks will certainly be put on it: a whole number of the respective proposals have been put forward, with certain of them being realized. The following may be regarded as the most probable nominations to the respective status: Djeirakh-Assinsky Histo-rical-and-Cultural Reserve (the Republic of Ingushetia), the Rostov Kremlin Complex (Yaroslavl Region), the Greater Pskov (Pskov Region) and Bolgar (Tatarstan) historical-and-architectural complexes.
The Putoran Plateau (East Siberia's north), Lake Valdai (Novgorod Region), the Komandorskiye and the Kurile islands, the Magadan (Magadan Region) and Daursky (Chita Region) reserves and also a transborder landmark- Fennoscandia Green Belt (a complex of forest massifs stretching along the Russian-Finnish and Russian-Norwegian borders) may be described as the most likely among the natural landmarks to be put on the List.
If these and other proposals are implemented, our country's cultural monuments and natural landmarks will be reflected in the UNESCO World Heritage List more adequately in keeping with their real cultural and natural variety.
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