PARIS, February 17. /TASS/. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is preparing a mission to Lake Baikal in collaboration with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to assess the ecological status of the lake, the representative of UNESCO headquarters in Paris told TASS on Thursday.
“This is a joint mission of two organizations, which will be sent to Russia on February 28 to assess the condition of Lake Baikal, which is a natural World Heritage Site,” the representative said, adding that the “mission is carried out under the direction of the World Heritage Committee, which made this proposal at the last annual session.
“Participants will visit the main areas of the nature reserve. They will also meet with all interested parties to review all key aspects,” the representative said, adding that “the results of this mission will become the basis for a new report. which will be considered at the next session in June 2022 in Kazan.”
The spokesperson noted that UNESCO “has expressed concerns about the expansion of construction along the shoreline of the lake, even in protected areas.”
Specialists have also sounded the alarm over the increasing level of environmental contamination and the low water level of Lake Baikal. Previously, UNESCO had speculated that the freshwater lake reserve could be placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world (maximum depth of 1,642 meters) and the largest drinking water reservoir in the world, containing around 20% of the drinking water of the globe. Lake Baikal and its coastal areas have a unique diversity of flora and fauna. There are about 2,600 species and subspecies of aquatic animals, and more than half of them are endemic (living only in this area). More than 300 rivers feed the lake, while only one – the Angara – has its source here. The lake was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List over 25 years ago.