World Heritage Watch (WHW – https://world-heritage-watch.org/ ) is the first NGO focusing exclusively on World Heritage sites, both cultural and natural, and both inscribed and listed tentatively. The WHW network includes more than 180 groups and individuals from different parts of the world. World Heritage Watch task is to work with UNESCO and its Advisory Bodies, and to complement their efforts for the effective implementation of the World Heritage Convention and the safeguarding of World Heritage Sites.
Why did the creators of the organization decide to take up such a difficult task? They explain this as follows: «But more and more world heritage sites are threatened by development pressure, mass tourism, war, resource depletion, urbanization, climate change and investor projects, but also by neglect and mismanagement. UNESCO alone is powerless; it can only warn governments».
One of the most important forms of work of WHW is the collection of information from independent sources, its dissemination and provision to the governing bodies of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. This allows the world community to more reasonably judge the condition of objects and make informed decisions.
WHW recently released its next 2021 results report (https://world-heritage-watch.org/content/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/WHW-Report-2021.pdf). This year’s World Heritage Watch Report has 49 contributions, almost 20% more than last year’s.
One material prepared by the Ecological Society «Green Salvation» is dedicated to the Ile-Alatau National Park, included in the tentative list for inclusion in the World Heritage List from Kazakhstan, back in 2002! Almost all of the above threats currently hang over the territory of the national park: development pressure, mass tourism, depletion of water resources, urbanization, climate change, investment projects, and poor management.
In general, there is a lack of understanding of the role and importance of protected areas at all levels of society, from ordinary people to officials, including the highest level.
During 2019 and 2020, the Ecological Society «Green Salvation» has repeatedly drawn the attention of the Committee for Forestry and Wildlife, which subordinates national parks, and other authorized state bodies to the need to ensure the rule of law and strict compliance with international agreements.
The Ecological Society «Green Salvation» believes that it is necessary to introduce the following fundamental changes in the legislation and in the management of protected areas:
- Bring the environmental legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan in line with the requirements of international conventions.
- To remove all third-party (outside) land owners from the borders of protected areas of republican significance.
- Completely prohibit the transfer of protected areas from the category of “land of protected areas” to the category of “reserve land.”
- To prohibit capital construction in reserves and national parks, except for what is necessary for the functioning of their administrations.
- To prohibit the provision of land plots of national parks for lease, with the exception of the construction of strategic facilities.
- Local authorities of some administrative territories intervene in the conservation activities of national parks located in these territories. It is necessary to amend the law on protected areas to prohibit such interference.
For details, see the report p.190