1.         Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe (Albania,Austria,Belgium,Bulgaria,Croatia,Germany,Italy,Romania,Slovakia,Slovenia,Spain,Ukraine) (N 1133ter)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2007

Criteria  (ix)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1133/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1133/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

October 2014: World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1133/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017

On 1 December 2016, the State Party of Slovakia submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1133/documents/ and reports the following:

On 3 April 2017, the State Party of Slovakia provided additional information, as requested by the World Heritage Centre on 17 January 2017, specifying that the components Stužica-Bukovské vrchy and Vihorlat require significant boundary modifications while the components of Havešová and Rožok only need to be aligned to the boundaries of existing national nature reserves. Further negotiations with relevant stakeholders are expected to be completed by August 2017. The development of the Integrated Management Plan for all Slovak components is planned for 2019.

A nomination for a transnational serial extension to the property has been submitted by the States Parties of Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and Ukraine, which will be examined by the Committee under item 8B of the Agenda.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The progress made in implementing the recommendations of the 2014 Reactive Monitoring mission is welcomed and should be continued in line with the following considerations:

The State Party’s efforts to engage a broad range of stakeholders, including the World Heritage Centre, to explore how sustainable tourism could serve as an alternative source of income for local people and as a vehicle for sustainable development around the property as well as in the Central European region in general should be welcomed. The measures undertaken by the State Party of Slovakia to enhance the protection regime of the parts of the property, which to date have not been fully protected against logging, namely the creation of an “Ecological functional area”, should also be welcomed. This was achieved through a new Management Plan for the Poloniny National Park and includes forest stands of the Stužica – Bukovské vrchy component as well as the establishment of the new Borsukov vrch nature reserve, covering other parts of the same component. Nevertheless, even with these additional measures and despite the voluntary commitment of some entities not to carry out logging operations, only parts of the Slovak components of the property are currently legally protected against logging. The reported negotiations between different ministries and the creation of an interdepartmental coordination group based on the cooperation and collaboration agreement signed between the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development can serve as an important step in the process of the development of an IMP. However, the lack of substantial progress in this regard raises concerns. In the absence of an IMP and with only parts of the territory benefiting from a strengthened protection regime, the Slovak components of the property continue to be threatened by logging.

It is noted that the negotiations necessary for a proposal for boundary modifications, as requested by the Committee, are underway. The new delineation of the Slovak components should ensure that the most important areas for the expression of the OUV of the property are included and that all areas within the property benefit from a sufficient legal protection regime, with consent given to such regime by all relevant stakeholders through a participatory process. While the State Party of Slovakia reports that some potential boundary modification proposals have been considered and that more time is needed to discuss the possible options with all relevant stakeholders, it is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party of Slovakia to finalize and submit a proposal for a boundary modification of the Slovak components of the property as soon as possible.

Unless further urgent measures are taken to completely resolve the issue of the lack of an adequate protection regime of the Slovak components of the property and to ensure that their boundary delineation is adequate, the protection of these components from logging and other potential threats cannot be guaranteed in the long-term. Such a situation would clearly constitute a potential danger to the OUV of the serial transnational property as a whole, in line with Paragraphs 137 and 180 of the Operational Guidelines.

Decision Adopted: 41 COM 7B.4

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 39 COM 7B.19, adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),
  3. Welcomes the efforts of the State Party of Slovakia to explore how sustainable tourism could contribute to sustainable development around the property as well as the information provided by the State Party regarding the establishment of a new nature reserve and of an “ecological functional area” covering parts of the property located within Poloniny National Park, but notes with utmost concern that, despite these measures and the voluntary commitment of some entities involved not to carry out logging operations, only parts of the Slovak components of the property are currently legally protected against logging;
  4. Also notes with concern that no Integrated Management Plan (IMP) has been established for the Slovak components of the property; reiterates its request to the State Party of Slovakia to ensure that no logging operations take place within the property’s boundaries until this issue is resolved through the development, in consultation with the other States Parties for this property, of an IMP for the Slovak components of the property, focused on nature conservation and taking into account all international designations, such as World Heritage property, Biosphere Reserve, European Diploma and Natura 2000 and urges the State Party to ensure that no logging will be possible within the property’s boundaries after the adoption of the plan;
  5. Takes note that negotiations regarding possible boundary modifications of the Slovak components of the property are planned to be completed in 2017, and also urges the State Party of Slovakia to submit a proposal for such boundary modifications as soon as possible, after consultation with the other States Parties for this property;
  6. Also welcomes the State Party’s progress made in implementing the recommendations of the 2014 Reactive Monitoring mission and requests the State Party to continue its efforts to complete the implementation of all mission recommendations;
  7. Considers that, unless urgent measures are taken to address the lack of an adequate protection regime of the Slovak components of the property and to ensure that their boundary delineation is adequate, their protection from logging and other potential threats cannot be guaranteed in the long-term, which would clearly constitute a potential danger to the OUV of this serial transnational property as a whole, in line with Paragraphs 137 and 180 of the Operational Guidelines;
  8. Also requests the State Party of Slovakia, in consultation with the other States Parties for this property, to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2018, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.

Decision Adopted: 41 COM 8B.7

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Documents WHC/17/41.COM/8B and WHC/17/41.COM/INF.8B2,
  2. Approves the extension of Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany, Slovakia, Ukraine and Germany, to become Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe, Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Germany, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine, on the World Heritage List, on the basis of criterion (ix);
  3. Takes note of the following provisional Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

    Brief synthesis

    The “Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and other Regions of Europe” are a serial property comprising 77 component parts in total. They represent an outstanding example of anthropogenically undisturbed, complex temperate forests and exhibit the most complete and comprehensive ecological patterns and processes of pure and mixed stands of European beech across a variety of environmental conditions. They contain an invaluable genetic reservoir of beech and many species associated and dependent on these forest habitats.

    Criterion (ix): The “Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and other Regions of Europe” are indispensable to understand the history and evolution of the genus Fagus which, given its wide distribution in the Northern Hemisphere and its ecological importance, is globally significant. These undisturbed, complex temperate forests exhibit the most complete and comprehensive ecological patterns and processes of pure and mixed stands of European beech across a variety of environmental conditions, such as climatic and geological conditions, throughout all relevant European Beech Forest Regions. They comprise all altitudinal zones from the coast up to the forest line in the mountains and, furthermore, include the best remaining examples of the outer boundaries of the European beech forest range. Beech is one of the most important elements of forests in the Temperate Broadleaf Forest Biome and represents an outstanding example of the re-colonization and development of terrestrial ecosystems and communities since the last Ice Age. The continuing northern and westward expansion of beech from its original glacial refuge areas in the eastern and southern parts of Europe can be tracked along natural corridors and stepping stones spanning the continent. More recent changes in the distribution pattern of this species relate to direct influences of human disturbance and the more complex effects of anthropogenically induced climate change. Both historic and present serial patterns of distribution represent natural evolutionary strategies for adapting and surviving environmental change. The dominance of beech across extensive areas of Europe is a living testimony of the tree’s genetic adaptability.

    Integrity

    The selected beech forest sites not only represent the full serial diversity found across Europe, they are also of sufficient size to maintain natural processes necessary for the long-term ecological viability of the wider ecosystem. Buffer zones including surrounding protected areas (nature parks, biosphere reserves) are managed sympathetically to ensure the long-term conservation of the particular character of the designated beech forests together with its inherent attributes. Next to criteria such as the extent of the forest area and the presence of an effective buffer zone, key characteristics, which were also used in the site selecting process included the average age of the forest stand and the period since it was last managed or actively disturbed. The evaluation criteria used in the selection process helped to describe the degree of naturalness of a forest, but also provide some indication of the inherent functional capacity of the ecosystem. Finally, where appropriate, special emphasis was given to connectivity between beech forests and the surrounding complementary habitats as a perceived prerequisite for ecosystem functioning and adaptation to environmental change.

    Protection and management requirements

    Long-term protection and management is ensured through national legal protection as national parks, core areas of a biosphere reserve or other types of protected areas. Effective implementation of an integrated management plan and a multilateral integrated management system is required to guide the planning and management of this serial property. Key management issues include forest fire control and conservation of monumental old trees, conservation and management of mountain meadows, river corridors and freshwater ecosystems, tourism management, research and monitoring. Cooperative management agreements with local groups and tourism agencies can enhance the achievement of management goals and ensure local community engagement in the component parts.

  4. Takes note of the outcome of the screening process as a proposal for the finite series in this nomination process, based on a strictly scientific selection. The defined statement of Outstanding Universal Value and the amended property name should be coherent with the current inscribed property and will ensure that possible future extensions will be clearly and consistently configured;
  5. Thanks the States Parties for their cooperation in developing this nomination;
  6. Requests the States Parties to consider the future enlargement of components in consultation with IUCN and the World Heritage Centre, to at least the established minimum size of 50 ha, and to strengthen the protection level within buffer zones and the improvement of ecological connectivity especially between component parts, and further recommends interested States Parties to ensure that component parts included in any future extensions exceed minimum requirements to fully meet integrity, protection and management requirements;
  7. Also requests the States Parties to ensure that committed funding arrangements are able to safeguard consistent site management at the component level as well as coordinated management across the transnational serial property;
  8. Further requests that special emphasis shall be given to appropriate buffer zone management in order to support undisturbed natural processes with special emphasis on dead and decaying wood, including ongoing monitoring of threats and risks, making effective use of the expertise and institutional capacity in management of the property;
  9. Requests furthermore the States Parties to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 December 2018 a report on the implementation of the above-mentioned recommendations for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session in 2019.