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Extension to the Joint World Heritage Property “Primeval Beech forests of the Carpathians (Slovak Republic and Ukraine) and the Ancient Beech forests of Germany (Germany)

Date of Submission: 30/01/2015
Criteria: (ix)
Category: Natural
Submitted by:
Ministry of Culture of Romania
Ref.: 6023
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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party

Description

The future nomination, which is subject of this Tentative List entry, represents an extension to the World Heritage property “Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany” (Germany, Slovakia, Ukraine, WHC ref-no 1133bis). This property was inscribed by the World Heritage Committee first in 2007 as “Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians, Slovakia and Ukraine” and extended in 2011 by the component parts “Ancient Beech Forests of Germany” (Germany) to the present serial transnational site. The future nomination (its name will be decided at a later stage of the process) is of serial, transnational character and consists of 33 components parts in 12 State Parties. The component parts represent an outstanding example of undisturbed, complex temperate forests, its postglacial expansion process 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.

Name(s) of the component part(s)

Izvoarele Nerei: Romania, Caraș Severin County; East: 22.0630474593; North: 45.1208801105;

Cheile Nerei-Beușnița: Romania, Caraș Severin County; East: 21.7961349634; North: 44.9045420771;

Domogled-Valea Cernei: Domogled-Coronini-Bedina: Romania, Caraș Severin County; East: 22.4629834323; North: 44.942856231;

Domogled-Valea Cernei: Iauna Craiovei: Romania, Caraș Severin County and Mehedinți County; East: 22.5867541573; North: 45.1030544123;

Domogled-Valea Cernei: Ciucevele Cernei: Romania, Caraș Severin County and Gorj County; East: 22.8291618508; North: 45.2492761287;

Cozia: Masivul Cozia: Romania, Vâlcea County; East: 24.3249002427; North: 45.3337767783;

Cozia: Lotrișor: Romania, Vâlcea County; East: 24.2609157571; North: 45.3022686856;

Codrul secular Șinca: Romania, Brașov County; East: 25.1670301947; North: 45.6693853325;

Codrul secular Slătioara: Romania, Suceava County; East: 25.6264696834; North: 47.4427250275;

Groșii Țibleșului: Izvorul Șurii: Romania,  Maramureș County; East: 24.1856626727; North: 47.55192914;

Groșii Țibleșului: Preluci: Romania,  Maramureș County; East: 24.2196234099; North: 47.537020999;

Strâmbu Băiuț: Romania,  Maramureș County; East: 24.0780942593; North: 47.628044072;

Description of the component part(s)

Izvoarele Nerei

Location, geography and land-use: The proposed component part of Izvoarele Nerei is located in the South-Western Carpathians of Romania, in the historical region of Banat. It is situated on the southern slope of the Semenic mountain massif encompassing the small depressions of the rivers Nergana and Nergăniţa, from whose confluence the river Nera is formed at the base of the area of the proposed component part (Biriş et al. 2012).

The proposed component part Izvoarele Nerei coincides almost completely with the Scientific Reserve “Izvoarele Nerei” (5028 ha). The proposed component part is slightly smaller than the Scientific Reserve as it encompasses exclusively the valuable old growth forest areas and excludes some small areas with buildings belonging to the water administration and the related administrative lands as well as areas that are affected by clearings belonging to the public property of the Prigor Commune (Biriş et al. 2012).

he ”Izvoarele Nerei” Scientific Reserve is one of the largest remnant virgin forests in Europe (Turcu 2008). It is one of the special conservation areas of the Semenic – Cheile Caraşului National Park.

The component part is completely surrounded by deciduous forests dominated mainly by beech, unless a small patch in the North towards the Semenic Peak, which is not forested. The buffer zone is part, unless at the western side, of the Semenic – Cheile Caraşului National Park covering 36,214 ha[1]. In the areas bordering the component part in the south without and within the national park, forest areas show heavy degradation including erosion and intense regeneration cuts coinciding with a higher density of forest road infrastructure indicating a high pressure on the component part. Small parts of the buffer area from north-west and south-west outreach the national park´s borders. 

The Semenic – Cheile Caraşului National Park ranges from 200 up to 1447 m.a.s.l.. In the south it directly connects to the Cheile Nerei – Beuşniţa National Park that includes component part Cheile Nerei – Beuşniţa (PNSCC 2013).

Altitude and relief. The altitude of the component part varies between 620 and 1400 m. (Ocolul Silvic Nera Management Plan, 2005).

The general orientation of the component is to south, but there are various kinds of orientations (mainly eastern and western slopes) due to the north-south position of the secondary valleys.

Climate. The proposed component part Izvoarele Nerei is located in a temperate continental climate with Mediterranean influences. The local climate of the site, determined by the general climate, is modified by the forms and elements of relief, by the differences in elevation, winds and vegetation. (Biriş et l. 2012)

The average annual temperature at the lower parts falls between 9 and 10 degrees Celsius and decreases with the increase of the relief’s elevation: on the Nergana and the Nergăniţa Valleys, the average annual temperature is 7.5 degrees Celsius, and on the Semenic Peak it is 4 degrees Celsius. Late frosts occur quite frequently (Biriş et al. 2012).

Precipitations are also distributed according to the atmospheric circulation and to the layered relief. In the region of the hills, they range between 750 and 900 mm; in the middle mountain layer – between 900 and 1050 mm, and on the Semenic Peak the average rainfall is 1200 mm.

The territory of the “Izvoarele Nerei” reserve is dominated by the circulation of air masses from the west and north-west. (Biriş et al.  2012)

Geology, Soils and Hydrology. The geological conditions are relatively uniform throughout the reserve, as only a single type of rock (mica schists) has been identified on the entire area of the reserve, with a small exception, an area covered with granites and granodiorites.  On most parts of the reserve area is found the soil type dystric cambisol (Ocolul Silvic Nera Management Plan, 2005 in: Biriş et al. 2012; PNSCC, 2013) which is  moist also in summer. On this type of soil pure beech forests of high productivity can be found (Biriş et al. 2012).

In two extreme areas of the reserve - the upper part, neighbouring the Semenic alpine barren, and the base of the reserve, where the slopes are very steep (close to the confluence of the rivers Nergana and Nergăniţa) - soil is characterized by a higher quantity of skeleton, lowering the productivity of the beech forests in dependency of the water supply of the specific locality (Biriş et al.  2012).

Because forest vegetation has a high degree of coverage, there has been no slopewash and no loose accumulations of rocks. Soil debris at the base of the slope is formed. (Biriş et al. 2012)

The hydrographical network is dense and rich in water all year long (Ocolul Silvic Nera Management Plan, 2005; Bândiu et al., 1995; Tomescu et al., 2004 in: Biriş et al.  2012).

Water of exceptional quality is supplied to many towns of the territory. The underground water is very high, and in the areas that have slight depressions, springs appear forming small wet surfaces (0.1 – 0.5 ha) where swamps are formed and the herbaceous vegetation forms peat, making these areas being naturally not occupied by forest (Biriş et al. 2012)

Vegetation and Forest. Due to the extraordinary soil quality and soils that are very advantageous for beech, being deep and having a very favourable water regime, these exceptional beech stands of pure mountain beech forest (Ocolul Silvic Nera Management Plan, 2005 in Biriş et al. 2012) developed, beech being the completely dominant species.

There are also a few other single exemplars of elm (Ulmus glabra), field maple (Acer platanoides), mountain maple (Acer pseudoplatanus), aspen (Populus tremula), birch (Betula pendula) located nearby the limits of the Reserve. As normally they would not be present in the composition of these kind of mountain beech forests, most probably they migrated in the past decades from the outside of the Reserve (where the forests were harvested, their composition changed and these species are present) (Turcu 2008).

Although there should naturally be a layer of beech-fir mixture referring to the following climatic and altitudinal zoning (according to Doniţă, quoted by Bândiu et al., 1995 in: Biriş et al. 2012):

  • Mixtures of beech and coniferous trees (900-1400 m);
  • Mountain beech forests (800-1250 m);
  • Hill beech forests (500-800 m),

in the proposed component the silver fir is practically absent and the beech is the absolute dominant species.

The upper altitudinal limit of the forest is represented by beech, and it is supposed (Ciobanu, 1946; Pop, 1962, quoted by Bândiu et al., 1995 in: Biriş et al. 2012) that this limit has been conquered at a relatively recent date, as in the historical past it was represented by spruce forests and mixtures of fir and beech trees (Biriş et al. 2012).

The forests of the “Izvoarele Nerei” Scientific Reserve belong to the plant association Asperulo–Fagetum, corresponding to the habitat 91V0 - Dacian beech forest (Symphyto-Fagion) of the European Habitats Directive (Biriş et al. 2012).

The underwood is absent in most cases; if it is nevertheless present, it is made up of common hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), dogwood (Cornus sanguinea.), hazel (Corylus avellana), privet (Ligustrum vulgare), elder (Sambucus nigra), blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), and dog-rose (Rosa canina). The abundant, dominant and constant species of the herbaceous layer is woodruff (Asperula odorata). (Biriş et al. 2012)

The forest stands included in the proposed site are fundamentally natural stands, the vast majority having been very little influenced by man. The virgin beech forests have a typically uneven aged structure, characterised by exemplary stability in time and space (Biriş et al. 2012). The average volume per hectare is 868 m3/ha, varying between 610 and 1159 m3/ha. (Biriş et al. 2012). Beech trees with a height of up to 50 m, a diameter of 140-160 cm and up to 300-350 years old are characteristic for the component part (Giurgiu et al. 2001).

Cheile Nerei-Beușnița

Location, geography and land-use. The proposed component part Cheile Nerei - Beuşniţa is situated in the South-Western Carpathians of Romania, on the South-Western slopes of the Semenic-Almaj Mountains covering parts of the Anina Mountains and the Oraviţa Hills in the middle basin of Nera river (Biriş et al.  2012). As being a karst area, the geomorphology shows steep valley and gorges, with streams and rivers that do not carry water in dry periods, karstic springs, caves, rocks and dolines. The component part is encompassing the Nera Gorge as well as the Beuşniţa basin and in the Rea valley. The component part covers mainly forested areas, but also scrubs, semi-natural grasslands and rocky habitats. The Cheile Nerei – Beuşniţa National Park (36.758 ha, of which 26.373 ha are forested) is surrounding the component part completely and connects in the north to the Semenic - Cheile Caraşului National Park encompassing the component Izvorele Nerei. Most of the component part is included into the “Cheile Nerei – Beuşniţa” Scientific Reserve (3081.3 ha), a special conservation area within the National Park.  In the South the Cheile Nerei – Beuşniţa National Park is connected to the Porţile de Fier Natural Park.

Altitude and relief. The area of the component part ranges between 150-1150m (Biriș et al. 2012). The area is mostly located on slopes, most of them showing great relief energy. About 75% of the slopes have a gradient from 16 to 40 degrees. The general orientation of the component part is towards the South, with variations of the slopes (Biriș et al. 2012).

Climate. The proposed component part is situated in the area of temperate continental climate, with sub Mediterranean influences characterized by a moderate regime of temperature oscillations, moderate winters, early and short springs, warm and less humid summers and long, sometimes droughty, autumns. The annual average temperature is between 8 and 10° C. The annual precipitation average is 700 – 1100 mm, the most frequent are in June and the less frequent in September. (Biriş et al. 2012)

Geology, Soils and Hydrology. Geologically, the lithological substrate of the candidate area is made of limestone (lithographic and dolomitic limestone), with silica and marl lentils, crystalline schists, silicone marbles, sands and gravel. On this kind of lithological substrates a great variety of soils developed, from mostly leptosols and euthric cambisols to luvisols in some parts (Biriş et al. 2012).

The hydrological network within the component part is well developed. The bigger valleys (BeușnițaValley and Rea Valley) have a perennial water regime, although the hydrological regime is not constant throughout the year. It rises in the seasons with most rainfall (end of autumn and in the spring) and in dry seasons streams can dry out completely and springs disappear (Biriş et al. 2012).

Vegetation and Forest. The component part comprises hilly pure beech forests and mixed forests with sessile oak (Quercus petraea), common oak (Quercus robur), Turkey oak (Quercus cerris), hornbeam (Carpinus betulus), linden tree (Tilia cordata, T. tomentosa and T. plathyphyllos), sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus), field maple (Acer platanoides), ash (Fraxinus excelsior), manna (Fraxinus ornus), Turkish hazel (Corylus colurna), oriental hornbeam (Carpinus orientalis), growing on superficial soils or soils having a high quantity of skeleton. Beech covers over 80% of the forest stand, although specimens of big diameter e.g. of Turkish hazel (Corylus colurna) and yew (Taxus baccata) can be found under the beech tree layer (Biriş et al. 2012).

The vegetation covered by numerous termophilous species show strong influences from the Balkan (Moesic and Illyrian) region. The forests cover the habitat types Asperulo-Fagetum beech forests (9130),  Medio-European limestone beech forest of the Cephalanterion-Fagion (9150), Galio-Carpinetum oak-hornbeam forests (9170) and Tilio-Acerion forests of slopes, screes and ravines (9180*) according to the EU- Habitats Directive. Beiului Valley is almost completely covered by impressive formations of tufa (7220*) and along the calcareous ridges and cliffs there are rocky slopes with chasmophytic vegetation (8210), screes (8160*), caves (8310) and low deciduous scrubs with continental and submediteranean afinities (40A0*) that host a large number of endemic species of flora and fauna (Biriş 2012).

The Medio-European limestone beech forest of the Cephalanterion-Fagion are xerothermic beech forests often on shallow calcareous soils derived from weathered calcareous rock (rendzinas) on dry and warm sites. The tree and shrub layers are species-rich with sessile oak (Quercus petraea), whitebeam (Sorbus aria), field maple (Acer campestre), common privet (Ligustrum vulgare) etc., the herbaceous layer is species-rich with numerous thermophilous and calciphilous species, including orchids. It is distinguished from the Asperulo-Fagetum beech forests by the presence of thermphilous plant species (BfN 2012). The forest of fundamental natural type, or partially slightly changed, is characterized by a non-homogenous structure regarding age, benefiting from the natural stratification of different species. The age structure of these natural forests also includes dominant trees whose age is limited only by natural mortality factors (Biriş et al. 2012).

Domogled - Valea Cernei: Domogled - Coronini – Bedina, Iauna Craiovei and Ciucevele Cernei

Location, geography and land-use. The proposed component parts of Domogled - Coronini – Bedina, Iauna Craiovei and Ciucevele Cernei are located in the Southern Carpathians of Romania and share the buffer zone Domogled-Valea Cernei National Park.

The National Park stretches over three counties (Caraş Severin, Mehedinţi and Gorj) covering an area of 61.211 ha of which 75% are forested. Very special is that it includes an entire hydrographical basin (Biriş et al. 2012).

The longitudinal Cerna Valley follows the tectonic line between Vâlcan and Mehedinţi Mountains in the south-west and Godeanu Massif and Cerna Mountains in the north-east.

Due to the differences in elevation and location of the component part Ciucevele Cernei, at the very upper north-eastern part of the Cerna valley, the component part Iauna Craiovei in the middle course of Cerna river on the slopes located North-West of the river bed and the component part Domogled - Coronini – Bedina in the lower part of the Cerna valley, the site conditions are very different.

The terrain of the Ciucevele Cernei component part is characterized by fast developing erosion being the typical geomorphological process from the mountain side due to the accentuated slopes and the lithological substrate. This leads to highly jointed terrain in some places and in the formation of areas with raw soils, on which, in general forest stands do not grow very well. (Biriş et al. 2012).

The Iauna Craiovei component part is characterized by mainly steep slopes oriented towards South and South-East.

Domogled - Coronini – Bedina component part is characterized by rocky slopes and screes covered by forest vegetation and shrubs. The left side of Valea Cernei is characterized by karst relief, very diverse – dolines, clints, karst springs, valleys, caves, detritus, rocky slopes, screes and cliffs, gaps, gorges.  The right side of Valea Cernei is characterized by metamorphic formations.

Altitude and relief. The altitude of Ciucevele Cernei ranges between 775 and 1620 m.a.s.l. . Iauna Craiovei ranges between 400 m and 1560 m.a.s.l. and Domogled - Coronini – Bedina  between 160 m and 1300 m.  (Biriş et al. 2012).

Climate. The climate of the Ciucevele Cernei component part is characterized by moderate summers and harsh winters receiving significant precipitation in all seasons. The thermal regime is characterized by an average yearly temperature of 6.3 °C, with the maximum monthly average temperature of 20.2 °C in July and the minimum monthly average temperature in January with a value of - 4 °C.

The yearly average quantity of precipitations is 938 mm. May and June are the months with the biggest average precipitations, followed by a second maximum in late autumn (October-November) (Biriş et al. 2012).

The component part Iauna Craiovei has a temperate climate with submediterranean influences. The annual average temperature is 6.6°C, with the maximum monthly average temperature of 20.5 °C in July and the minimum monthly average temperature in January with a value of - 4 °C.

Rainfalls are approximately 1050 mm per year. The annual repartition of precipitations has two maximal values in May and November and two minimal values in March and September as a consequence of Mediterranean influences. (Biriş et al. 2012)

The component part Domogled - Coronini – Bedina has a temperate climate with strong sub Mediterranean influences (mild winters and warm and dry summers). The annual average temperature is varying between 8.0-9.5 °C, according the altitude. Rainfalls are approximately 760-850 mm per year.

Geology, Soils and Hydrology. The area of Ciucevele Cernei shows a great geological diversity. On the ramifications of Cerna Mountains, the forests developed mostly on metamorphic formations from the upper Precambrian, and on a smaller scale, on pre-alpine magmatic formations associated with crystalline slates. The lithological formations encountered on the ramifications of Mehedinţi Mountains, contain mostly amphibolites and amphibolitic schists. On the Cerna river valley, the lithological substrate is formed from sedimentary formations from the upper and inferior Cretaceous. Typical soils occurring in the component area are cambisols and podzol  (Biriş et al. 2012).

The Ciucevele Cernei component is characterized by a dense hydrographic network. The water flow varies during the year, reaching maximum values in spring after the snow melting and having minimum values in winter. The streams carry a high sediment load from eroding non-forested areas (Biriş et al. 2012).

The component part Iauna Craiovei is part of the crystalline schists area of the Cerna Mountains. The lithological substrate is largely built of metamorphic rocks (mica-schists, paragneisses, marls), as well as there can be found depositions of rocks (conglomerates, marls, argillaceous schists). Those rocks have favoured the development of skeletal cambisols and podzols. (Biriş et al. 2012)

Also the hydrological network of Iauna Craiovei is extended. The main small depressions are of the affluents Iauna Mare and Craiova having a continuous flow, but seasonal fluctuations. (Biriş et al. 2012).

The component part Domogled - Coronini – Bedina consists of two distinct part from geomorphological point of view, separated from Valea Cernei: crystalline schists in the right side of the valley and limestones in the left one.

Vegetation and Forest.  At the lower parts of the slopes of the Ciucevele Cernei component part, that contain more moisture, beech forests with more than 95% beech in the stand composition mixed with mountain maple (Acer pleudoplatanus), ash (Fraxinus excelsior), willow (Salix spec.), aspen (Populus tremula), hornbeam (Carpinus betulus), birch (Betula pendula), silver fir (Abies alba) and Norway spruce (Picea abies) developed. The predominant forest type “Mountain beech forest on skeletal soils with mull flora” (according to Doniţă et al. 2005) fits into habitat type 91V0 Dacian beech forest (Symphyto-Fagion) (Biriş et al. 2012). In the upper part, beech mixed with Norway spruce (Picea abies) and rarely with silver fir (Abies alba) building mountain beech forests with white wood-rush (Luzula luzuloides), rocky mountain beech forests, mountain beech forests with Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) and beech-spruce forests with Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus). These forest types (according to Doniţa et al. 2005) fit into EU-Habitats Directive´s habitat type 9110, Luzulo-Fagetum beech forest. The scrubs layer is represented amongst others by hazelnut tree (Corylus avellana), cornel tree (Cornus mas) and lilac (Syringa vulgaris) (Biriş et al. 2012).

The forests of the Iauna Craiovei component part are pure mountain beech forests and mixed beech- silver fir (Abies alba) in upper regions. All the forests occurring at the proposed component belong fully to the EU-Habitats Directive´s habitat type 91V0 - Dacian beech forest (Symphyto-Fagion). (Biriş et al. 2012).

In Ciucevele Cernei and Iauna Craiovei proposed component parts, due to favourable climate conditions beech grows up at higher altitudes and forms the timberline at around 1800 m.a.s.l., where it meets the subalpine  shrub communities. (Biriş et al. 2012).

In Domogled - Coronini – Bedina component part, the right slope is entirely covered by beech forests belonging to the habitat types  Luzulo-Fgetum beech forests (9110) and Asperulo-Fagetum beech forests (9130), of which small rocky areas emerge, and the left slope is covered by forest belonging to Medio-European limestone beech forest of the Cephalanterion-Fagion (9150) according to the EU- Habitats Directive. On a small area, along the calcareous ridges and cliffs, we can find also  Tilio-Acerion forests of slopes, screes and ravines (9180*), (Sub-)Mediterranean pine forests with endemic black Pines (9530*),  rocky slopes with chasmophytic vegetation (8210), screes (8160*), caves (8310) and low deciduous scrubs with continental and sub-mediterranean afinities  (40A0*) that host a large number of endemic species of flora and fauna.

Cozia: Masivul Cozia and Lotrișor

Location, geography and land-use. The proposed component is located in the Meridional Carpathians in Romania. It consists of two component parts (Cozia and Lotrişor) covering Cozia and Narăţul Doabra massifs that are separated by Olt river. The component parts lie entirely in the Cozia National Park. The area is completely covered by forest of which small rocky areas emerge. There are few patches of scrub and grassland communities. The area is connected to huge mountain areas covered by forests.

Cozia Massif can be seen as an isolated "horst" rising almost concentrically and culminating with its higher crests groups characterized by sharp edges and steep hills and thus difficult to access. The Cozia Massif and Narăţul Doabra Mountain show a strong asymmetry between northern slopes, being steep, and the southern slopes, being more oblong and with soft flanks.  (Biriş et al. 2012).

Altitude and relief.  The altitude of Masivul Cozia component part ranges between 310 and 1640 m.a.s.l. and of Lotrișor between 300 m and 1500 m a.s.l.  (Biriş et al. 2012). Characteristic of the gneiss mountains of Cozia, are their steep slopes with 50° - 70° inclination, not allowing deep soil formation. But we can also find sedimentary formations, within the southern part of the site. The eastern part of the massif differs by morphology and vegetation to the western slope. The rocky parts of the western slope are evenly covered by forests, while the eastern slopes are characterized by rocky walls and towers without vegetation and narrow and grassy shingles (Biriş et al. 2012).

Climate. The climate of the Cozia area is formed by its special location protected from excessive rainfall and cold currents by the high Făgăraş Mountains in the North, and influenced by warm submediterranean currents from the South passing through the Olt valley (Biriş et al. 2012). Thus a specific micro-climate characterizes the region by moderate temperatures and rainfall. The specific location results in an annual average temperature of 3.3 °C recorded in the high areas of the massif and 10 °C in the Olt valley; in this way showing higher temperatures than the rest of the Southern Carpathians (Biriş et al. 2012). The thermal amplitude in Cozia Massif is not big: -19.7 ° C, which denotes moderate heat. In the highest areas of the Cozia massif the annual average precipitation is about 1015 mm/year, in lower altitudes, e.g. in the Defileul Oltului, around 700 mm/year. During the year the precipitation regime is balanced; the months with the highest precipitation area are May, June and July. Drought periods as well as torrential rains are rather unusual (Biriş et al. 2012).  

Geology, Soils and Hydrology. From a geological point of view, the site area is characterized by crystalline formations of gneiss in the central and northern part and by sedimentary formations located in the southern area. This results in (partly rocky) strips in the topography with general orientation from West to East on both sides of Olt river.

The highest parts of the mountains are covered by podzols turning into eutric cambisols with lower altitudes (Biriş et al. 2012). 

The Cozia Massif is part of the hydrographic basin of the Olt river that divides the component. All rivers within the Cozia National Park drain directly or indirectly by tributaries into the Olt river.

The component is characterized by a dense water network with large amount of waters during spring season and a high probability of flooding at the end of the winter due to snow melting and during summer after a downpour rain (Biriş et al. 2012).

Vegetation and Forest. The forest types of the proposed component can be classified as mountain European beech forest and hilly European beech forest whose vegetation is composed by European beech stands (Fagus sylvatica) (by more than 90% of the stands composition) and further tree species such as sessile oak (Quercus petraea), common hornbeam (Carpinus betulus), silver fir (Abies alba) and birch (Betula pendula) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) (Biriş et al. 2012, Matrix 2014).

The following NATURA 2000 habitat types can be found (Biriş et al.  2012):

9110 Luzulo-Fagetum beech forest

9130 Asperulo – Fagetum beech forest

91V0 Dacian beech forest (Symphyto-Fagion)

9170 Galio – Carpinetum mixed forest of oak with common hornbeam type.

Codrul secular Șinca

The proposed component part Codrul secular Șinca is located in the central part of the country, in the Meridional Carpathinas, more exactly in the eastern part of Fagaras Massif, on the northern slopes of Taga Mountains. The component part covers exclusively forested areas and is located in a compact and very extended forest massif. The candidate part belongs entirely to the forest owned by Șinca commune and is administrated by Forest District Pădurile Șincii R.A.

Altitude and relief. These are mountains with moderate heights, relief with erosion platforms and glaciar forms,  crossed by deep valleys (e.g. Valea Strambisoara Mare, Paraul Negru). In terms of altitude, the candidate area is located between 780 and 1480 m. a.s.l. The closest peaks located in the sothern part of candidate area are: Muchia Lunga Peak (1481m), Capu Muntelui Peak (1326 m) and Faget Peak (1413 m),  and the most important peak is Țaga Peak (1600 m).

The land configuration is undulated. The area is mostly located on slopes, most of them showing great relief energy (> 80% of the territory has an inclination over 31 degrees).The general aspect of the slopes is generally Nordic being situated on the northern side of Țaga Mountains, and the local one is determined by the floating direction of valleys. Due to the rich hydrographic net, the detail aspects  are varied but the shady aspects are dominant.

Climate. In terms of climate the territory overlap general laws but also local that generate o series of proper characteristics. The geographical position (in the highest mountains of the Southern Carpathians, right in the centre of the country), microdepressions, the varied physiognomy of relief have a sensitive influence on climatic conditions. Altitude is one of the factors that significantly influences the variation of climatic elements, reflecting the vertical disposure so well expressed in the temperature evolution and in precipitations which on their turn are reflected in soil and vegetation.

The thermic regime is characterized by an annual average of about 4,5 o C. The coldest month is January (-8,8 C), whereas the warmers is July (+14,5 C), with an annual amplitude of 23,3 C. The annual average quantity of precipitations is around 1100 mm, with a maximum in June (around 150 mm) and a minimum in September/ February. At the end of autumn and beginning of winter, when the temperature goes below 0 C, the precipitations fall more frequent in snow form, so that the snow has a continous layer starting with the end of september /beginning of  october and last for around 190 days.

Geology, Soils and Hydrology. From geological point of view the candidate part is of miocene age and characterized by crystaline mezo-morphic schists from Fagaras series. 

The identificated types of soil are a result of pedogenetic factors, i.e. geologic substratum, geomorphology, microrelief, local climatic factors and biocoenosis. The types of soil are: eutric cambisol (85 %), distric cambisol (10%), and  podsol (5%).

In terms of hydrology, the component part is situated in Olt river basin, the middle basin, in the so called Fagaras Country, and so the entire hydrographic net is tributary to it.

At the site scale, the component part is crossed by two valleys - Strâmbșoara Mare and Pârâul Negru - who are tributary to V. Strâmba (II) and further to Șercaia river, and finally to Olt river at his turn.

The highest average monthly run-off takes place in April and May due to snow melting from the upper part of mountains. The valleys have a constant run-off all year round with slight decreases in dry periods. The river beds are on crystalline schists and the mountain slopes are well protected by forestry vegetation, so the streams do not carry high sediment load from erosion.

Vegetation and Forest. The forests of the Codrul secular Șinca component part are mixed beech- silver fir (Abies alba) and belong fully to the EU-Habitats Directive´s habitat type 91V0 - Dacian beech forest (Symphyto-Fagion). (Biriş et al. 2012). In the tree layer, beside the beech (Fagus sylvatica) and silver-fir (Abies alba), also grow individuals of  Picea abies (spruce), Acer pseudoplatanus (sycamore) and Ulmus glabra elm). The scrubs layer is represented amongst others by Rubus sp., elder (Sambucus nigra), bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), and dog-rose (Rosa canina).

Stands have  an uneven-aged structure with high degree of naturalness. It is important to note the high frequency of trees of  ages above 350-400 (500) years old for beech and 400-500 for silver-fir trees, until the limit of physiological longevity when they are drying on foot. Here was measured the tallest silver fir tree in Romania– 62.5 m – and the tallest beech tree from Europe– 55,1m (Roibu et al., 2013).

Codrul secular Slătioara

Location, geography and land-use. The proposed component part is located in the Northern part of the Romanian Carpathians, in Suceava region, commune Stulpicani. It belongs to the basin of the Moldova River and is part of Rarău-Giumalău Mountains (eastern slope of Rarău Masif). The component part comprises a forest area belonging by the forest reserve Codrul secular Slătioara and at its upper end, the Fânețele montane Todirescu, a protected alpine grassland.

Altitude and relief. The elevation range of Slătioara is between 790 m and 1353 m a.s.l. The area spans three large, parallel edges: Bâtca Neagră, Bâtca cu Plai, Bâtca Lesei, separated by deep - sometimes steep - valleys.

Climate. The region is characterized by its temperate transitional continental climate with excessively continental shades in the Rarău-Giumalău Mountains. The winters are long and full of snow, summers are short, cool and wet. Between 790 m and 1200 m a.s.l., the mean annual temperature varies between 5.8oC and 3.9oC, and the rainfall between 700 mm and 810 mm. The region is experiencing influences of cold air masses from the Baltic origin, but also of western Atlantic air masses, which are particularly felt during the summer. In winter there are also influences from continental (eastern) and polar (northern) air masses. Most days with clear sky are in the fall. The spring is characterized by the highest degree of weather instability (changeable in a short time) (Oancea & Swizewski, 1983; Seghedin, 1983).

Geology, Soils and Hydrology. The geological structure of Rarău Mountains is represented by a huge basin that consists of crystalline schists. In this trough, thick stacks of sedimentary rocks, mainly sandstones, conglomerates and limestone accumulated along the geological time (Oancea & Swizewski, 1983). The territory of Slătioara belongs to the Mesozoic marginal cuvette that has the largest dimensions in the lower part of the basin. It is obvious the predominance of Aptian limestones and dolomites of the so-called Klippe that appear as uninterrupted dams downstream and upstream of the gorge. However, the lithological substrate also consists of sericite-chlorite crystalline schists, amphibolites, mica-schists and sandstones.

In Slătioara are present the rivulets Văiuga, Ion Valley, Bear Valley and Ciurgău Valley, which then unite in pairs, creating Slătioara river flowing into Gemenea, a tributary of Suha, that confluence with Moldova to Frasin city.

Vegetation and Forest. The main forest types are represented by mixed beech – Norway spruce – Silver fir stands and spruce forests, mainly with Oxalis acetosella. According to existing information, the site has a higher naturalness, characterized by the presence of large amounts of deadwoods, old trees of large sizes (e.g. individuals of Silver fir over 50 m height), and a higher structural heterogeneity and diversity. This looks to be the best preserved beech and mixed forest in the north of the Carpathian Mountains.

More than 900 plant species were found (Seghedin, 1983), of which 451 are Bryophytes (hornworts, liverworts and mosses) and 94 are lichens (Cladonia, Parmelia, Usnea, Peltigera etc.). There are also nature monuments and rarities (protected species): Cypripedium calceolus that grows on limestone cliffs of the reserve, Daphne cneorum, Hieracium racemosum ssp. pojorîtense, Hildenbrandtia rivularis - freshwater red algae on wet rocks in valleys, and Taxus baccata.

Also, were found several new species for science: Prozercon tragardhisimilis (Solomon, 1982), Zercon aniellae (Solomon, 1982), Zercon blaszaki (Solomon, 1984) and Zercon sylvii (Solomon, 1984) or at least for Romanian fauna like Cydia duplicana (Zetterstedt 1839) syn. C. interruptana Herrich-Schäffer 1851, Thera britannica (Turner 1925) syn. T. albonigrata Gornik 1942, Colostygia laetaria (de La Harpe 1853), Endothenia ustulana (Haworth 1811) syn. E. carbonana Doubleday 1849 and Pammene ochsenheimeriana (Lienig & Zeller 1846). Here, rare insect species were also found like: Exochus albicinctus Holmgren 1873, E. incidens Thomson 1887, E. lentipes Gravenhorst 1829, E. tibialis Holmgren 1858, Aptesis assimilis Gravenhorst, 1829, Anisotacrus bipunctatus Gravenhorst 1829, Euryproctus alpinus Holmgren 1857, E. arbustorum Holmgren 1856, E. plantator Thunberg 1822, E. regenerator Fabricius 1804 (Constantineanu, 1983; Constantineanu et al., 2003, 2006).

Groșii Țibleșului: Izvorul Șurii and Preluci

Location, geography and land-use. The component parts are located in the Oriental Carpathians of Northern Romania within the southern of Maramureş region. They lie in the upper basin of the Lăpuş River and are part of the volcanic mountain range Oaș-Gutâi-Țibleș (Biriş 2012).

The component Groşii Țibleşului consists of the two component parts, Izvorul Șurii and Preluci, separated by forested areas mainly treated with regeneration cuts recently.

Altitude and relief. The altitude of Izvorul Șurii ranges between 1050 and 1450 m.a.s.l. and of Preluci between 980 m and 1100 m a.s.l. The highest elevations of the region show an EW direction.  Secondary peaks under the shaping of the hydrographic network of the main ridge are generally oriented NS separated by valleys from each other showing slopes with waved structures.

A major part of the site shows an inclination of the terrain between 31 and 40°. The slopes have a direct influence on soil depth. Depth increases from the peak to the valley due to washing and transport of material from the upper slopes and its sedimentation at the bottom (Biriş et al. 2012).

The site is generally oriented towards the south, with some smaller areas with exposures towards west, and very few towards east and north (Biriş et al. 2012).

Climate. The climate of the region is typical for mountainous areas, favourable for the development of forest vegetation characterized by harsh winters, cool summers and adequate rainfall throughout the year. It shows an annual average in temperature of 6.5°C °C (annual average temperatures ranges between 7.5 – 5.5 °C)  and an annual precipitation average of 1100-1400 mm (Biriş et al. 2012).

Geology, Soils and Hydrology. From a geological point of view, the substratum at the site is of Neogene volcanic origin causing the development of generally acidic soils. The surface takes the form of domes or columns separated by patches or strips of sedimentary deposits. Lava flows and pyroclastic products occur less frequently being removed through erosion by water (Biriş et al. 2012).

The major area of the site is characterized by dystric cambisols, while a small part consists of prepodzol. In some places, at the basis of slopes, in depression areas with permanent excess to moisture due to groundwater exiting to the surface, organic peat soils have evolved  (Biriş et al. 2012).

The hydrographic network caused increased fragmentation of the landscape and the appearance of a mosaic of physical conditions over time. Main water collector of component is Ţibleş brook, favouring especially in the lower parts the formation of convection fog in spring and summer (Biriş et al. 2012). The springs and brooks of the site are characterized by a permanent drainage system. The hydrological regime is characterized by percolation, groundwater affecting only rarely the forest vegetation (Biriş et al. 2012).

Vegetation and Forest. The site encompasses a great majority of primary forest ecosystem structures that are extremely complex and in a state of dynamic equilibrium with minimal anthropogenic influences. The present ecosystems are samples of natural habitats available in the region, of special conservation value, being unique in the north of the Carpathian Mountains, through their complex, multi-year with multi-secular elements that reach the physiological age limit evolved  (Biriş et al. 2012). The site harbours the Asperulo-Fagetum beech forests (9130) and, to a major part, Dacian beech forests (Symphyto-Fagion) (91V0) of the European Habitats Directive (Biriş et al. 2012). About 70% of the forest stands are composed by beech with more than 140 years old reaching ages up to 180 years (Biriş et al. 2012).

Strâmbu Băiuț 

Location, geography and land-use. The component part is situated in the Oriental Carpathians of northern Romania, in the south of Maramureş region. The area lies in the upper basin of the Lăpuș River in the volcanic mountains together with the component part of Groşii Țibleşului

The relief is mountainous; the land is formed mainly by volcanic mountains intensely eroded (Biriş et al. 2012).

Altitude and relief. The altitude ranges between 700 and 1270 m.a.s.l. More than 65% of the site shows an inclination between 31 and 40°. The slopes have a direct influence on soil depth.

Climate. The climate is characterised by an annual average temperatures between 7.5 – 5.5 °C, with an annual average of 6.5°C and an annual precipitation average of 1100-1400 mm (Biriş et al. 2012).

Geology, Soils and Hydrology. Most surfaces are formed on the Paleogen flysh, with eruptive breakdowns and Neogene deposits (Oligocene and Miocene). The main bedrocks are eruptive, (andezites) and sedimentary (marno-clay schists, sand stones and silica conglomerates). A smaller part of the site is constituted of paelogenic sediments (with little eruptive rocks), formed of gritstones, marls and clays (Biriş et al. 2012).

More than 85% of the soils at the site are dystric cambisols, followed by 10% of prepodzol and very small areas covered by Euthric cambisols and Gley (Biriş et al. 2012).

The territory is situated in the upper basin of Lapus river. The hydrologic regime is constant and water flows are pretty regular.

Vegetation and Forest. The majority of the forest stands at the site show primary forest structures with minimal anthropogenic influences. The present ecosystems represent especially valuable samples of natural habitats existing in the region and being unique in the Carpathian Mountain area, through the complex, age-heterogenous structures, with multi-century elements that reach the physiological age limit (Biriş et al. 2012).

The forest ecosystems of the site are very valuable also because of their great typological and compositional diversity, showing a natural mix of species with predominantly beech (Fagus sylvatica), fir (Abies alba), spruce (Picea abies) and sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) together with ash (Fraxinus excelsior), elm (Ulmus glabra), maple (Acer platanoides) and the pioneer species silver birch (Betula pendula), goat willow (Salix caprea), trembling poplar (Populus tremula).

The forests cover the habitat types Dacian beech forests (Symphyto-Fagion) (91V0) with 87%,  Asperulo-Fagetum beech forests (9130) with 10% and Tilio-Acerion forests of slopes, screes and ravines (9180*) according to the EU- Habitats Directive.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The “Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany” (the title of a finite European nomination will be decided at a later stage of the process) are indispensable to understanding 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 European Beech Forest Regions. They comprise all altitudinal zones from the coast up to the forest line in the mountains and further 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 after 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 the 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 anthropogenic climate change. Both historical and present serial patterns of distribution represent natural evolutionary strategies for adapting and surviving environmental change. The dominance by Beech across extensive areas of Europe is testament to the tree’s genetic adaptability.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The selected Beech forest sites not only represent the full serial diversity found across Europe but are also of sufficient size to maintain the natural processes necessary for the long-term ecological viability of the wider ecosystem. Buffer zones including surrounding protected areas (nature parks, biosphere reserves) will be managed sympathetically to ensure the long-term conservation of the particular character of the designated Beech forest together with its inherent attributes. Other than the extent of forest area and presence of an effective buffer zone key characteristics used in the site selection process included the average age of forest stand and the period of lapse since it was last managed or actively disturbed. The evaluation criteria used in the selection process help 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 importance was given to connectivity between Beech forests and the surrounding complementary habitats as a perceived prerequisite for ecosystem functioning and adaptation to environmental change.

Izvoarele Nerei

The component part shows fully functional primeval beech forest ecosystem characteristics (Pichlerová et al. 2008). It is a large compact complex of continuous almost undisturbed and inaccessible beech forest area (4728.3 ha) lying in an area of extensive mountain forest dominated mostly by beech. The surroundings are to more than 80% covered by forest (400.000 ha), which are mostly managed (regeneration cuts, timber extraction).

The proposed part belongs to a cluster of close National Parks (Cheile Nerei – Beușnița National Park, Domogled – Valea Cernei National Park, Retezat National Park) and Natural Park (Iron Gates Natural Park) that also contains relevant beech forest areas.

The vertical structure is very complex for a beech forest and, generally, for a monospecific forest ecosystem (dominated by a single species) showing the maximum suitability of the ecological conditions for beech. The dominant trees can reach over 50 m in height within the most favourable sites (around 1000 m altitude); the measurements have recorded around 2-5 specimens per hectare that have a total height above 50 m, and the maximum height measured has been of 52 m (Biriş et al. 2012).

Being a virgin forest, the natural cycles are undisturbed, which explains the large number of fungi species present (Turcu 2008). The component covers a wide elevation range stretching over 800m (Turcu 2012).

Cheile Nerei-Beușnița

The component part (4294.2 ha) overlap the Scientific Reserve “Cheile Nerei-Beușnița” which is included into a widely forested national park that touches other national parks covered by beech forests, allowing a large scale natural dynamics and evolution processes.

Domogled - Valea Cernei: Domogled - Coronini – Bedina, Iauna Craiovei and Ciucevele Cernei

The Domogled-Valea Cernei cluster is a large complex of beech forests (over 10,300 ha) consisting of three component parts - Ciucevele Cernei (1650.9 ha), Iauna Craiovei (3517.6 ha) and Domogled - Coronini – Bedina (5153.2 ha) – that are connected by a continuous forest cover and are enveloped in a common buffer zone.

The forest stands of all three proposed components are characterized by a high degree of naturalness occurring in a landscape covered up to 80 % by forests predominantly formed of  beech. In many parts of the Cerna valley the forests are used quite little, due to the low forest road density resulting of the steep slopes and rocky terrain. This landscape is connected to other areas with large coherent beech forests with a high degree of naturalness. The proposed component parts belong to the Domogled-Valea Cernei National Park, being included in its special conservation area.

Cozia: Masivul Cozia and Lotrișor

The Cozia cluster consists of two component parts – Masivul Cozia (2280.0 ha) and Lotrișor (1126.0 ha) -, separated by Olt river, that are connected by a buffer zone. The component parts preserve a large intact forest complex surrounded by forested areas. The size of the area allows the complete array of natural processes and dynamics to happen, until now mostly undisturbed. The proposed component parts belong to the Cozia National Park, being included in its special conservation area. There are obvious signs of growing forest use in some private forests directly bordering the buffer area, showing that pressure on the natural forest resources is growing although being a national park.

Codrul secular Șinca

The component part (338.1ha) consists in a primeval mixed beech-silver fir forest strictly protected through the forest management plan, by including the candidate area in the functional category 1.5j, in accordance with the Ministerial Order no. 3397/2012 for the protection of virgin forests. It is a remnant of undisturbed forest surrounded by a large and compact forest massif of pure and mixed beech forests mostly managed.

Codrul secular Slătioara

The component part has an area of 609.8ha and is the most well-preserved primeval mixed beech forests in the Oriental Carpathians of Romania. It has been protected since the first years of the 20th century through the forest management plans and in 1934 it was established as a strict forest reserve. 

Groșii Țibleșului: Izvorul Șurii and Preluci

The Groșii Țibleșului (346.3ha) is cluster of two component parts - Izvorul Șurii (210.5ha) and Preluci (135.8ha) – that are connected by a continuous forest cover and are enveloped in a common buffer zone. The component parts comprise primeval pure beech and mixed beech-silver fir- spruce forests strictly protected through the forest management plan, by including the candidate areas in the functional category 1.5j, in accordance with the Ministerial Order no. 3397/2012 for the protection of virgin forests. All the local stakeholders and the National Forest Administration – Romsilva agreed with the strictly protection regime for these component parts.

Strâmbu Băiuț 

The component part (630.0ha) consists in primeval pure beech and mixed beech-silver fir forest strictly protected through the forest management plan, by including the area in the functional category 1.5j, in accordance with the Ministerial Order no. 3397/2012 for the protection of virgin forests. All the local stakeholders and the National Forest Administration – Romsilva agreed with the strictly protection regime for the component part.

Justification of the selection of the component part(s) in relation to the future nomination as a whole

In the selection process of suitable primeval and ancient Beech forests in Europe, a classification system defining Beech Forest Regions (BFR) in Europe has been developed. Each BFR is characterised by its specific climatic and floristic situation and showing an individual history of postglacial Beech forest development differing in time of first Beech arrival and the different genetic ecotypes of Beech, as Beech was re-colonising Europe after the last ice-age from different refuge areas.

It is considered that a finite serial transnational European nomination will include candidates from all BFR. Therefore, the best suitable Beech forest sites in each BFR have been selected to represent the different ecotypes and postglacial development processes in a most representative way. Each component part within one BFR brings specific aspects and significantly adds additional value to the series as a whole. These specific aspects are shown in the following: 

Izvoarele Nerei    

The components in the Southern Carpathians represent a quite late expansion of the beech species colonizing the Carpathian arch, according to D. Magri et al. 2006, most probably from the Northwest. Isozyme analyses by D. Magri et al. 2006 show a similarity to Central European beech, but not to Balcanic beech. In spite of the late beech expansion to the Southern Carpathian areas, in the nominated component of Izvoarele Nerei beech developed, remaining until today, a complete dominance over other tree species.

The component is one jewel of the string of pearls consisting of well-conserved old-growth beech forests in the Carpathians. As the Carpathian beech forest region harbors the massiest occurrence of beech forests in Europe and is thus often called the motherland of the beech tree, this beech forest region with its outstanding jewels deserves adequate representation in the serial World Heritage Site.

The component is representative for the large contiguous and functional beech forest areas in the Carpathians being in direct contact with the next pearl within the Cheile Nerei – Beuşniţa National Park and in the neighborhood of the Domogled – Valea Cernei National Park. The component is essential to represent the full array of ecological processes of large-scale, intact ecosystems, where evolution as an ongoing process can occur and an adaptation capacity to climate change can evolve. The component is also essential as it is an important part of one of the few remaining functional beech forest corridors for beech forest fauna.

Izvoarele Nerei component part is a large pure beech forest (almost exclusively beech trees), consisting in very old beech stands, of high degree of naturalness, located in very favourable environmental conditions for beech, which allow impressive stand characteristics (standing and laying wood volume, tree height, tree diameter, tree longevity, complex vertical and horizontal stand structures), surrounded by a very large beech forest area (over 400 000 ha).

Cheile Nerei-Beușnița

The component part represents old growth beech forests of the Southern Carpathians with a high degree of naturalness occurring on limestone bedrock.

It is one of the Carpathian beech forest region pearls, as it comprises large scale undisturbed highly diverse beech forests, representing one of the richest areas in biodiversity in Europe.

The component part represents an important pearl of the Carpathian beech forest region for investigating the adaptation of beech to a warmer climate, as it is highly diverse, in an already quite warm climate, on (rocky) limestone and a medium amount of precipitation.

Cheile Nerei-Beușnița component part is a large area of pure and mixed beech forests with various broadleaves such as pedunculate oak, sessile oak, Turkey oak, hornbeam, Eastern hornbeam, manna ash, European ash, Turkish hazel, with a high degree of naturalness. The diversity of habitats/environmental conditions (geology - limestone and dolomitic limestone, with silica and marl lentils, crystalline schists, silicone marbles, sands and gravel; relief - rocky bedrock, slopes, karst plateaus, caves, gorges) and the influence from different BRFs (located at crossroads of the Carpathian, Pannonic, Illyric and Moesian influences) are generating a high diversity of forest types and a high number of endemic and relict species of flora and fauna. This area comprises the richest species beech communities in the Carpathian BFR.

Domogled - Valea Cernei: Domogled - Coronini – Bedina, Iauna Craiovei and Ciucevele Cernei

In Ciucevele Cernei a complex landscape ranges between 775 and 1620 m.a.s.l., in Iauna Craiovei even between  400 and 1560 m.a.s.l., where the beech comes closer to its upper limit of distribution. At an altitude about 1550-1600 m.a.s.l., beech meets the scrub communities thus forming the timberline (Biriş et al. 2012). In Domogled limestone massif, the beech forest is in direct contact with the Banat black pine stands (Pinus nigra spp. Banatica), and with other xerothermophilous deciduous shrub and forest communities. Domogled- Coronini-Bedina is unique within the whole beech natural distribution range by direct contact of beech forest with Banat black pine forest in the same area.

These three component parts enveloped in Domogled-Valea Cernei cluster cover an amplitudinal altitude of beech forest of approx. 1500 m,  on a distance of below 70 km along Cerna Valey, starting with  its sources (Ciucevele Cernei, 1620 m.a.s.l. ) and close to its confluence with Belareca River (Domogled - Coronini – Bedina, about 160 m.a.s.l.).

These three component parts comprise a large area of pure and mixed beech forests (beech-fir, beech-spruce, beech-fir-spruce, beech-Banat black pine), with a high degree of naturalness. Forest habitats are in complex mosaics with termophilous scrubs vegetation on rocky slopes and subalpine scrubs formations in the upper areas. A very large altitudinal gradient, ranging from 400 to 1600 meters a.s.l., makes possible the existence of a  large variety of  beech forest types, from submontane pure beech forests to subalpine pure and mixed beech-silver fir-Norway spruce forests, at the upper limit of forests, in direct contact with subalpine scrub and grassland communities. These forests are also interesting in terms of climatic changes resulting in the movement of beech forests to higher altitudes. The component parts represent on-going ecological processes (Glacial refuge area, post-glacial beech forest expansion in Europe).

Cozia: Masivul Cozia and Lotrișor

The component areas show a high diversity of site conditions and geo-morphological characteristics being the basis for the diversity of occurring habitats and landscape features.

Different beech forest communities - pure and mixed beech forests (both with coniferous and broadleaves), with high degree of naturalness, cover over 95 % of the area, starting from submontane layer until the high montane layer. The component area contributes a large-scale jewel of old-growth beech forests in the Carpathian beech forest region, differing from many others due to its particular environmental conditions - gneissic bedrock, high variation of topography in the area, large altitudinal gradient (300-1600 m. a.s.l.), rocky slopes, climatic peculiarities - warmer climate than the rest of the Southern Carpathians due to the protection from the North by excessive rainfall and cold air currents through Făgăraș Mountains)  - and supporting a special tree species composition (e.g. highest sessile oak stands up to 1300 m a.s.l., mixed beech-Scots pine stands, acidophilous beech forests).

Codrul secular Șinca

The component part is a primeval mixed beech-silver fir forest, with an uneven-aged structure, with high degree of naturalness, located in very favourable site conditions for beech and silver-fir trees, aspects that make these stands unique in terms of biometrics. It is important to note the high frequency of trees of  ages above 350-400 (500) years old for beech and 400-500 for silver-fir trees, until the limit of physiological longevity when they are drying on foot. Here was measured the tallest silver fir tree in Romania– 62.5 m – and the tallest beech tree from Europe– 55,1m (Roibu et al., 2013). Regarding the volume, it was measured the highest volume stock 1170 m3ha-1 and the biggest growing stock (living trees and dead wood) at 1588m3 ha-1.

Codrul secular Slătioara

The component part is a primeval mixed beech-Silver fir-spruce forest, located on the Eastern slope of Rarău Mountains, on limestone and calcareous conglomerates bedrocks, encompassing an altitudinal gradient between 790-1400 m. The forest was not affected by cuttings, as documented by the historical archive of forest management plans. The stand structure presents a higher heterogeneity and includes higher quantities of deadwood (both standing and lying, and also large individual pieces) in different stages of decay. As an example of species diversities, 108 species of Hepaticae and 343 species of Musci were mentioned in ‘40. It includes also, at its upper end, the Fânețele montane Todirescu, protected alpine grassland. This forest reserve is considered the best preserved and most important forest reserve from the North of Romanian Eastern Carpathians.

Groșii Țibleșului: Izvorul Șurii și Preluci

Both component parts represent important well preserved stepping stones for the beech expansion over the Carpathian arch from north to south after the last ice age. It is an important connection to the components of the Ukrainian Carpathians. It comprises primeval pure beech and mixed beech-spruce-fir communities with scattered small depression areas of oligotrophic swamps and bogs, unique in the north of Romanian Carpathians, close to the frontier with Ukraine. Stands have complex structures, high degree of naturalness, with exemplars of exceptional dimensions and ages, very stable, in a status of dynamic equilibrium, located on acid soils (districambosols) developed on bedrock of neogene volcanic origin (andesitic rocks with pyroxene).

Strâmbu Băiuț 

This component part together with the component part of Groşii Țibleşului belong to a cluster situated in the north of Oriental Carpathians, being a stepping stone for beech expansion over the Carpathian arch after last ice age. This cluster is very important for the connection of the component parts from Southern Carpathians with the components of the Ukrainian Carpathians.

Strâmbu Băiuț  comprises the most well-preserved and remarkable for stand characteristics (standing and laying wood volume, tree height, tree diameter, tree longevity, complex vertical and horizontal stand structures) pure beech and mixed beech - silver fir stands from the entire range of Oriental Carpathians.

Comparison with other similar properties

The occurrence of deciduous forests with trees from the genius Fagus is limited to the Holarctic of Earth’s northern hemisphere. They are found throughout the nemoral zones for climatic reasons and are limited to certain conditions. The genus of beech (Fagus) is a typical element of deciduous forests. It comprises of 14 species that exist under humid climate conditions in the three major Holarctic regions of deciduous forest: in the east of North America, in Europe/West Asia, and in East Asia. It’s counterpart in the southern hemisphere is the cognate Nothofagus genus (Fagaceae) native to the Neotropical, Australian and Antarctic floristic realm. Forests with Nothofagus are already represented in World Heritage Sites of Los Glaciares National Park (Argentine), Lorentz National Park (Indonesia) and Gondwana Rainforest of Australia. Forests with trees from genus Fagus are found outside of Europe in the World Heritage sites of Shirakami-Sanchi (Japan).

In Europe beech forests are represented (beside the existing site of “Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany”, which is concern of this extension) in the World Heritage site of Plitvice Lakes National Park (Croatia), Durmitor National Park (Montenegro) and Pirin National Park (Bulgaria). In the National Park of Plitvice Lakes, the outstanding universal value chosen is the lake-system built by travertine barriers (criterion vii, viii and x). The Dumitor National Park was nominated for the outstanding Canyon (criterion vii, viii and ix). In Pirin National Park the outstanding universal value is the natural coniferous forest and its functioning ecosystem as well as the glacial geomorphology of the region (criterion vii, viii and ix). In all three sites, beech forests are covered, but they are not core part of the nomination. The Plitvice Lakes National Park includes the Corkova uvala primeval forest, compost of beech, silver fir and spruce forest. This forest is of high scientific and natural value. The proposed new sites are more important for representation of on-going ecological processes, climatic adaptation of Fagus sylvatica and diversity of site conditions and geo-morphological characteristics of beech forest communities. They meet the sufficient size of minimum 100 ha needed to ensure integrity of the site, while Corkova Uvala primeval forest within Plitvice Lakes National Park has a size of 75 ha. Therefore, values of this primeval forest will be additionally emphasised in the future management of the existing world heritage site and presented as complementary to the Ancient Beech Forests serial site.

All in all this extension is of crucial importance for the long term conservation of European beech ecosystems. The size of the component parts as well as their spatial distribution cover a variety of environmental conditions and the genetic diversity of beech. No other already existing World Heritage Site unites these features, which makes the extension to a unique project in terms of conservation of the ancient beech forests of Europe.