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Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe - extension (Montenegro)

Date of Submission: 31/01/2019
Criteria: (ix)
Category: Natural
Submitted by:
National Commission of Montenegro for UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
Northern Montenegro, Municipalities of Mojkovac and Kolašin
Ref.: 6373
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The Tentative Lists of States Parties are published by the World Heritage Centre at its website and/or in working documents in order to ensure transparency, access to information and to facilitate harmonization of Tentative Lists at regional and thematic levels.

The sole responsibility for the content of each Tentative List lies with the State Party concerned. The publication of the Tentative Lists does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever of the World Heritage Committee or of the World Heritage Centre or of the Secretariat of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its boundaries.

Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party


The future nomination, which is subject of this Tentative List entry, represents an extension to the existing World Heritage property of the “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, 1133ter). This property was inscribed by the World Heritage Committee first in 2007 as “Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians”, extended once in 2011 by the “Ancient Beech Forests of Germany” and extended another time in 2017 by the “Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe” to the present transnational site.

The future extension corresponds to the decision 41 COM 8B.7, where future extensions toward a finite series are noted. With this extension 37 component parts in 10 European States Parties add new values to displaying the history and evolution of the European Beech.

Together with the already inscribed component parts in 12 European States Parties the component parts of this extension will represent an outstanding example of relatively undisturbed, complex temperate forests and exhibit a wide spectrum of 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, which are associated with and dependent on these forest habitats.

Name(s) of the component part(s)

Virgin Forest Reserve in NP Biogradska Gora E19 36 45,115 N42 53 34,01

Description of the component part(s)

Virgin Forest Reserve is a part of National Park Biogradska Gora, located in the central part of the mountain massif of Bjelasica. Total area of NP Biogradska Gora is 5650 ha, and the surface of the Reserve is 2400 ha. The Reserve in Biogradska Gora is the first designated protected area in Montenegro, since its proclamation of designation 140 years ago.  

Virgin Forest Reserve is characterized by the large number of complex ecosystems, with high degree of refugial features of habitats as well as a considerable number of endemic and rare plant and animal species, that all represent extraordinary values of the Virgin Forest Reserve of National Park Biogradska Gora. It is the area which represents an ecological entity characterized by spontaneous development of well-conserved autochthonous representative primeval beech vegetation, and with a high number of exceptional beech specimens of trees up to 200 years old.

The most important forest types of pure or mixed beech vegetation in the Reserve are:

  1. Beech and mountain maple (Fageto-Aceretum visianii)
  2. Beech and nuts (Asyneumo-Fagetum moesiacae)
  3. Fir and beech (Abieto-Fagetum moesiaceae)
  4. Beech and Elymus sp. that connects beech with fir forests (Elymo-Fagetum moesiacae)
  5. Seslerio-Fagetum moesiaceae.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

Criterion (ix): The property is indispensable for the understanding of 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 largely undisturbed, complex temperate forests exhibit comprehensive ecological patterns and processes of pure and mixed stands of European beech across a variety of environmental gradients, such as climatic and geological conditions, throughout much of the European beech forest range. Forests are included from all altitudinal zones from the coast up to the forest line in the mountains and, furthermore, include the best remaining examples from the range limits of the European beech forest. Beech is one of the most important features 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. The dominance of beech across extensive areas of Europe is a living testimony of the tree’s genetic adaptability, a process which is still ongoing.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The selected component parts represent the diversity found across Europe in terms of different climatic and geological conditions and altitudinal zones. Inclusion of these components representing the variability of European beech forest ecosystems across these different environmental conditions contributes to the integrity of the property as a whole in terms of the full representation of the ecological processes that convey the OUV of the property. However, each component part also needs to demonstrate integrity at the local level by representing the full suite of natural forest development processes in its particular geographical and ecological setting within the series. All component parts are of sufficient size (> 50 ha) to maintain such natural processes necessary for their long-term ecological viability.

All component parts have buffer zones of various configurations including surrounding protected areas (national parks, nature parks, biosphere reserves and others). These buffer zones will be regularly reviewed to ensure protection under changing environmental conditions such as climate change. The boundaries of buffer zones are, where possible, aligned with existing protected area boundaries. Special emphasis was given during the zonation of the new component parts to ensure effective ecological connectivity between beech forests and the surrounding complementary habitats to allow natural development and adaptation to environmental change.

While the history of distribution and expansion of beech across Europe demonstrates an outstanding example of the re-colonization and development of terrestrial ecosystems since the last Ice Age, more recent changes in the distribution pattern of beech across Europe relate to direct influences of human disturbance and the more complex effects of anthropogenically induced climate change. To effectively protect the components of the property from negative influence, a comprehensive analysis of threats has been undertaken.

Virgin Forest Reserve in National Park Biogradska Gora is one of the last European virgin forests. This is the most impressive part of the National Park, surfacing area of 2400 ha, where the strict protection system has been established 140 years ago. This Reserve represents a unique example of the evolution of different forest communities as a significant part of the genetic legacy of the Earth and important evidence of the specific history and evolution of the living and non-living world of the Tertiary, from Ice Age up to the present day.

Virgin Forest Reserve is characterized by different types of trees and shrub species (over 86) as well as the 16 forest communities, with representative participation of pure and mixed beech communities. The large number of complex ecosystems is present, with high degree of refugial features of habitats as well as a considerable number of endemic and rare plant and animal species, that all represent extraordinary values of Virgin Forest Reserve.

In total, beech forest occupies about 45% of the total area of ​​the National Park and 70% of the total area under forest vegetation.

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 characterized 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 exotypes 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:

The Moesian-Balkanic BFR comprises a great diversity of beech forest communities. It occurs in Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo*, southern Serbia, Macedonia and Bulgaria. The eastern beech forest is considered as transitional zone to the Eucinical BFR and includes an intermediate form between Fagus sylvatica and Fagus orientalis, which has been described as Fagus moesiaca (Panek, 2012).

Phytogeographic and ecological specificity of area of the Biogradska gora and Virgin Forest Reserve, surrounded by high carbonate mountains of Dinara mountain system is its silicate composition. In this regard, Biogradska gora represents a unique refugium of frigorifile flora that is characteristic for the northern regions of boreal and high-mountains area of silicate Alps and other European mountains. It gives significant contribution to the representative system of postglacial ecological and biological evolution of the beech (Fagus sylvatica) expansion.

* References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).

Comparison with other similar properties

The comparison with similar properties has already been provided in the nomination dossiers 1133 (2007), 1133bis (2011) and 1133ter (2016).