The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Documents WHC/17/41.COM/8B and WHC/17/41.COM/INF.8B2,
- 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);
- Takes note of the following provisional Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:
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.
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.
- 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;
- Thanks the States Parties for their cooperation in developing this nomination;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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.