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Decision 44 COM 7B.99
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)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 42 COM 7B.71 and 43 COM 7B.13, adopted at its 42nd (Manama, 2018) and 43rd (Baku, 2019) sessions respectively,
  3. Takes note of the findings of the 2019 joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission, and requests the States Parties of Albania and Romania to implement all mission recommendations, and all States Parties of this property to jointly implement the following mission recommendations:
    1. Conduct on-the-ground assessments in the buffer zones and component parts where impactful forestry interventions such as clear-cuts and shelterwood cutting have been permitted, to ascertain the extent to which the effective protection of the respective components might be compromised and the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) negatively affected,
    2. Enhance the connective and protective functions of the buffer zones and strengthen the integrity of the property by minimizing the use of forestry interventions;
    3. Ensure that any interventions avoid interference with the natural processes of the beech forest ecosystem taking into account the natural expansion of their surface and to strengthen their resilience,
    4. Support undisturbed natural processes in all components and their buffer zones through natural regeneration, pro-forestation, aging of forest stands beyond conventional rotation ages, and to not take any decision that may affect the dynamics of such processes after external natural or anthropogenic events, such as fire, within or near the property’s components;
  4. Welcomes the strict protection applied by the State Party of Albania in its respective components and their buffer zones, and invites other States Parties of this transnational property to consider this approach in the revision of buffer zone management as well as the on-going development of a Guidance document for the buffer zones of the property, in order to ensure that all buffer zones of the property serve as a functional additional layer of protection in line with the Operational Guidelines;
  5. Appreciates the identification and protection of 2,000 ha of forests in the buffer zones of the Romanian components, however, noting with utmost concern that the current management of the Romanian components’ buffer zones does not meet the requirements of the Operational Guidelines and may have negative effects on the integrity of the property, urges the State Party of Romania to fulfil its intention to limit interventions in buffer zones and approve new dedicated World Heritage national legislation aimed at safeguarding the OUV of the property;
  6. Notes with concern the potential widening and paving of a forest track crossing the property and its buffer zone (national road 66A) as well as potential future activities related to hydropower facilities in the buffer zone in Domogled National Park in Romania, and thus also urges the State Party of Romania to abandon plans to upgrade the national road 66A inside and/or nearby the property, due to the potential impact of this project on the property’s integrity and its OUV;
  7. Also welcomes the amendment of the Act on Nature and Landscape Protection of Slovakia expanding non-intervention regimes, and notes that the State Party of Slovakia has submitted a significant boundary modification for its components of the property, which has been subject to the evaluation process;
  8. Notes with serious concern the level of forestry operations which are currently permissible in the buffer zones of the property, and requests the States Parties of Spain, Romania, Germany, Italy and Ukraine to provide full and up to date details of these activities to the World Heritage Centre by 1 December 2021, in order to make clear all the locations and the full list of potentially affected component parts and buffer zones, and to convene, in conjunction with the other States Parties, a subsequent technical workshop with IUCN and the World Heritage Centre to consider the means by which concerns over these activities could be resolved;
  9. Reiterates its request in Decision 41 COM 8B.7 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, also notes the submission of the “Guidance document on buffer zone management and buffer zone zonation” for review by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN and further urges the States Parties to ensure that interventions are minimised in the meantime, and that the buffer zone Guidance is based on a strict and precautionary approach;
  10. Finally requests the States Parties to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2022, an updated joint report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 45th session.
Decisions adopted at the 44th extended session of the World Heritage Committee
Context of Decision