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 https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1133/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://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 to Slovakia; October 2018: World Heritage Centre/IUCN Advisory mission to Slovakia

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019

From 16 to 19 October 2018, a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Advisory mission visited the Slovak components of the property. On 30 November 2018, the States Parties submitted a joint report on the state of conservation of the property, available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1133/documents/, providing the following information:

On 22 October and 11 December 2018, the World Heritage Centre sent letters to the State Party of Albania regarding third party information about hydropower projects currently being implemented in Valbona National Park and illegal logging of old-growth forests in Shebenik-Jabllanice National Park, respectively, potentially affecting the Albanian components of the property. No response has been received to date. 

On 12 November 2018, the World Heritage Centre sent a letter to the State Party of Romania regarding third party information about logging operations in old-growth forests in the buffer zones of the Romanian components of the property. On 8 January 2019, the State Party replied, noting that logging was undertaken in the buffer zones of the respective components and had no impact on their Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). The forest interventions were undertaken in accordance with the national legislation and the relevant Management Plans. On 24 January 2019, the World Heritage Centre sent a follow-up letter asking for additional information regarding the exact location of the undertaken logging operations. On 12 March 2019, the State Party of Romania provided information on the location, the amount of harvested wood and the size of forest area affected by the operations in the buffer zones of the two components in question.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The information provided by the States Parties regarding the progress achieved in addressing the Committee’s requests expressed in its Decision 41 COM 8B.7 is noted. The discussions underway to ensure that funding is available for coordinated management of the property, as well as the approach developed to ensure better connectivity between the components are welcomed. The measures proposed by the State Party of Belgium to improve connectivity between existing components are noted, however, actual enlargement activities will be required in order to fully address the Committee’s request to consider the future enlargement of components to at least the established minimum size of 50 ha.

The development of joint guidelines for design and management of buffer zones across the property is welcomed. Progress has been achieved in reaching a common understanding of the appropriate management regimes. While this progress should be welcomed, it is of great concern that the States Parties have not yet agreed on some of the most critical issues , particularly regarding such activities as “clear cuts >0.3 ha, shelterwood cuts >0.3 ha” within buffer zones. It needs to be recalled that various IUCN evaluations of this property have stressed the importance of good buffer zone design as the only feasible way to protect the integrity of the small forest remnants included in this property. Through its Decision 41 COM 8B.7, the Committee requested all States Parties of this property to give special emphasis to appropriate buffer zone management, in order to support undisturbed natural processes.  It is therefore recommended that the Committee urge the States Parties to define a clear and strict approach to buffer zone design and management, which will allow for the protection of the OUV of the property and seek further guidance from the World Heritage Centre and IUCN. It is crucial that an appropriate management of the buffer zones is put in place in all components of the property to avoid jeopardizing its integrity and hence the OUV of the property.

In this respect, it is noted that issues related to logging in the buffer zones remain of concern in several parts of the property. The information provided by the State Party of Romania regarding logging operations in the buffer zones in Domogled-Valea Cernei and Cheile Nerei-Beusnita National Parks raises concern. According to the spatial data provided by the State Party, logging operations were limited to buffer zones only, but some locations appear to be very close, or even adjacent, to the boundaries of the components. In fact, the States Parties’ joint report notes the possibility of negative impacts from the opening of the canopy of stands adjacent to the property and recommends a minimum distance of 50m for openings larger than one tree height, and a crown cover not to fall below 80%. It is also of concern that no response has been received from the State Party of Albania regarding third party information about illegal logging in the buffer zone of one of the Albanian components, nor has any update from the State Party of Albania been included in the joint report. It is therefore recommended that the Committee extend its previous requests on the matter to all States Parties, so as to ensure that logging is, and remains, strictly prohibited within the property, and that no logging operations are allowed in the buffer zones of the property if they could have negative impact on natural processes and the property’s OUV. It is further recommended that the Committee request the States Parties of Albania and Romania to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to their respective components of the property in order to assess whether past, ongoing or planned legal and/or illegal logging operations in the buffer zones had or might have negative impacts on the property’s OUV. It is further recommended that, prior to this mission, all States Parties of this transnational property provide an overview about the management regime of their respective buffer zones and the management operations which took place since inscription.  

The intention of the State Party of Slovakia to submit a proposal for a significant boundary modification of its components by February 2020 is noted. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to ensure that the recommendations of the Advisory mission are fully taken into account in the preparation of the final proposal and that it reiterate its position regarding the continued lack of adequate legal protection of the Slovak components of the property.

Finally, it is noted that corrections have been proposed for the boundaries of two components in Croatia and their buffer zone, only two years after the inscription of the components. It is recommended that the World Heritage Committee request the State Party of Croatia to provide more detailed information on the backgrounds and reasoning for this potential boundary modification of the two components for future follow-up through the appropriate procedures, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN.

Decision Adopted: 43 COM 7B.13

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 41 COM 8B.7 and 42 COM 7B.71, adopted at its 41st (Krakow, 2017) and 42nd (Manama, 2018) sessions respectively,
  3. Welcomes the discussions currently underway to ensure funding availability for coordination activities and to improve connectivity within and between component clusters and across the property;
  4. Also welcomes the decision of the State Party of Slovenia to designate the two forest reserves containing its components of the property as nature reserves in order to strengthen their legal protection regime;
  5. Noting the measures developed by the State Party of Belgium to address the Committee’s request to consider the future enlargement of components to at least the established minimum size of 50 ha, requests it to continue its efforts in this regard to fully address the Committee’s request;
  6. Notes with appreciation the willingness of the States Parties to develop joint guidelines for buffer zone design and management and the progress achieved to date, but expresses concern that no progress has been made on clear guidelines regarding acceptable logging activities within the established buffer zones and reiterates the importance of good buffer zone design and effectiveness as the only feasible way to protect the integrity of the small forest remnants included in this property;
  7. Considering that Decision 41 COM 8B.7 requested all States Parties of this property to give special emphasis to appropriate buffer zone management in order to support undisturbed natural processes, urges the States Parties to define a clear and strict approach to buffer zone design and management which will allow for the protection of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and to seek further guidance from the World Heritage Centre and IUCN on this issue;
  8. Regrets that the State Party of Albania did not provide any update regarding the state of conservation of its components through the joint report submitted by the States Parties, and also requests it to provide a response to the letters from the World Heritage Centre, especially regarding third party information about illegal logging in the buffer zone of one of the Albanian components;
  9. Also notes with concern the information provided by the State Party of Romania, which shows that logging operations undertaken in the buffer zones of the Romanian components of the property took place in areas close or adjacent to the boundaries of the components and reiterates its request, extending it to all States Parties, to ensure that logging is, and remains, strictly prohibited within the property, and that no logging operations are allowed in the buffer zones of the property if they could negatively impact natural processes and the property’s OUV;
  10. Further requests the States Parties of Albania and Romania to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the Albanian and Romanian components of the property, respectively, and all States Parties of this transnational property to provide, prior to this mission, an overview about the management regime of their respective buffer zones and the management operations, which took place since inscription, in order to assess whether activities in the buffer zones of the property might have negative impacts on its OUV;
  11. Also noting the intention of the State Party of Slovakia to submit a proposal for significant boundary modification of its components by February 2020, also urges it to ensure that the recommendations of the 2018 Advisory mission are fully taken into account in the preparation of the final proposal and reiterates its position that, due to the continued lack of adequate legal protection of the Slovak components of the property, 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;
  12. Further noting the proposed corrections of the boundaries of two Croatian components and their buffer zone, requests furthermore the State Party of Croatia to provide more detailed information on this potential boundary modification to the World Heritage Centre and IUCN for future follow-up through the appropriate procedures;
  13. Finally requests the States Parties to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2020, 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 44th session in 2020.