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

Date of Submission: 28/02/2018
Criteria: (ix)
Category: Natural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of Montenegro to UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
North Montenegro, Municipalities of Mojkovac and Kolašin
Coordinates: E19 36 45,115 N42 53 34,01
Ref.: 6325
Other States Parties participating

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


The nomination, which is the subject of this submission, represents an extension of the 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 - ref. CPM 1133ter). This property has been inscribed by the World Heritage Committee in three stages. In 2007, "The Primary Beech Forests of the Carpathians, Slovakia and Ukraine" were the first listed and then this property was extended in 2011 to include the property of the "Ancient Beech Forests of Germany". The new nomination for extension was approved in 2017, with the aim of creating a serial transboundary heritage site comprising 77 components from 12 States Parties. The latest nomination aims to extend the serial property by including one component of Montenegro - National park Biogradska gora - together with components of other States Parties (fourth phase - Switzerland and Serbia have already included components in their Tentative Lists, other States Parties are still likely to do so, see 3 (c).

Virgin Forest Reserve of NP Biogradska Gora 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.

National Park Biogradska gora is included in the UNESCO Tentative List (Date of Submission: 09/11/2010, Criteria: (vii) (viii) (x), Category: Natural).

Name(s) of the component part(s)

Virgin Forest Reserve in NP Biogradska Gora

North Montenegro, Municipalities of Mojkovac and Kolašin, 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, having been designated 140 years ago.  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): Primary and ancient Beech Forests of the Carpathians and other parts of Europe are essential for understanding the history and the evolution of the genus Fagus which, given its wide distribution in the Northern Hemisphere and its ecological importance, is of a global significance. These complexes, temperate intact forests presents the most complete and comprehensive ecological structures and processes, exhaustive of pure stands of European beech in a variety of environmental conditions and represents all highland areas ranging from coastal to mountain forest line. They constitute a valuable genetic reservoir of beech trees and many species associated and dependent on these forest habitats. Beech is one of the most important forest components in the temperate broadleaf forest biome and is an outstanding example of the recolonization and development of ecosystems and terrestrial communities after the last Ice Age, a process that is still in progress. They show the fundamental aspects of processes essential to the sustainable conservation of natural beech forests and illustrate how a single tree species has managed to impose absolute dominance over a variety of environmental parameters.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

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, surface of 2400 ha, where the strict protection system has been established. Virgin Forest Reserve in Biogradska Gora is characterized by its uniqueness as an area that has been protected 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

At the meeting held in 2011, during the first extension of the property, the World Heritage Committee congratulated Germany, Slovakia and Ukraine for their commitment and encouraged them to continue the work - in collaboration with other European countries - to develop a successful transnational serial nomination for the protection of this unique forest ecosystem.

By 2010-2013, a group of international experts defined a "short list" of all the major old and primary forests in Europe that could contribute significantly to the outstanding universal value of the existing property and presenting the potential to their integration as components of this property. To establish this list, the experts used consistent scientific criteria assessing the contribution of each forest to Outstanding Universal Value, its integrity and degree of protection, regardless of size. Even elements with a small surface can indeed, under certain conditions, be important to build a representative system of postglacial ecological and biological evolution of the beech (Fagus sylvatica) expansion.

Comparison with other similar properties

As part of the selection process for primary and old beech forests, a classification system defining the Beech Forest Regions (BFR) in Europe has been developed. Each BFR is characterized by a specific climatic situation and flora and demonstrates an individual history of postglacial development of beech forests, differing in time from the first arrival of beech and different genetic beech ecotypes, at the time when beech started to recolonize Europe after the last ice age from different refuge areas. It is considered that a complete serial and transnational European-wide application should include sites from all BFR. Therefore, the most appropriate beech forest sites in each BFR have been selected to represent in the best way the different ecotypes and post-glacial development process. Each component of a BFR has its specific aspects and contributes significantly to the series as a whole.

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 a transitional zone to the Eucinical BFR and include 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.