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

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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.

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

Description

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)

1. Stužica – Bukovské vrchy – Slovak Republic, Prešov Self-Governing Region N 49°05′0" E 022°32′0"
2. Udava – Slovak Republic, Prešov Self-Governing Region N 49°10'40" E 22°13'0"
3. Havešová – Slovak Republic, Prešov Self-Governing Region N 49°00′30″ E 022°20′00″
4. Rožok – Slovak Republic, Prešov Self-Governing Region N 48°58′36″ E 022°28′00″ 
5. Vihorlat – Slovak Republic, Prešov Self-Governing Region, Košice Self-Governing Region N 48°54′55″ E 022°12′02″
6. Kyjovský prales – Slovak Republic, Prešov Self-Governing Region N 48°51′30″ E 022°01′00″

Description of the component part(s)

Slovak component parts are already included in the existing World Heritage property of the “Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe”. These component parts were part of the first inscription in 2007, together with Ukraine. Six following Slovak component parts were re-included into the Tentative List entry as a result of the boundary modification process. In its decision 42 COM 7B.71, the World Heritage Committee requested to submit the boundary modification of Slovak component parts of the property as a significant modification in line with paragraph 165 of the Operational Guidelines. This implies that the proposal for a significant boundary modification shall be submitted as if it were a new nomination (including the requirement to be previously included on the Tentative List). Inclusion of following 5 (out of 6) component parts results from the boundary modification process: Stužica – Bukovské vrchy, Udava (before part of Stužica – Bukovské vrchy), Havešová, Rožok, Vihorlat. The last component part Kyjovský prales is a proposed extension of the existing property.

1. Stužica – Bukovské vrchy
Stužica – Bukovské Vrchy is a complex of beech primeval forests that extends along the Slovak-Polish border from the Pľaša hill in the North-West to the headwaters of Stužica River (Bukovské Vrchy Mts.) in the South East. The component Stužica – Bukovské vrchy, as well as all other Slovak components, belongs to the Carpathian European Beech Forest Region. The complex comprises several primeval forest reserves, such as Stužica, which is the most representative part of this component, located in the most Eastern part of Slovakia near the border between Slovakia, Poland and Ukraine. The beech primeval forests complex contains some 200-year-old beech (Fagus sylvatica) specimens and >300 year-old clusters of silver fir (Abies alba) including exceptionally large individuals, as well as equally respectable sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) trees.

2. Udava
Udava component includes Udava Nature Reserve and proposed nature reserve Rydošová, which is situated in the western part of the component. The component is located in the headwater area of Udava river in the Poloniny National Park. The Nature Reserve is part of larger Carpathian beech forests of flysch areas. Due to favourable climate conditions, Udava Nature Reserve contains particularly well-preserved beech-fir forests with diverse ecological conditions and the occurrence of many native plant and animal species, what makes it one of the most valuable parts of the Poloniny National Park. In terms of phytocenology, the forests of Udava Nature Reserve are dominated by beech (Fagus sylvatica) – representing approx. 70 %, followed by silver fir (Abies alba), contributing about 20 %.

3. Havešová
Havešová National Nature Reserve contains nearly homogeneous, largely mono-dominant mature beech forests with significantly variable height and diameter structure and some of the tallest and largest European beech specimens in the world. Its developmental cycle lasts 220 – 250 years. The developmental stages occur within spatially restricted small patches and can be delineated based on the proportion of trees within the middle overstorey and the average diameter of trees from the upper overstorey. Massive beech trees (Fagus sylvatica) form stands with sparsely admixed (less than 5 % of the standing volume) sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus), common ash (Fraxinus excelsior) and wych elm (Ulmus glabra). The forests of Havešová are part of larger Carpathian beech forests of flysch areas. Bedrock beneath the reserve is sandstone flysch, with cambisols being the prevalent soil type. Overall, soil conditions are favourable and productive, allowing beech to reach heights up to 56 m with diameter more than 100 cm. Sycamore and common ash in combination only contribute approximately 5% of the total tree volume in Havešová Reserve.

4. Rožok
Rožok National Nature Reserve contains nearly homogeneous, largely mono-dominant mature beech forests with significantly variable height and diameter structure. Its developmental cycle lasts 220 − 230 years. The developmental stages occur within spatially restricted small patches and can be delineated based on the proportion of trees within the middle overstorey and the average diameter of trees from the upper overstorey. Massive beech trees (Fagus sylvatica) form stands with sparsely admixed (less than 2 % of the standing volume) sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus), common ash (Fraxinus excelsior) and wych elm (Ulmus glabra). The forests of Rožok constitute a part of larger Carpathian beech forests of flysch areas. Cambisols rich in humus have gradually formed in the reserve, providing the basis for a highly productive primeval beech forest.

5. Vihorlat
Vihorlat is a large complex of beech primeval forests extending along the arc of the main range of the Vihorlat Mountains. This component part is an example of primary beech forest with distinctively variable diameter and height structure. Typical selection structure is very rare, occurring only in small patches of forest where senescence is very gradual and characterised by the dying of individual trees. Due to this fact, the regeneration stage in the forest exceeds 60 years. Most often, the senescence stage lasts less than 60 years, and thus the stands often have a two-layer structure. These two-layered stands are characterised by a richly differentiated lower overstorey and a sparsely represented upper overstorey in the latter phases of the senescence stage. The whole developmental cycle of these forests lasts 220 – 230 years, out of which 50 – 70 years are in the senescence stage, 90 – 110 years are in the maturation stage, and 60 – 80 years are in the optimum stage.

6. Kyjovský prales
National Nature Reserve Kyjovský prales was first designated in 1974 and then enlarged in 2007. It is situated in the headwater area of Kamenica river in Vihorlat mountains. The bedrock in the reserve is composed of andesite rocks of the Kyjov stratovolcano. The northern part of the reserve consists of mature homogeneous beech forests with significantly variable height and diameter structure. Mature beech forests in the southern part of the reserve contain sparsely admixed sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) with specimens reaching up to 390 cm in circumference, common ash (Fraxinus excelsior) and wych elm (Ulmus glabra). In the whole nature reserve, there is an abundant occurrence of dead wood (standing or fallen), in different stages of decay. The nature reserve is part of Natura 2000 network.

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.

They as a whole are formed by unity of its abiotic and biotic components, undisturbed biochemical cycles. Each component part follows natural dynamics characterized by rich structural and textural patterns. Autoregulation processes are ensured on areas > 50 ha. The effects of abiotic factors as well as the exchange of biological information are not restricted to any considerable level. The components are embedded in valuable natural or semi-natural forest complexes which are integral part of protected areas. They are not encircled by agricultural land, deforested land or man-made monocultures. Genetic exchange and repopulation are then possible, which is essential for sustainable existence of the virgin forest ecosystems. The biological processes and landform of all component parts are intact. The representation of all forest structures are occurring within the ergodic process of beech primeval forest dynamics, including uneven forest floor, multiple vegetation layers, occurrence of large diameter logs and stems, snags, dead wood and old trees, openings in the forest canopy, high diversity in the herbaceous layer, lichen and fungus abundance and diversity. All component parts satisfy conditions of integrity and all but one (Rožok, 67 ha) nominated component parts are far larger than 50 ha.

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:

Slovak component parts, as first inscribed parts of the property, are indispensable for adequate representation of the unique evolution and adaptability of the Beech in the Carpathian Beech Forest Region, with its largest occurrence of beech forests in the whole Europe. Slovak components are thus integral part of the Carpathian “backbone” of primeval and ancient beech forest – of a continuous arc of natural and seminatural beech forests extending along the Eastern Carpathians. These last, best conserved, remnants of monodominant beech forests are formed of highly productive and extremely stable ecosystems on mesotrophic substrates, such as flysh and volcanic rock (andesite). Particularly favourable site conditions allow the beech to reach heights up to 56 m – tallest European beech trees measured.

1. Stužica – Bukovské vrchy is a contiguous complex of beech primeval forests that is linked directly to the Ukrainian component part “Stuzhytsa – Uzhok” in the east, as well as to the proposed Polish component part “Bieszczady” in the north. The territory is characterised by relatively high variability in terms altitude (650 to 1221 metres above sea level), slope gradient and aspect, as well as related soil variability. The property lies in the outer Carpathian flysch belt. Cambisols, being the main soil type, help provide the basis for the particular productivity of this site with natural beech-fir forest communities. The beech primeval forests complex contains some 200-year-old beech (Fagus sylvatica) specimens (up to 322 cm in circumference) and >300-year-old clusters of silver fir (Abies alba) including exceptionally large individuals, reaching up to 392 cm in circumference.

2. Udava Nature Reserve contains, due to favourable climate conditions, particularly well-preserved beech-fir forests with diverse ecological conditions and the occurrence of many native plant and animal species. The nature reserve can be characterised by a high degree of naturalness and parts of preserved virgin forests situated in inaccessible parts of the reserve. The core of the nature reserve was designated in 1982, the reserve was then enlarged in 2005.

3. Havešová contains nearly homogenous, largely mono-dominant mature beech forests and some of the tallest and largest European beech specimens in Europe. Particularly favourable and productive soil conditions allow beech to reach diameter of more than 100 cm and heights up to 56 m. In the whole nature reserve, there is an abundant occurrence of dead wood (standing or fallen), in different stages of decay, with no visible human interference.

4. Rožok is one of the most productive beech primeval forests on the Slovak territory. This nature reserve contains nearly homogeneous, largely mono-dominant mature beech forests with remarkable stand characteristics (standing and laying wood volume, tree height, tree diameter, tree longevity, complex vertical and horizontal stand structures). Cambisols rich in humus have gradually formed in the reserve, with featuring good water, air and nutrients regimes. These soils provide the basis for a highly productive primeval beech forest with the average age of trees 130 years, 210 years in the main canopy.

5. Vihorlat is a complex of ancient and primeval beech forests in Vihorlat mountains. The bedrock is composed of andesite rocks of two extinct stratovolcanoes Morské oko and Vihorlat, with andosols being a prevalent soil type. The excellent soil properties found in the reserve are reflected in the high stability, productivity, and good health of its ecosystems, which contain 240-year-old specimens of beech. Hardwoods such as sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) and common ash (Fraxinus excelsior) are also found in this component part due to its rocky andesite substrate.

6. Kyjovský prales contains, similarly to Vihorlat, mature beech forests that developed on andesite rocks of the Kyjov stratovolcano. In the whole nature reserve, there is an abundant occurrence of dead wood (standing or fallen), in different stages of decay. The northern part of the reserve consists of mature homogeneous beech forests with significantly variable height and diameter structure. Mature beech forests in the southern part of the reserve contain sparsely admixed sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) with specimens reaching up to 390 cm in circumference, common ash (Fraxinus excelsior) and wych elm (Ulmus glabra).

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).