Joint Slovak-Ukraine-Germany Beech Ecosystems as the World Natural Heritage

Ivan Vološčuk 1
  • 1 Matej Bel University, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Institute for Landscape and Region Research, Cesta na amfiteáter 1, 974 00 Banská Bystrica, Slovak Republic

Abstract

The European beech Fagus sylvatica L. ssp. sylvatica L. is exclusively found in Europe. The beech survived the ice age in small refuges in the south and south-east Europe and went on to colonise large parts of the continent. The post-ice age colonisation of the landscape by the beech took place parallel to the settlement of land by humans and the formation of a more complex society. For centuries much of the Carpathian mountain forests remained untouched (Fig. 1). Virgin forests constitute a natural heritage of global significance. In 2007, 10 protected areas with the Primeval Beech Forests of Carpathians (Slovakia, Ukraine) were added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List. On 25 June 2011, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee added five of Germany’s beech forest protected areas to the World Heritage List. This extended the transboundary world natural heritage site ‘Primeval Beech Forest of the Carpathians’, located in the Slovak Republic and Ukraine, to include a German forest protected areas, and renamed it ‘Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Ancient Beech Forests of Germany’. This paper is aimed at the presentation of the outstanding universal value of the ecological processes in the Joint World Heritage Sites, short description of protected areas and principles of their integrated management plan. This paper also deals with problems in management plan realisation in practice. Ultimate goal is to achieve that management and socio-economic sustainable development practices are in harmony with primary objectives of World Heritage Site protection, biodiversity conservation, ecosystem and landscape stability, rational use of natural resources, ecotourism development and with potential of the landscape in largest possible extend.

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