The European Beech is exceptionally adaptable to different climatic, geographical, and physical conditions.
It is a very competitive species and asserts itself almost everywhere: from rich calcareous to nutrient-poor sandy soils, from mountains to lowlands, and from humid to dry conditions. Which is a reason for its successful expansion since the end of the last glacial period about 12,000 years ago.
Our World Heritage Site reflects nearly the entire spectrum of beech forest types from the mountains to the sea.
Depending on climate, soils, and location, each component part features completely different forest patterns. The spectrum changes along the distribution range from south to north and from east to west, from the lowlands to the montane zone. There they are further differentiated by soil, water balance, location, and climate. In Europe, a distinction is made between 86 beech forest types in 36 geographical variants.
The World Heritage Site’s lowest-lying beech forest grows in Jasmund National Park on the island of Rügen (Germany) – it reaches down to the seashore at only 2 meters above sea level here -, while the highest stands can be found at Monte Pollino National Park in Italy at about 1,900 meters above sea level. The oldest beech forests are found within the Italian Abruzzo, Lazio & Molise National Park – they are nearly 600 years old. The largest component part of the World Heritage Site is Uholka within the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve (Ukraine). It covers 11,860 hectares of beech forest.