The total area of forests in the Republic of North Macedonia is 38.45%, with an increase of 3.5% in the last decade. Beech forests occupy 29.87% of all forests here. They are of great importance for the forestry sector since they hold 55% of the total growing stock volume.
The North Macedonian beech forests belong to the Moesian-Balcanic beech forest region. They cover vast surfaces in three distinctive altitudinal vegetation belts. Submontane beech forests (1,100 to 1,300 m above sea level) grow around the villages and were heavily exploited for timber in the past. Montane beech forests (1,300 to 1,650 m above sea level) are better preserved and economically of greater importance. Subalpine forests (1,650 to 2,250 m above sea level) are represented by broadleaf or coniferous forests with beech being the dominant species throughout the country; in the past, they were often converted to pastures for intensive sheep breeding.
Only very small areas are covered by ancient beech forests in North Macedonia. The most important sites are found on the Korab Nidzhe, Osogovo, Maleshevo, and Belasica mountains. So far, ancient beech forests on the Korab and Osogovo mountains are included in protected areas.
Refugial beech forests are remnants of past glaciations. They evolved in deep river gorges at low altitudes and have specific plant compositions. In the southern Vardar valley they resemble sub-Mediterranean beech communities, which grow in sheltered localities at 400 to 500 meters above sea level and benefit from the temperature inversion during winter. Mixed stands of beech and Horse chestnut in the western parts are a very interesting phenomenon.