On 7 July 2017, the UNESCO Committee extended the existing World Heritage Site ‘Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany’ in Krakow.
A total of 63 beech forest properties in ten European countries were inscribed on the World Heritage List. The extended World Heritage Site is now called ‘Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe’.
It almost completely represents the still ongoing post-glacial expansion history of the beech forest, including its glacial refuge areas.
The pan-European establishment of a serial World Heritage property is a great challenge for all states involved, since certain requirements have to be met for a nomination.
An exemplary process was conducted to determine the potential of beech forests throughout Europe. Forty-six forest areas in 20 countries were identified as possible additions, with the help of international experts and within the scope of a German research project. In a pre-selection process, these areas were evaluated according to criteria such as area size, age of the trees, naturalness, and integrity.
Subsequently those properties were selected, which - like the already existing World Heritage Site - fulfil UNESCO’s criterion (ix) and represent „ongoing ecological and biological processes“, and which add value to the existing sites due to their different genetic, climatic, or geographical characteristics. Furthermore, they were deemed to have sufficient protection and adequate management. In addition to these technical requirements for inclusion, the respective states must show a willingness to conserve these beech forests in accordance with the UNESCO World Heritage Convention.