The Slovak beech forests belong to the Carpathian Beech Forest Region and are an outstanding example of intact montane forests of the temperate zone, preserved in their complex natural state.
Forest dynamics in this area were able to continue undisturbed since the last ice age. In the past, human use was limited to forests near settlements or agricultural land. Vast stands of forest in more remote areas were free from human interference well into the twentieth century. Some of their remnants became nature reserves as early as 1908, and in 2007 the most valuable areas were recognised as Natural World Heritage.
There are two World Heritage sites in Slovakia, Poloniny and Vihorlat. Poloniny is part of Poloniny National Park and comprises four component parts. The mountainous region is part of the most densely forested areas in Slovakia. Eighty percent of its area is covered by forest. The European beech dominates other tree species. Pure beech stands predominate, only a small part of the national park is covered by habitats with fir-beech stands or mixed stands with other deciduous tree species.
Vihorlat comprises two component parts and is located in the Vihorlat Mountains – a volcanic mountain range in Slovakia’s east. The beech forests there are characterised by the absence of both spruce and fir. They are an example of primary beech forests with a significantly variable structure of diameter and height.