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Ancient beech forests in the Carpathians declared World Heritage site


Bratislava/Kiev – Primeval beech forests in the Carpathian Mountains have been inscribed on the UN’s World Heritage List, underlining the global importance of this rare forest habitat — the most extensive in Europe.

The forests, covering ten sites over 185km of mountain area straddling the border of Slovakia and Ukraine, represent an outstanding example of undisturbed temperate forests and exhibit the most comprehensive ecological patterns and processes of pure stands of European beech. They also represent an outstanding example of the re-colonization and development of terrestrial ecosystems after the last ice age, a process which is still ongoing.

“We are thrilled to see these ancient forests added to the list,” said Michael Baltzer, director of the WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme.

“Now that they are listed, however, it is imperative that the governments of Ukraine and Slovakia, as well as the European Union, take forceful measures to preserve these extraordinary treasures rather than exploit and destroy them.”

The primeval beech forests of Ukraine and Slovakia, like many other forests in the Carpathian Mountains, face a number of serious threats, including unsustainable forestry and development.

The privatization of state lands that began this year in Ukraine pose a particular threat to many of the country’s natural areas, including those already under formal protection. In Slovakia, recent moves by the government, such as the restructuring of the country’s protected area network, has effectively weakened protection of many areas.

WWF has been working for more than a decade to protect the Carpathian Mountains, playing an important role in the region in promoting sustainable forestry practices, as well as sustainable business and development activities.

The Carpathian Mountains are Europe’s last great wilderness area, and is home to over half the European population of wolves, bears and lynx.


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