World Heritage Properties in Germany
With its ratification of the World Heritage Convention, Germany has undertaken to conserve its natural and cultural properties which have significance for mankind as a whole. It has also undertaken to propose properties of “outstanding universal value” for inscription on the World Heritage List.
A glance at the current World Heritage List shows that in the efforts to protect world heritage both globally and in Germany, there is an imbalance between cultural and natural properties. Of the 39 World Heritage properties in Germany, only three are a Natural World Heritage property: Messel Pit Fossil Site, Wadden Sea and Ancient Beech Forests. The other 36 are cultural properties, such as Cologne Cathedral, Muskauer Park / Park Muzakowski or the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen.
More intensive efforts to protect natural properties
In 2004, a research study commissioned by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) was carried out to identify natural properties which might potentially be suitable for nomination as UNESCO World Heritage in Germany. The natural properties identified through the study were screened to determine their prospects of success in the event of nomination. The study concluded that “serial nominations” have far greater prospects of success. Serial nominations comprise several individual component parts, and can be prepared by several countries working together. This option is particularly important for natural properties in Europe. Due to intensive settlement, many natural habitats here are highly fragmented and their global significance is only apparent when viewed in terms of Europe as a whole. In the comparative study, numerous natural properties were evaluated. The study identified Germany’s beech forests as natural assets of “outstanding universal value”, primarily due to the diversity of the distribution forms and types of beech forests. German beech forests are especially important in that respect, and so the success prospects of a nomination of German beech forests as part of a serial European nomination were examined in more detail in a feasibility study carried out in 2006. As a result, in February 2007, five German beech forest areas were proposed for future nomination to the World Heritage List. The planned German beech forest cluster should be regarded as enhancing the “Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians” Natural World Heritage property.