The "Ancient Beech Forests of Germany"

On 25 June 2011, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee added five of Germany’s beech forest regions to the World Heritage List. This extended the transboundary world natural heritage site “Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians”, located in the Slovak Republic and Ukraine, to include a number of German forest regions, and renamed it “Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany”.

The German part includes selected forest regions of the National Parks Hainich in Thuringia, Kellerwald-Edersee in Hesse, Jasmund and Müritz in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, and the forest of Grumsin in the Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve in Brandenburg. These are the most valuable remaining examples of large, undisturbed beech forests in Germany.

These German regions with their lowland and German low-mountain beech forests are an ideal complement to the mountain beech forests found in the Carpathian Mountains. Natural lowland beech forests now only exist in Germany, and the German low mountain ranges have the world’s highest concentration of beech forests on nutrient-poor sites. Together with the Primeval Beech forests of the Carpathians, they reflect the broad spectrum of beech forest types in Europe.

Now the various component parts of this extended World Natural Heritage property represent the different forms and local diversity of beech forests and their Post-Glacial development history. If left to nature, the landscape of the temperate zone in Central and Western Europe would be dominated by beech forests.

Unique Worldwide

The development history of beech forests since the Ice Age, the enormous competitiveness of beech (Fagus sylvtica) and the diversity of geographical and ecological beech forest variations are a unique global phenomenon. The Ancient Beech Forests of Germany are indispensable to documenting the postglacial colonisation by Fagus sylvatica from south to north, from east to west, and spanning the entire spectrum of altitudinal zones from the seashore, to the lowlands and the submontane belt, to the upper timber line in the mountains. Germany’s component parts are the most outstanding examples worldwide of the respective beech forest types. Each component part has its own specific characteristics and local peculiarities that make it unique and irreplaceable.

With the “Ancient Beech Forests of Germany” now recognised as World Natural Heritage, Germany is making a significant contribution to the protection of Europe’s beech forests.