The Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians

Mountain and high mountain beech forests

In the Carpathians, the European beech almost reaches the north-eastern limit of its distribution. This species builds the majority of the forest canopy; in the Carpathian Mountains
around 30 %, and in the Ukrainian Carpathians almost 40 %. Due to this, one of the greatest mountainous regions of Ukraine is called ‘Bukovyna’, which is translated into English as «the beech land». The beech forests cover a great span of altitudes – from 300 to 1,550 m a.s.l. They are represented both by pure beech and also mixed beech forests. However, the biggest areas are covered by beechdominated communities.

Due to the great diversity of climatic, geological, geomorphological and soil conditions, the beech forests of the Carpathians are characterized by a rich and diverse flora. Within the mountainous part of the UNESCO-World Heritage Site alone, there are around 500 plant species, quite large percentage of which are rare or endemic to these forests or are unique for other reasons.

Although the Carpathian fauna is characterized by the presence of most of the typical European forest species, it also displays certain differences. Due to enormous undisturbed areas of forest, the Carpathians shelter viable populations of various large mammals such as bear, lynx and wolf.