Carpathian Forests on UNESCO World Heritage List

Today, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced that 22 sites have been added to its World Heritage List, including the Primeval Beech Forest of the Carpathians.

With the new additions, the
World Heritage List now includes 851 sites including 660 cultural, 166 natural and 25 mixed properties in 184 countries all around the world.

The site stretches over the Presov region of Slovakia and the Transcarpathia province of Ukraine, both areas part of the traditional Rusyn homeland. The site was added to the World Heritage List as “Primeval Beech Forest of the Carpathian (Ukraine and Slovakia),” but actually includes ten distinct areas considered together as “an outstanding example of undisturbed, complex temperate forests exhibiting the most complete ecological patterns and processes of pure stands of European beech”.

The ten sites stretch along a 185 kilometer axis from the Rakhiv Mountains and the Chornohirskyi Range in Ukraine, along the Polonynian Ridge to the Bukovske Vrchy and Vihorlat Mountains in Slovakia.

The UNESCO website says, “They contain an invaluable genetic reservoir of beech and many species associated with, and dependent on, these forest habitats. They also represent an outstanding example of the re-colonization and development of terrestrial ecosystems and communities after the last ice age, a process which is still ongoing”.

The only other Rusyn-related item on the World Heritage List is the
Wooden Churches of Maramures in Romania, added in 2003.

The UNESCO advisory body’s report on the site can be
downloaded from the UNESCO website in .pdf format. And for more on the ecology of the Carpathian mountains, check out the Carpathian Ecoregion Initiative.

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