Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians at risk: A UNESCO World Heritage concern
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee’s draft decision, published last Friday, highlighted that the Slovak part of the transboundary World Heritage Site continues to be threatened by logging, despite the efforts of the government targeting to strengthen the management of the park. According to the draft: “unless urgent measures are taken to address the lack of an adequate protection regime (….), their protection from logging and other potential threats cannot be guaranteed in the long-term, which would clearly constitute a potential danger to the outstanding universal value of this serial transnational property as a whole”.
The Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007 and is located in three countries: Slovakia, Ukraine and Germany. The Slovak part of the site includes unique 200 year old beech trees and more than 300 year old clusters of silver fir, and is home to grey wolves, European bisons, brown bears and lynx.
However, the 33,670.2 hectares of outstanding natural heritage is not all protected appropriately. Inaccuracies in the designation documents, lack of communication with landowners and land users as well as incoherence between nature conservation and forestry legislation has led to long-lasting conflicts in the Slovak part of the site. As a result, current economic activities including forestry and tourism development may seriously damage more than half of the Slovak site where a strict non-intervention protection is currently not applied.
“Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians represent outstanding natural values in the Slovak but also global context. There is a risk that we lose these valuable old-growth forests and many rare and protected species inhabiting the area. It is time for the Slovak Government to show political responsibility to safeguard the area for the benefit of nature and people”, said Miroslava Plassmann, Director of WWF in Slovakia.
WWF Slovakia urges the government to take strong action towards the protection of the UNESCO site.
“Proper management and effective mechanism for compensation of landowners is necessary along with sustaining livelihoods for local communities. Only these steps can ensure that universal values survive for future generations” – Plassmann said.
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