Twelve virgin beech forests of Romania are now part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, after a meeting held by UNESCO’s official committee in Krakow. This is the second natural attraction of Romania included in the list after the Danube Delta.
Beech forests were named by UNESCO as invaluable resources since 2007 and were inscribed in the World Heritage list under the name of Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe. The former index has recently been expended to include 12 countries: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Ukraine. After the addition of 67 new component parts in 33 protected areas, the natural site is now comprised of 82 forests.
Romania’s selected forests
With 12 different component parts, Romania is the country with the second largest number of beech forests chosen, after Ukraine (15) and before Italy (10) and Bulgaria (9). The total surface on Romanian territory reaches 23,982.77 ha, whilst the buffer zone, the one meant to help protect each property, exceeds 64,470 ha.
The selected areas are:
- Cheile Nerei Beusnita – One of the largest virgin forests still found in Europe, it is characterized by little intervention of humans. It was declared Nature Reserve and is part of the Nera gorges – Beusnita National Park;
- Codrul Secular Sinca – It is home to a remarkable number of trees of ages above 350 to 400 years. It is also renowned for having the tallest silver fir tree in Romania (62.5 m) and the tallest beech tree from Europe (55.1 m);
- Codul Secular Slatioara – It is an area of mixed forests (Beech, Norway Spruce and Silver Fir), similar to those that covered the country in the past. Here, the floristic reserve Todirescu Meadows can also be found;
- Cozia – This area has two components – Masivul Cozia and Lotrisor, which are separated by the Olt Defile. Although beech is predominant, there are other important species of trees, amongst which the presence of pure sessile oak is remarkable;
- Domogled Valea Cernei – It is a cluster formed by three different components: Domogled – Coronini – Bedina, Iauna Craiovei and Ciucevele Cernei, connected by a continuous stretch of forests. A fact that stands out is that the forests extend into the sub-alpine area, which might constitute an interesting case in the context of global warming;
- Grosii Tiblesului – This area is also comprised of two components – Izvorul Surii and Preluci, covered entirely in beech forest. It can be found in the northern part of the Romanian Eastern Carpathians.
- Izvoarele Nerei – It has similar characteristics to the Cheile Nerei Beusnita area, as they are located in close proximity to each other. It is also home to a large number of trees with ages over 350 years, the maximum age found being 477 years;
- Strambu Baiut – The area is made entirely out of beech forests and represents one of the most unique primeval forests of the Romanian Eastern Carpathians.
According to UNESCO, after the last Ice Age European beech spread from a few isolated places to its current locations, in a process that is still ongoing and that needs protection from human intervention.
The forests which were chosen to be included in the World Heritage list are virgin forests, which have never been exposed to human influence directly and primeval forests, which have a high biodiversity and the capacity of natural regeneration.
Due to differences in climate, soil and altitude more than 80 types of beech forests have formed across all regions and they each have their unique ecosystem. The forests are characterized by a rich floristic diversity, a dynamic cycle of growth of all tree species and a high variety of fungi. They are home to 20% of Central Europe’s fauna and some rare and spectacular bird species.
Future perspectives for Romanian beech forests
Now that these Romanian beech forests are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, long-term protection and management is ensured by national authorities. No human intervention can be made without specific reason, so the areas are expected to keep developing into some of the country’s most treasured natural attractions.
Although mass tourism is unlikely to be possible, a type of tourism that focuses on helping preserve the existing ecosystems will be encouraged, allowing visits for scientific, educative and recreational purposes.
Besides preserving the old forests, it is also important to continue the work of planting new trees and in this perspective the NGO Viitor Plus has done a very good job. They are also promoting the sustainable use of materials, including textile shopping bags, recycling plastic and more.
If you love nature as much as we do, come discover Romania’s amazing natural attractions in one of our tours!
Photo credit: www.montaniarzi.ro/