Each year the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) convenes to determine which sites will be granted World Heritage status in recognition of their outstanding value to humanity. At the 41st session of its World Heritage Committee, meeting in Krakow, the UNESCO has inscribed 63 new areas of ancient and primeval beech forest in 10 countries on the World Heritage List. Among them are two areas in Slovenia: the Krokar virgin forest and the Snežnik-Ždrocle forest reserve.
Slovenia offers an outstanding patchwork of biological, geographical and cultural diversity, with dozens of major natural assets and items of significant European cultural heritage and UNESCO world heritage sites. Almost 50 % of Slovenia’s territory is covered by protected natural areas, and almost 15,000 aspects of the country’s nature have been awarded the status “valuable natural feature”. The UNESCO World Heritage List is of the utmost importance for cultural and natural heritage. Four Slovenian gems shine on the global map of 1,000 heritage units: Škocjan Caves as a unique natural monument, the prehistoric pile-dwellings around the Alps, the heritage of Mercury in Idrija and now the Krokar virgin forest and the Snežnik-Ždrocle forest reserve. In addition to the central sites of special interest, the World Heritage Site Tentative List includes Classic Karst and Fužina Hills in Bohinj.
The Krokar virgin forest is an example of untouched primeval forest in the heart of the well-preserved forests of the Kočevje region, which are also part of the Natura 2000 network in Slovenia. The Snežnik-Ždrocle forest reserve, on the other hand, consists of ancient beech forest with sections of primeval forest. Like Krokar, it lies within a large forest complex that is included in the Natura 2000 network.
Slovenia’s beech forests will appear on the list alongside forests of already acknowledged outstanding universal value in Germany, Ukraine and Slovakia, which together form the World Heritage site Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany. The list is completed by areas in Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Italy, Romania, Spain, Ukraine, Slovakia and Croatia.
Inscription on the list represents a recognition for Slovenia and a commitment to further enhance the protection of both forest reserves and other beech forest ecosystems in the future.
Partial sources: www.en.unesco.org, www.vlada.si, www.nationalgeographic.com