It is been eight years now, since five German beech forests were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. To celebrate this, a three-day symposium took place in October 2019 in Bad Langensalza, Germany. This event was also a great opportunity to celebrate the completion of a book series about the UNESCO World Heritage Site Beech Forests in Germany. The series includes five books telling stories of beech forests in Müritz, Schorfheide-Chorin, Hainich, Kellerwald-Edersee and Jasmund.
An important role in this process was the publishing company Natur&Text. They helped to organise this celebration and sales of the book series on their website. Their goal is to distribute the books to a broad audience.
Please also read: New Interreg Project Starting On UNESCO Beech Forests
Book about UNESCO Jasmund Beech Forest
For more than two hundred years, Jasmund has developed an almost magical attraction with the famous chalk cliffs. The wild, magnificient coastal landscape and the fragments of the wild beech forests is inspiring people these days again and again. Also the wild, chalky coast of Jasmund is one of the most wild and dynamic coasts along Germany in Central Europe.
For several thousand years beech forests dominated the forest of Jasmund. The uniqueness of this place is that beech forests reach the seashore of the Baltic Sea. From the cliff edge, they literally fall into the sea and in the ravines and quiet slopes they reach down to the beach. This and many more stories about the Jasmund and its beech forests can be read in the recently published book: Nationalpark Jasmund; Weltnaturerbe auf Rügen.
Power of Beech Forests
After the last Ice Age beech trees spread over Europe again as some individuals survived in small refuges in the Alps, Pyrenees and Carpathians. An example of the successful expansion of beeches is their adaptability and tolerance in different climatic, geographical and physical conditions. Furthermore, the beech is a shade tolerant tree species which means that the small tree saplings can easily survive with few light for a long time. This is a useful survival strategy as small trees often grow under shady tree cover.
Without human impact, beech trees would cover a much greater area in Europe and a typical European forest would be dominated with beeches. So beech trees play a crucial role in the appearance of forests in Europe. In addition they provide habitats for more than 10 000 living beings, including specialised species.
European Beech Forest Network
Systematic and long-term research revealed that many years ago, the beech forest was an important element of European nature and in particular for forest heritage. However, only in 2017 the European Beech Forest Network was formally created. The network emerged during the preparation process of the extension of the World Heritage “Primeval and Ancient Beech Forests of the Carpathians and other Regions of Europe”.
In April 2019 European Wilderness Society started as a partner with a new Interreg Project called BEECH POWER. This project will last for the next three years. Mainly working together with six partners, it is a great opportunity to get a new management system for beech forests. In focus are the old primeval forests of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Primeval and Ancient Beech Forests of the Carpathians and other Regions of Europe “. BEECH POWER wants to improve the management quality and effectiveness of the World Heritage Site. So the ecosystem integrity of single component parts is safeguarded. Furthermore, it will help to improve the capacities and active participation possibilities of relevant stakeholders. Also the project tries to produce replicable and innovative models for World Heritage beech forests and their local surroundings.
The European Beech Forest is an important and irreplaceable part of the European Wilderness Network. Since 2014 the European Wilderness Network is active. It has over 40 members in 17 countries and more than 350 000 ha of audited Wilderness. The network represents Europe’s last Wilderness and is expanding every year. Its main aim is an unified approach to Wilderness Stewardship and the representation of Wilderness diversity.