German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Project Profile: UNESCO World Heritage beech forests

UNESCO World Heritage beech forests
German nomination and follow-up


National park Hainich
Photo: T. Stephan
Beech forest in the Hainich National Park

During a screening for potential German candidates for a nomination as UNESCO world heritage the German beech forests were already identified as appropriate candidates in 2005. A following feasibility study (2006) recognized suitable regions in Germany and recommended these areas for a transnational nomination together with Slowakia and Ukraine. These countries had already submitted a joint nomination of the "Beech Forests of the Carpathians" in 2005 whose insciption into the World Heritage list was decided by the World Heritage committee in 2007.

The project:

Conferment of the nomination certificate
Photo: K. Kaiser
Representatives of the beech forests receive the certificate

With the assistance of the German Environment Ministry (BMU), the German states of Brandenburg, Hessen, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Thuringia prepared the nomination of 5 German beech forest areas as an extension of the Slovakian-Ukrainian site. The cluster consists of selected parts of the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park in Hessen, the Hainich National Park in Thuringia, the Jasmund and the Müritz National Parks in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, and the Grumsin total reserve in the Schorfheide-Chorin biosphere reserve in Brandenburg. The findings of the feasibility study mentioned above led to the nomination process. On 25th of June 2011 the UNESCO World Heritage Committee accepted the extension of the Slovak-Ukrainian beech forest World Natural Heritage (Primeval Beech forests of the Carpathians" with the "Ancient Beech forests of Germany". In this context, several trilateral meetings with the Slovak and Ukrainian environment ministries, representatives of the German states and experts have been held since 2007. These meetings resulted in the agreement of closer trilateral cooperation in matters relating to UNESCO World Natural Heritage sites, with activities focusing on the trilateral beech forest World Heritage site.

With the nomination of the German beech forests Germany fulfills its special obligations for the protection of the beech forests in Europe.
For further information please refer to: UNESCO World Heritage Beech Forests official website

After the nomination of the trilateral beech forest areas in Germany, Slovakia and Ukraine as World Natural Heritage Sites in 2011 these countries were charged with the task to pursue their efforts and to identify further beech forests worth of protection.

The process to a European World Heritage Site

Primeval beech forest in Slovakia
Photo: BfN
Extract of a primeval beech forest in Slovakia

The study “European Heritage Beech Forests” aimed at investigating the potential for a final seral nomination of the European beech forests and thus to ensure the protection of these unique ecosystems.

In the course of this project especially the scientific, technical and organizational processes of a possible further nomination should be supported. To identify possible forests, areas that were proposed by experts or authorities were undertaken a screening in respect of the criteria to be fulfilled for a World Heritage Site nomination. In several expert workshops possible candidate areas were designated.

As a result 46 of these candidate areas were identified for an additional nomination which shall be nominated as extension in 2016. Until January 2015, 12 states had already decided to participate in the extensional nomination under the lead of Austria. Going beyond the project the objective remains to create a European-wide network of beech forests and to protect and maintain them in the long term.

For more information: see final report.


Final report "European World Heritage Beech Forests"

Project information:

Duration: Started 2006

Programme: Research and development projects

Project partners:  Prof. Dr. Harald Plachter (Universität Marburg), Dr. Alexandra Kruse und Dr. Helmut Kruckenberg (Büro für Landschaft & Service), Buchenwaldinstitut e.V., atelier Papenfuss (Weimar), Prof. Pierre Ibisch (Hochschule für nachhaltige Entwicklung Eberwalde) 

Beech Forest on the Island of Rügen
Photo: T. Stephan
Beech forest on Rügen's chalk coast

Project management at BfN:

Section I 2.3, International Nature Conservation
Contact: Barbara Engels (

Last Change: 03/04/2018