THE UNESCO World Heritage Committee has added the Slovak and Ukrainian virgin beech tree forests of the eastern Carpathian mountains to its World Heritage List.
The Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians are 10 sites that "represent an outstanding example of undisturbed, complex temperate forests and exhibit the most complete and comprehensive ecological patterns and processes of pure stands of European beech across a variety of environmental conditions," UNESCO wrote on its website. "They contain an invaluable genetic reservoir of beech and many species associated with, and dependent on, these forest habitats."
Slovakia applied for the designation together with Ukraine. Of the 10 sites of the Carpathian virgin forests, four are in Slovakia, three are in the Poloniny National Park (Havešová, Rožok and Stužica), and one is in the Vihorlat Protected Area (Kyjov primeval forest), Peter Višválder, a spokesman for the Slovak Environment Ministry, told the SITA newswire.
Some of these areas are home to endemic animals - species that live only in this territory. These forests are also important because they house large beasts such as lynx, wolves and bears.
"The Stužica National Natural Reserve is evaluated in scientific circles as one of the most significant and biggest beech primeval forest reserves in Europe," Marián Gič from the Poloniny National Park told the Pravda daily.
The primeval forests are home to many invertebrates that have just been discovered by scientists. These creatures, along with other animals and plants living in this area, are very sensitive to human interference, ecologists say.
"There are, for example, fungi or insects - they need rotting wood for their existence," Slovak ecologist Erik Baláž told the ČTK news wire.
Officials at Slovak ministries consider the addition of these forests to the list to be a sign of the great success of their nature protection measures.
Juraj Lukáč, from the VLK nature protection society, does not share their enthusiasm.
"It is sad that parliament adopted a law this week that will not prevent logging in such forests," he told the Pravda daily.
Lukáč was one of the main proponents of extending the original 50-hectare Kyjov virgin forest reserve to its current 400-hectare area. The extended reserve was officially opened one month ago.
The total area included on the UNESCO list is 29,278.9 hectares in size, and the buffer zone is 48,692.7 hectares. Of this, 5,766.4 hectares of the core zone is in Slovakia, and Slovakia's buffer zone is 13,818.39 hectares.
On June 28, the World Heritage Committee inscribed 22 new natural, cultural and mixed sites on UNESCO's World Heritage List during its session in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Slovakia has six sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Four are cultural sites (Banská Štiavnica, Spiš Castle, Vlkolínec and Bardejov) and two are natural sites (the Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst caves and the Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians).
Slovakia wants more of its sites added to the list. Together with Hungary it submitted an application to put the huge fortification system in Komárno on the list. Slovakia also wants UNESCO to add the Levoča historical centre, wooden churches in eastern Slovakia, the artificially activated geyser in Herľany, and the Tokay wine region, among others.
- By Jana Liptáková
9. Jul 2007 at 0:00