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2019. július 26.

Rockaway beech

Come and hitch a ride to the INTERREG CE funded BEECH POWER project, aiming to save ecosystem integrity in the UNESCO World Heritage site “Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and other Regions of Europe.”

Photo credit: Patricia Alberth / UNESCO

By Thor Morante B.

To beech, or not to beech, that is the question. For the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the answer is simple: to beech. Having among its World Heritage sites the “Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe,” the recognition of the importance to preserve these deciduous trees is undeniable. The site represents the most complex natural one in the UNESCO portfolio, comprising 78 single component parts in over 40 protected areas located in 12 countries.

The existence of challenges, nevertheless, becomes rather notorious considering all these numbers. While local management in the 78 parts might face similar problems (e.g. buffer zone management), the environmental and socio-economic contexts differ considerable on the local and national levels. In other words, how to manage 78 parts of one site in a balanced, efficient and successful way?

Not an easy task, most certainly. That is why the INTERREG Central Europe mechanism decided to award funds to the BEECH POWER project, whose aim is to enhance the management quality and effectiveness within this UNESCO site in order to safeguard the ecosystem integrity of the 78 single component parts.

BEECH POWER, which recently had its Kick-off Meeting and Conference on 12-16 June in Eberswalde, Germany, will take an ecosystem-based and participatory approach, while working on different administrative levels, to anchor sustainable regional development. Moreover, it will also work on producing replicable and innovative models for world heritage beech forests and their local surroundings.

Since the end of the last Ice Age, European Beech spread from a few isolated refuge areas in the Alps, Carpathians, Dinarides, Mediterranean and Pyrenees. Its continental expansion is due to the tree’s adaptability and tolerance of different climatic, geographical and physical conditions.

All in all, through the production of guidelines, strategies and recommendations, the BEECH POWER project will create a “Beech Forest Quality Standard” to support protected area administrations, public authorities and actors from civil society in their daily work.

Beech, please

During the Kick-off Meeting, Hanns Kirchmeir also introduced attendants to the World Heritage Coordination Project.

The project, which has a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) grant of 1.53 million euros, will work with six diverse target areas in five countries: Kalkalpen National Park (Austria), Paklenica National Park (Hungary), Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve (Germany), Poloniny National Park (Slovakia) and Snežnik-Ždrocle and Krokar (Slovenia).

With that in mind, during the Kick-off Meeting and Conference, the state-of-the-art of the targeted UNESCO world heritage site was displayed. According to Hanns Kirchmeir, Board Member of the European Beech Forest Network, there are big challenges related to buffer zone management, though there is a Buffer Zonation Guidance document currently being developed and aimed towards World Heritage beech forest component parts.

Therefore, seven project partners will implement the project until the end of March 2022. They are:

CEEweb for Biodiversity will be involved in the project as an Associated Strategic Partner (ASP), bringing forth its expert inputs related to its long-lasting work in the field of biodiversity and the recent results of the TRANSGREEN project — with special attention to reaching target groups and successfully involving relevant stakeholders.


Project Manager: Marcus Waldherr

Financial Manager: Julia Fleck

Communications Manager: Nick Huisman