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Hamor F., Dovhanych Ya., Pokynchereda V., Sukharyuk D., Bundzyak Yo., Berkela Yu., Voloshchuk M., Hodovanets В., Kabal M.

On June 28, 2007 the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Committee on its 31st meeting in Christchurch (New Zealand) adopted a decision to include the Ukrainian-Slovak nomination “Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians” to the UNESCO World Natural Heritage.

This long-awaited historically important both for Slovakia and Ukraine event testifies of the international recognition of our conservation and scientific activities. Beech virgin forests of the Carpathians are now equal to the famous Yellowstone National Park, the Niagara Falls, the Galapagos Islands, the Baikal Lake and over 160 other natural phenomena. They will be not only property protected and studied, but will become a real Mecca for a great number of naturalists from all over the world. It is obvious that in the regions where the UNESCO Properties are located become very attractive for visitors and the tourism industry boosts together with an active social-economic development of the adjacent areas and the state acquires a more positive image.

Ukrainian-Slovak Property “Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians” covers an area about 77.971 ha, 29.278 ha of which make up the core zone, and 48.692 ha belong to the buffer zone of the property (see Table 1).

This is a transboundary serial site that consists often separate areas located along the 185 km axis from the Rakhiv Mountains and the Chornohora Mountain Range in Ukraine to the Bukovske Vrchy and Vihoriat Mountains in Slovak Republic (Hamor at al., 2005).

About 70% of tie property are situated in Ukraine and practically the whole this area belongs to CBR including the Uholka-Shyrokyi Luh massif that contains the European biggest virgin beech forest site.

This Property is globally valuable, because it is an example of temperate virgin forest natural complexes and presents the most complete and full ecological models that reflect the processes occurring in pure and mixed forest stands with different nature-climatic properties.

An invaluable gene pool of European beech (Fagus sylvatica) and a number of other associated species has preserved only here. “Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians” is extremely important for the full understanding of the Fagus genus history and evolution, which is due to its wide distribution in the Northern hemisphere is a globally important. Beech is one of the important components of the temperate broadleaved forests that used to cover over 40% of the European continent.

It is also important to emphasize here that these virgin forests grow on all types bedrock found in the Carpathians (crystalline, limestone, flysch, andesite), represent some 123 plant associations and possess a great biological diversity. Comparing to the other UNESCO Natural Properties, “Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians” is significant due to the specific flora and fauna (especially troglobiont species) that add to the ecological completeness of these ecosystems (Table 2).

Table 1. Location and area of virgin beech forests of the Ukrainian-Slovak property “Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians”

№ n\n

Massif name

Country, region

Land user

Core zone

Buffer zone

1 Chornohora Ukraine, Transcarpathia CBR 2476,8 12925,0
2 Uholka-Shyrokyi Luh Ukraine, Transcarpathia CBR 11860,0 3301,0
3 Svydovets Ukraine, Transcarpattiia CBR 3030,5 5639,5
4 Maramorosh Ukraine, Transcarpattiia CBR 2243,6 6230,4
5 Kuziy-Trybushany Ukraine, Transcarpafriia CBR 1369,6 3163,4
6 Stuzhytsya-Uzhok Ukraine, Transcarpattiia UNNP 2532,0 3615,0
7 Stuzica – Bukovske Vrchy Slovakia, Presov reg. Poloniny NP 2950,0 11300,0
8 Rozok Slovakia, Presov reg. Presov protected region 67,1 41,4
9 Vihoriat Slovakia, Presov reg. Presov protected region 2578,0 2413,0
10 Havesova Slovakia, Presov reg. Presov protected region 171,3 63,99
Total: 29278,9 48692,7

Table 2. Comparative characteristics of biological diversity of some UNESCO World Natural Heritage Properties

UNESCO World Natural Heritage Property, state, core zone area, ha

Number of species

Red-listed vascular plants

Fungi

Mosses

Lichens

Birds

Mammals

Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians (Slovakia, Ukraine), 29.279 1067(80) 741 444 436 101 73
Belovezhskaya Pushcha/ Biatowieza Forest (Belarus, Poland), 98.108 632-900 (38) 1500-3000 ? 210-254 212-232 54-55
Pirin National Park (Bulgaria), 40.060 1315(144) 375 329 367 177 45
Plitvice Lakes National Park (Croatia), 19.200 1146(?) ? ? ? 140 50
Durmitor National Park (Montenegro), 34.000 1325(?) ? ? ? 163 37
Western Caucasus (Russian Federation), 298.903 1580(160) 700 ? ? 246 60
Virgin Komi Forests (Russian Federation) 3.280.000 ? ? ? ? 204 43

Source: Hamor F., Dovhanych Ya., Pokynchereda V., Sukharyuk D., Bundzyak Yo., Berkela Yu., Voloshchuk M., Hodovanets В., Kabal M. Virgin forests of Transcarpathia. Inventory and management. – Rakhiv, 2008. – 86 p.

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