Anniversary of the World Heritage Beech Forests of Germany

25th June 2021

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the inclusion of five German component parts in the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe”. Considering that Germany is the heartland of European beech forests distribution (with about one-fourth of their natural range), the addition of the German areas, allowed the World Heritage property to better represent old-growth European beech forests, their history and evolution. 

The German component parts are found in the Jasmund, Kellerwald, Schorfheide, Hainich, and Serrahn. Each of these five forest areas, with their own geological characteristics and biodiversity, complement each other. Together, they form the most valuable old beech forests of Germany, with an area that covers from the low mountain ranges to the coast. Today, these magestic forests attract millions of visitors each year, both locals and visitors, who enjoy hiking and admiring the wonders of one of Europe’s last wild places.

By nature, beech trees would cover the central areas of the European continent. Nowhere else on earth has a single tree species conquered large parts of an entire continent in such a short time as the European beech did after the last ice age. This still ongoing process was an important feature in the recognition of beech forests as a World Heritage Site. However, beech forests in Europe have been severely decimated and impaired by humans in recent centuries. Old, near-natural and thus particularly species-rich beech forests are very rare today. Unique lowland beech forests are now found almost exclusively in Germany.

Let’s celebrate by experiencing beech forests

10 years of this UNESCO World Heritage site in Germany are a good start for the protection of Europe´s last precious forests, and the perfect occasion to go into the forest again, exploring your surroundings with wide-open ears and eyes. To celebrate this especial occasion, and taking advantage of the fact that June is the World Heritage Month, Jasmund National Park and Müritz National Park will offer great excursions and photo safaris for the whole family to explore the beautiful World Heritage.

For those nature lovers who unfortunately cannot or are not yet allowed to travel into the forests, a virtual starting point for a journey into Europe’s wilderness is the relaunched World Heritage Beech Forests website. This platform will inspire and inform you with numerous texts, pictures and videos, including several new videos.

Small-scale event in Grumsin 

The celebratory event scheduled on the anniversary was postponed to 16th of September due to the uncertain planning situation caused by the pandemic. Nevertheless, the Grumsin component – directly participating in the BEECH POWER project through the partner City of Angermünde – will celebrate the anniversary on a smaller scale today in Altkünkendorf on a smaller scale.

State Secretary for the Environment Silvia Bender will open the event with the ceremonial handover of a lottery fund decision to the mayor of the city of Angermünde, Frederik Bewer. This money will be used to support the following anniversary activities, among others: a video documentary on the anniversary year, a participatory art action as part of the Common Views art project, an educational trip for volunteers, guided walks, a photo workshop and a photo competition.

Afterwards, Frederik Bewer and the head of the Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve, Dr. Martin Flade, will report on current developments around the Grumsin Beech Forest World Natural Heritage Site and announce the other events and offers in the anniversary year.

At the same time, the city of Angermünde will launch an approximately two-hour forest experience tour “Embodied Views” by the artists David Behar Perahia and Dan Farberoff with a dance performance. It will be accompanied by an audio tour, which, together with the dance experience, invites visitors to take a different look at nature.