IUCN evaluation of Slovak World Heritage component

Between the 13th-16th September 2020, an IUCN evaluation of the Slovak component parts of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe, took place. Here, the aim of the evaluation was to evaluate the adjustment of the donation of the Slovak component parts and ensure that the recommendations of previous missions were fulfilled. 

Broad multifaceted approach 

Associated Partners from the BEECH POWER project, the Ministry of the Environment of the Slovak Republic and the State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic, organised this evaluation of the component parts. The National Forest Centre of Slovakia, a BEECH POWER project partner, was also present during the mission, alongside participants from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Slovak Republic, the IUCN, local forestry managers, representatives from nearby municipalities and numerous NGOs.

The evaluation trip lasted three days in total, involving field trips to all sites in the Slovak component parts. During this period, the parties involved discussed the definition of core and buffer zones, with the view of enhancing the protection and status of these areas. Related to this was also the discussion of subzones and their management, with a focus on forestry management but also on tourism and other sectors as well. 

Decisions made

After thorough consideration from all parties, with input from multiple sectors, the forest managers and protected area administrators agreed on the adjustment of the boundaries of the Slovak component parks. They also agreed upon a management framework in each of the individual protection zones. Suggestions that were given with regards to improving the management of the areas included close-to-nature and selective forest management. All in all, the management plans now allow for a greater role from nature itself in the functioning of the Slovak component parts. 

At a higher level, the outcomes of this evaluation trip were found satisfactory by the IUCN and the Ministry of the Environment of the Slovak Republic. They indicated their approval of the mission’s course and the fulfilment of the prior recommendations.

Next Steps

Despite being approved by the parties present at the evaluation trip, the overall process requires further work. The Slovak government submitted the newly agreed proposals to the Joint Management Committee of the UNESCO site. 

Forest management principles following landscape conservation and the sustainable use of buffer zones form a part of this submission and provide a summary of the strategies agreed upon during the evaluation trip. These principles attempt to preserve landscape diversity along the lines of natural biotope protection and a management approach that stay as close to nature as possible. 

Together, the evaluation trip and its outputs have allowed for the strengthening of the Slovak component parts’ protection within the wider UNESCO World Heritage Site. Subsequently, the respective areas will now be able to deal better with any future challenges they face.