The European Beech Forests represent a unique and unifying European natural heritage, stretching from the Mediterranean regions and southeastern Europe to the British Isles and Scandinavia, comprising vast areas in the Balkans and the Carpathians as well as in the northern European lowlands. The old-growth forests constitute a significant component of Europe’s Green Infrastructure. The conservation and restoration of old-growth Beech Forests promote ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change and provide stepping stones for shifting species. At the same time old-growth forests provide crucial ecosystem services such as climate change mitigation and carbon sequestration by permanently storing organic matter in the soil for thousands of years. The destruction of old-growth forests is a significant source of man-induced carbon emissions.
The European Beech Forest Network has the overall goal to build and grow a platform of interested parties to develop and share knowledge and experience with the expressed intention of influencing policy, management and overall protection of the European beech forest ecosystem. A special emphasis is on old-growth forests in wild and wilderness areas. The European Beech Forest Network has been founded in the context of a continent-wide screening of primeval and old beech forests, conducted in the context of the pan-European extension nomination of the UNESCO World Heritage Property dedicated to primaeval and old beech forests. The network supported the preparation and negotiation of the extended World Heritage Property Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe inscribed on 7 July 2017 in Krakow.
The European Beech Forest Network pursues the following objectives:
- safeguarding of old-growth beech forests as an integral part of the wider beech forest ecosystem.
- supporting the UNESCO World Natural Heritage “Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Ancient Beech Forests of Germany” and its extensions.
- promoting good practice in sustainable forest management through effective transference of knowledge and experience of old-growth forest ecosystems.
- raising public awareness of the relevance of European old-growth beech forests to the wider landscape and human wellbeing as well as their intrinsic value.
- contributing to effective policy and legislation for the long-term protection of old-growth European beech forest ecosystems.
- actively encouraging and supporting science and research about European beech forest ecosystems.
- developing and implementing educational activities.
- actively engaging in projects, cooperation and partnerships.
The European Beech Forest Network was founded in February 2017 in Eberswalde, Germany, and comprises members from all over Europe.