72nd anniversary of the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia
On April 30th, 1948, institutional protection of nature in Serbia was commenced with the establishment of the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia.
As result of the multi-annual professional work of the Institute, today our country has a model of nature conservation that is harmonized with European and world standards. The national system of nature conservation currently includes our most preserved and most important parts of natural heritage within the system of 470 protected areas that cover 7.66% of the territory of Serbia. Within the protected areas, based on the expert proposal and the Study of Protection of the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia, there are: 5 National parks, 18 Nature parks, 21 Outstanding Natural Landscapes, 70 Nature reserves, 314 Monuments of nature, 36 Areas of cultural and historical importance, whereas 1783 strictly protected wild species and 860 protected wild species of plants, animals and fungi have the status of a protected natural resource.
In addition to engagement on establishing a national nature conservation system, the Director of the Institute, Aleksandar Dragišić, MA, points out that "the Institute has also been engaged in the process of integrating protected areas of our country into international networks and nature conservation programs such as the UNESCO program "Man and the Biosphere" within which two of Serbia’s protected areas have been designated as World Biosphere Reserves: Golija-Studenica and Bačko Podunavlje, while this year beech forests in the National parks "Fruška Gora", "Tara" and "Kopaonik" were nominated for the World Natural Heritage, as part of the UNESCO World Heritage site "Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe".
Europe is the only continent where pure and mixed beech forests (Fagus sylvatica) grow and dominate. The spread of European beech in the post-glacial period (after the end of the last ice age) is a process that has been going on for over 10,000 years. Beech forests of the Balkans, that is Moesian beech forests - Fagus sylvatica ssp. moesiaca are distributed in Serbia, representing autochthonous forests growing at different altitudes, ranging from (70) 100 to 1800 (2500) m a.s.l. but most commonly in the mountain belt at 800–1500 m a.s.l.
A unique aspect of the international protection of Europe's natural and primeval beech forests is their protection under the Convention on the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, which is implemented through the UNESCO World Heritage Program. The World Heritage List includes the transnational composite nature site "Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe", which currently comprises almost 80 components, i.e. beech forests in 12 European countries (Ukraine, Slovakia, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Albania). These beech forests are exceptional examples of natural beech forest complexes protected with the aim of preserving the beech forest ecosystems for future generations, as one of the most important deciduous forest ecosystems of the northern hemispheres, and certainly the most important for the European continent, for which it is endemic.
Following the last extension of this World Heritage Site in 2017, in January 2020, a nomination was submitted for a new extension of this extremely complex World Heritage Site involving 10 countries: Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Italy and France, which proposed the inscription of another 30 reserves as part of this composite site on the list of World Heritage Sites. Nominated beech reserves in Serbia are located in the Fruška Gora National Park - sites in the level I protection regime "Papratski do" and "Ravne", in the National Park Kopaonik - site in the level I protection regime "Kozje stene", and in Tara National Park - sites in the level I protection regime "Zvezda" and "Rača Gorge", which are mostly covered with conserved mixed beech forests.
Institutional protection of the remaining primeval beech forests in Serbia begins with the establishment of the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia and the establishment of protection categories such as nature reserves and strict nature reserves. Thus, the first protected natural area in Serbia, the Strict Nature Reserve "Zeleničje" designated in 1948, was precisely the primeval beech forest with cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus).
The nature of Serbia has become more represented in the World Natural Heritage Programs, and the nomination of Serbia's beech forests as part of the World Natural Heritage Site "Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe" is and evidence that Serbia's nature is conserved and unique in the world.
Here you may download the leaflet on biodiversity of a transnational composite nature UNESCO World Heritage site "Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe".