Białowieża Forest, Białowieża
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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The entry on the World Heritage List of the Białowieża Forest, located alongside the border between Poland and Belarus, encompasses an immense area of 141 885 hectares, along with a buffer zone of 166 708 hectares. The forest is a massive lowland forests that are characteristics of the Central European mixed forests terrestrial ecoregion, its value emphasised by the fact that it encompasses all types of forest ecosystems which exist in this region.

Białowieża Forest has survived in its natural state and is characterised by extensive areas in which no man-made transformations have taken place, with exceptionally large zones populated by old-growth trees. As a result of the natural processes which take place therein, the region features numerous dead wood, standing and on the ground; their presence results in the diversity of fungi and saproxylic invertebrates.

From the viewpoint of environmental protection, an important factor is the presence of many animal species, including 59 mammal species, over 250 bird, 13 amphibian, 7 reptile and over 12,000 invertebrate species. One of the highlights is the large population of European Bisons, which have become a symbol of the forest. There are approximately 900 of those animals living in the Białowieża Forest, which make almost 25% of world’s population and over 30% free-living animals.

The Polish part of the Białowieża Forest (the Białowieża National Park) was included on the World Heritage List in 1979 during the 3rd session of the World Heritage Committee in Cairo and Luxor; the entry was subsequently extended in 1992 during the 16th session of the World Heritage Committee in Santa Fe to include the Belarusian part of the forest. In 2014, during the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee in Doha, the entry was extended yet again, with the property being renamed as Białowieża Forest (dec. 38 COM 8B.12).

Entry made on the basis of criteria IX and X:

Criterion (IX):

Białowieża Forest conserves a diverse complex of protected forest ecosystems which exemplify the Central European mixed forests terrestrial ecoregion, and a range of associated non-forest habitats, including wet meadows, river valleys and other wetlands. The area has an exceptionally high nature conservation value, including extensive old-growth forests. The large and integral forest area supports complete food webs including viable populations of large mammals and large carnivores (wolf, lynx and otter) amongst other. The richness in dead wood, standing and on the ground, leads to a consequent high diversity of fungi and saproxylic invertebrates. The long tradition of research on the little disturbed forest ecosystem and the numerous publications, including description of new species, also contributes significantly to the values of the nominated property.

Criterion (X):

Białowieża Forest is an irreplaceable area for biodiversity conservation, due in particular to its size, protection status, and substantially undisturbed nature. The property is home to the largest free-roaming population of European Bison, which is the iconic species of this property. However the biodiversity conservation values are extensive, and include protection for 59 mammal species, over 250 bird species, 13 amphibians, 7 reptiles, and over 12,000 invertebrates. The flora is diverse and regionally significant, and the property also is notable for conservation of fungi. Several new species have been described here and many threatened species are still well represented.

The property is accessible to visitors.

Compiled on the basis of materials of the National Heritage Board of Poland, 30-11-2015

General information

  • Type: natural
  • Chronology:
  • Form of protection: UNESCO
  • Address: Białowieża
  • Location: Voivodeship podlaskie, district hajnowski, commune Białowieża
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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