UNESCO in the Czech Republic protects both historical landmarks and natural localities. The beech forests on the north side of the Jizera Mountains in North Bohemia were inscribed in the UNESCO List of Natural and Cultural Heritage in July 2021. These forests are one of the very last mountain beech forests in Europe almost untouched by people.
Unique Forests in Central EuropeThe Jizera Mountains Primeval Beech Forests, protected by UNESCO, cover an area of about 27 square kilometres on the north-east hillside of the Jizera Mountains in North Bohemia. However, this is not a protection of one isolated area, but an incorporation in existing localities protected under the Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe. This item on the world heritage list includes about a hundred localities in twelve European countries.
The area is remarkable for mixed and beech forests on steep slopes with unique geomorphology. The inaccessibility of the mountain slopes was an advantage for the forests. People preferred to extract wood on hillsides that were easier to access and did not venture to the north side of the mountains. Thanks to that the forests have been almost untouched by human activity, and they evolve based on natural principles. The most valuable internal part has about ten square kilometres and it is surrounded by a protective zone of about seventeen kilometres. The oldest trees in the Jizera Mountains Primeval Beech Forests are 350 years old; many of the beech trees are about one hundred years old – the forest grows and dies naturally. The name is a bit misleading: even though it is officially called the beech forests, it is not only beeches that grow there. In the mixed forests, you will also find rowan and linden trees, and oaks, firs or spruces grow in the lower part, some more than two hundred years old. The best preserved and most valuable parts of the Jizera Mountains Protected Landscape Area are the home to many rare animals and plants. A part of the preserve is a completely non-intervention area where nature is left to its own spontaneous evolution. It is a unique central European primeval forest in the true sense of the word.
What to ExpectThe forests on the mountain slopes with many rock massifs and scenic vistas are not only interesting in terms of ecology, but also tourism. However, there is one catch due to the difficult terrain: unlike in other Czech landmarks inscribed in the UNESCO heritage list, there are no information or visitor centres in the Jizera Mountains Primeval Beech Forests. It is only clean and majestic nature in its purest form. Do not expect any crowds or pubs along the way. The terrain is more difficult, the elevation gain along trails is quite high, and there is only one road suitable for bikes. Simply said, it is an ideal place for hikers who seek natural beauties, solitude, and peace and quiet. It is best accessible by car from Liberec and you can park in Hejnice or in Lázně Libverda. Hiking signs and educational trails will show you the way.
Jizera Mountain Beech Forest (Jizerskohorské bučiny)