Beech tree forests in the Northern Velebit and Paklenica national parks have been nominated for the UNESCO world heritage list, the Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection reported on Wednesday.

To support the nomination, Croatia has included particularly valuable areas of beech tree forests in the Northern Velebit and Paklenica national parks covering 3,233 hectares, the ministry reported.

"We wish to facilitate an even greater level of protection for Croatia's nature and sustainable development of areas surrounding our national parks. UNESCO protection means greater recognition on the global level. That also means a greater number of tourists, which will mostly benefit the local population," Assistant Environment Minister Nenad Strizrep said after a meeting in Vienna of 13 European countries that are preparing the joint nomination proposal "Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other European Regions" to be added to the UNESCO world heritage list.

Strizrep added that currently the Plitvice Lakes national park and the Papuk nature park are already on the UNESCO list and he was confident that Northern Velebit and Paklenica would join them soon.

At the meeting in Vienna, representatives of 13 European countries adopted a joint declaration on the intention for serial nomination that would be submitted to UNESCO's Paris office by the end of January.

The ministry recalled that Croatia was one of the wealthiest European countries with regard to biodiversity and natural beauty, as evidenced by the fact that it has been on the UNESCO world heritage list since 1979. 

Localities that are nominated for the World Heritage List must be of special cultural or physical significance and have a universal value. The Northern Velebit and Paklenica beech forests are being nominated for their primeval nature, geographic position and size, the ministry explained.

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