Europe`s Beech Forests

The European beech (Fagus sylvatica) is exclusively found in Europe. Without the influence of mankind, beech forests would dominate the landscapes of Central Europe.
The beech survived the last ice age in small refuges in the south and south-east of Europe and went on to colonise large parts of the continent. This dominance has developed within the last 4,000 years – a relatively short time period.



Beech forests thrive in a wide spectrum of locations and are part of diverse forest communities from the sea coast of North-West Europe to the main European mountain ranges. They provide a natural habitat for more than 10,000 species of animals, plants and fungi.
The post ice age colonisation of the landscape by the beech took place parallel to the settlement of land by humans and the formation of a more complex society. It is therefore not surprising that the beech has become an important element in European culture. Words like ‘book’ are linked to the beech, and numerous names of landscapes and towns in Europe can be traced back to their association with the beech.

Potential natural distribution of beech forests in Europe
Potential natural distribution of beech forests in Europe