The five forests are Jasmund National Park and the Serrahner beech forest in the Müritz National Park, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the Grumsin beech forest in Brandenburg, the Hainich National Park in Thuringia and the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park in Hesse.
They are now under special protection and have places on a rather exclusive list that also includes the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef and the Galápagos Islands.
True primeval beech forests disappeared from Germany long ago, with only fragments remaining. Such forests are now only found in East Central Europe, mainly in the Carpathian Mountains. The five areas approved by UNESCO represent the most valuable remnants of extensive semi-natural beech forest in Germany.
For years, Germany's only Natural World Heritage site was the Messel Pit in Hesse, which was put on the World Heritage List for its extensive fossil remains. In 2009, the Wadden Sea National Parks of Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein, a large unbroken system of intertidal sand and mud flats, were also designated natural treasures.