On January 27th 2016 in Paris, the three regions have officially presented their candidacy to have parts of the Sonian Forest recognised as World Heritage. The Belgian representative at Unesco, Philippe Potjes, signed the application file in Paris.
Ever since the end of January 2015, parts of the Sonian Forest are on the shortlist of 33 untouched beech forests. Unesco now wants to complete the European network of authentic beech trees, after forests in the Carpathians and Germany have already been recognised. Aside from the Sonian Forest in Belgium, forests in Albania, Slovenia, Romania, Italy, Poland, Austria, Croatia, Bulgary, Slovakia, Ukraine and Spain are also eligible for the title.
Unesco representatives of the 13 countries involved signed the joint candidacy file on January 27th, during an official ceremony in Paris, in the presence of the director of the World Heritage Center, Mechtild Rössler. The three Belgian regions aim for a spot on the world ranking with five parts of the Sonian Forest.
In 2016, Unesco inspectors will visit all candidate countries. Staff members of the three regions will prepare the visit to the Sonian Forest in great detail. Unesco is expected to decide in 2017 which areas will be recognised as world heritage.