Located in South-Eastern Europe, Croatia is the youngest member of the European Union, as of 1 July 2013. Thanks to its geographical location and morphology, Croatia encompasses three biogeographical regions, out of nine recognized in the EU. Vast plains in the east, dense forests which cover more than 35% of the central territory and more than 1,000 islands in the Adriatic host Croatia’s extraordinary biodiversity.
Croatia: a country of more than 1,000 islands
The most famous biogeographical region present in the country is certainly the Mediterranean, located along the Eastern coast of the crystal-clear Adriatic Sea. The exact number of species and subspecies that really live or breed in the Adriatic is still not known. According to a very rough estimation, between six and seven thousand species of flora and fauna may live in the Croatian part of Adriatic Sea, of which more than 5,500 invertebrates. This region, with mild Mediterranean climate and karst, has an exceptionally large number of endemic plant and animal species.
The Alpine region in Croatia still retains the look of wild and untouched nature and comprises the Dinaric mountains with the karst cave systems, mountain pastures, dense forests where bears, lynx and wolves roam freely, and karst fields with rivers.
Central Croatia, which is part of the Continental biogeographical region, is characterized by gentle hills covered with forests, which increasingly lower to the East leading into the Pannonian plain.
The number of known species in the whole of Croatia is around 38,000, though the estimated number is far higher – from 50,000 to over 100,000. This is a very significant number for a relatively small country. Although Croatian nature is of high value, many of its species are threatened according to the IUCN criteria.
IUCN has seven members in Croatia: Ministry of Environmental and Nature Protection, Directorate for Nature Protection, State Institute for Nature Protection, Croatian Herpetological Society –Hyla, Association BIOM, Croatian Biological Society, Croatian Society of Natural Sciences and Eurocoast Croatia.
The Snake-eyed Skink fighting the Black Pine
The Snake-eyed Skink (Ablepharus kitaibelii) is one of the rarest and most endangered reptile species in Croatia, where it has small area of occupancy and is threatened by the habitat destruction. The Nature Park Papuk and Croatian Herpetological Society-Hyla have been working on its conservation for the last three years, revealing the invasive Black Pine (Pinus nigra) spreading as one of its major threats. Read more
Natura 2000 Network enlarged with Croatia’s accession
Croatia is characterised by a great diversity of land, marine and underground habitats with corresponding wealth of species. Becoming a Member State of the European Union, Croatia greatly contributes to the natural heritage of the EU. With 87 bird species and 53 regularly occurring migratory bird species, 135 “other” species and 74 habitat types on reference list, it is not surprising that more than 29% of total territory of the country is included in Natura 2000 Network. Read more
Combating Invasive Alien Species
The new Nature Protection Act (Official Gazette No. 80/2013) of Croatia establishes important changes regarding Invasive Alien Species (IAS) in Croatia by regulating the criteria for their import, trade and use, as well as their introduction into nature. The Act takes into consideration the risk assessment protocols which predict the species’ invasiveness. Read more
Large carnivores in Croatia
Large carnivores – bear, wolf and lynx – are an important component of Croatia's biodiversity and a natural wealth which needs to be preserved. Their conservation is a complex task for which Croatia is making intense efforts, in particular for the most challenging aspect – the relations with people. From the biological aspect, bear and wolf populations can be considered stable, while the lynx population is declining. Read more
Protecting the Olm
The Olm (Proteus anguinus) is endemic to subterranean freshwater habitats of the Dinaric Karst. It is the only cave-adapted vertebrate and it eats, sleeps, and breeds underwater. The Olm has adapted to living in total darkness and can survive for up to 10 years without food. The Croatian Herpetological Society - Hyla and the Croatian Institute for Biodiversity are working on Olm conservation within the PROTEUS project. Read more
Mysterious Balkan Snow Vole
As a poorly known species endemic to the Western Balkans, the Balkan Snow Vole (Dinaromys bogdanovi) is in the focus of a continuous research and educational activities of the Association BIOM. Its goal is to better understand the Balkan Snow Vole biology in order to evaluate its current conservation status in Croatia and propose adequate conservation measures. Read more
The Karst Viper in Croatia
The Meadow Viper (Vipera ursinii) is the smallest European viper that has fragmented and isolated distribution through Europe. Its venom is not harmful to humans since it eats crickets and grasshoppers. The Croatian Herpetological Society - Hyla is working on the conservation of its subspecies, the Karst Viper (V.u. macrops), a Balkan endemic species that inhabits high mountain grasslands of the Dinaric Arc. Read more
Uncertain future of the Balkan Terrapin
The territory of Croatia is inhabited by two species of freshwater turtles. Unlike the European Pond Turtle (Emys orbicularis) which is widespread throughout the country, the Balkan Terrapin (Mauremys rivulata) is one of the most endangered reptile species in Croatia. It is present only in the country's far south which is the most northern and most western part of the species range. Read more