IUCN - The Carpathians: A natural bridge between Western and Eastern Europe

The Carpathians: A natural bridge between Western and Eastern Europe

11 October 2012 | Article
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The Carpathians form a natural bridge between Western and Eastern Europe, allowing for species migration and genetic exchange. They contain some of the least disturbed ecosystems such as the largest European natural beech forest complex as well as vast tracks of mountain primeval forests. They house numerous endemic species (over 480) and threatened mountain plant species and communities, while harbouring one third (3,988) of all European vascular plant species. The highest peak of the Carpathians, Gerlach culminates at 2,655m in Slovakia.

After the Alps, the Carpathians, are the second largest chain of mountains in Central Europe, and from the point of view of Central Europe, the most important. The Carpathians are a subsystem of the Alpine-Himalayan system. They are divided into three provinces: Western Carpathians, Eastern Carpathians, and Southern Carpathians. The rivers of the Carpathian mountains lead to the Danube into the Black Sea, and to the Visla into the Baltic Sea.

From a zoological point of view, the Carpathians are an important host for many animal and plant species. Many endemic and relict species of various systematic groups can be found here. Some examples: Ursus arctos, Triturus alpestris, Triturus montandoni, Tetrao urogallus, Strix uralensis, Picoides leucotos, Aquila chrysaetos, Sorex alpinus, Chionomys nivalis, Canis lupus, Rupicapra rupicapra ssp. tatrica, Marmota marmota ssp. latirostris and others.

See Carpathians satellites images, here 


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