Status and Trends of Biodiversity
The Republic of Serbia is characterized by high genetic, species and ecosystem diversity. The highland and mountainous regions of Serbia, as part of the Balkan Peninsula, are one of the six biodiversity hotspots in Europe. In addition, considering the wealth of its flora, Serbia is potentially one of the global centres for plant diversity. The following biomes are found in Serbia: steppe zonobiom, zonobiom of deciduous forests, zonobiom of coniferous forests and zonobiom of high mountains tundra. Serbia has a heterogeneous flora and fauna, which includes both widespread species, as well as endemic species (Balkan, local and stenoendemic). Diverse climatic vegetation zones, including large number of extrazonal, intrazonal and azonal ecosystems, such as wetlands, peat lands, salty lands, and sands strongly influence the high biodiversity of Serbia. During the Ice Age, the territory of modern Serbia provided numerous refugia (parts of a species’ range less influenced by climate change) for a number of species. As a result, many relict and endemo-relict species inhabit the region. Genetic resources in Serbia are very rich and include a large number of autochthonic sorts and races of cultivated plant and animal species. Genetic resources of importance for food and agriculture are maintained by traditional agricultural systems or in ex-situ conditions. Even though more than 1200 plant communities have been described, it is assumed that in reality there are between 700 and 800 plant communities. Balkan endemics comprise approximately 14% of Serbian flora (547 species), while local endemics comprise 4.5% (165 species). In terms of species diversity, the Plantae kingdom is probably the most researched kingdom in Serbia. There are 400 species of moss widespread in Serbia (Bryophyta) and a total of 3,662 species (including sub-species as well) of vascular flora (Pterydophyta, Pinophyta, Magnoliophyta). Data concerning species diversity within the Animalia kingdom in Serbia are available for roundworms (Nematodes) – 139 species, Anostraca, Notostraca and Conchostraca – 18 species, Amphipoda – 33 species, fish (Osteichthyes) – 110 species, amphibians (Amphibia) – 21 species, reptiles (Reptilia) – 25 species, birds (Aves) – 345 species and mammals (Mammalia) – 94 species. Additional data related to species diversity in other groups of animals are available for the former FR Yugoslavia, but are incomplete for Serbia. Approximately 44,200 taxa (species and sub-species) have been officially registered in Serbia. Taking into account that many groups of organisms have not been adequately researched, experts assume that approximately 60,000 taxa may occur in Serbia.
Number and Extent of Protected Areas
In terms of Serbia’s protected area system, there are currently 464 protected areas in Serbia, covering 518,204 ha (representing 5,86% of Serbian territory). The preliminary list of proposals for UNESCO’s World Heritage programme contains five protected areas: National Parks “Djerdap”, “Tara”, “Sar planina”, the Natural Monument “Djavolja varos” and Special Nature Reserve “Deliblato sands”. Within the UNESCO “Man and Biosphere - MAB” Programme, the Nature Park “Golija” joined the biosphere reserves network in 2001 when it was named “Golija-Studenica”. This park covers 53.804 ha (representing 0,61% of Serbian territory). Another nine natural areas have also been nominated for biosphere reserve status. Based on the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, nine protected areas have been designated as Ramsar sites, covering an area of 53,714 ha and representing 0,61% of Serbian territory. Important Bird Areas (IBA) comprise 42 sites covering 1.259.624 ha (14,25%); Important Plant Areas (IPA) comprise 62 sites covering 747.300 ha (8,5%); and Prime Butterfly Areas (PBA) comprise 40 sites covering 910.000 (10,22%).