Green Belt Europe: A treasure chest of species diversity
At the Green Belt Europe there is a procession of the most valuable habitats, from the Arctic north to the Mediterranean south. A journey along this artery crosses 24 countries, covering more than 12,500 km.
In the far north, reindeer covered part of the distance emigrating from Russia to Finland, where they had almost become extinct. In Karelia you can find, in primeval forests bathed in light, living and dead giant trees which began growing some 700 years ago. Brown bears, wolves and lynx, but also endangered bird species, such as the three-toed woodpecker and eagle owl live here. In November 2006, Russia placed the Kalevalsky primeval forest, right on the Finnish border, as a national park under permanent protection. It is three times the size of the Bavarian Forest National Park, and is an important part of the Fennoscandian Green Belt.
The Morava-Thaya floodplains are among the most important wetlands of Central Europe. They form the "fluid state border" between Austria, South Moravia in the Czech Republic and western Slovakia. For all three countries, the Morava-Thaya floodplains are key areas for the protection of birds, having an enormous diversity of species. Apart from wetlands and flood-plain meadows, there are habitats such as wet meadows and salt meadows, as well as semi-dry grassland and sand grassland. Wild animals such as red deer and lynx use the meadows as an important migration corridor.
Between Austria, Slovenia, Hungary and Croatia, the Drau and Mur rivers still flow unhindered through meadows, wetlands and vineyards, to the Danube. European otters, sea eagles and thousands of sand martins make a habitat out of this dynamic river landscape. You can find out more about the natural treasures on the Central Europe Green Belt here.
In the attractive Bojana-Buna region in the border area between Montenegro and Albania lies a further treasure of nature. Salt lakes, lagoons and the largest lake in the Balkans - Lake Skutari - provide sanctuary for numerous bird species such as avocets and Dalmatian pelicans.
Lake Ohrid and the large and small Prespa lakes lie in the regions bordering Greece, Albania and Macedonia. They are today considered to be one of the most ecologically valuable sections of the Green Belt in the Balkans. In winter and during the migratory period, huge flocks of migrating birds use the lakes as a stopover. The vicinity of the lakes and the mountain pastures are rich in endemic plants. Wolves and brown bears live in the forests.
You can find out more about the natural treasures on the Green Belt South Eastern Europe here.