The nature in Greece is of great diversity and it varies a lot.
There are more than 6,000 plant species have been recorded, of which 700-750 are original that is they can be found only within the boundaries of the Greek land.
There is a large number of widespread species relative to the size of Greece, due to the isolation of the numerous mountains and islands.
Equally rich is the variety of fauna species living, nesting, propagating or migrating in the Greek regions. The fauna consists of a rich mixture of European, Asian and African species, including a considerable number, which are extensive. The freshwater fish fauna is one of the richest in Europe: 107 species, of which 37 are endemic, in the standing and running water systems of the country. Moreover, 40 endemic subspecies have been recorded.
There are also at least 18 species of amphibians and 59 species of reptiles, approximately 60% of which inhabit the broader areas of the Greek wetlands. About 407 bird species have been recorded, of which 240 nests in Greece. The mammals of Greece include 116 species, of which 57 belong to IUCN endangered species categories.
Even though it's a relatively small land area, Greece contains an astonishing variety of ecosystems. Wetlands, old-growth forests, fertile shallows, and thousands of islands contribute to Greece's biodiversity. Three quarters of the country is mountainous. The mountains, yet unexplored, are very beautiful and full of life. They are covered with deep gorgeous forests and give rise to some of the most spectacular views.
One of the most picturesque mountains of Greece is Mt. Pelion, home of the Centaurs. Homer has praised its fantastic flora and medicinal plants in his works, describing Pelion as the "leafy" and "woody" place. A long time ago several large, predatory animals must have inhabited the range. One of them was Cheiron, who, according to Greek mythology, was Achilles' teacher.
Nowadays, the mountain is still extremely forested and incredibly green. The western side encloses the Pagasetic Gulf, covered with olive trees. Its outline looks like the silhouette of a bird in flight. The eastern side opens onto the Aegean, whose landscape is rather rough, uncultivated and wild. Small peaceful villages, set up all along the shore, make the coastline of the Gulf look eye-soothing, and small beaches, spread all the shore through, add a special charm to this place.
The territory of Greece is made up of a large mainland, the Peloponnesus Peninsula, plus more than 1,400 islands, including Crete, Rhodes, Corfu, and the Dodecanese and Cycladic groups, once visited can never be forgotten, as all of the islands have their own charm and natural beauty.
The Greek land, surrounded by the sea on three sides, also has rivers that do not dry up in summer and picturesque lakes. Take the Prespa lakes, Mikri and Megali (Little and Big), for instance. Cradled by high mountains, they attract so many types of birds and possess so many unusual plants and animals that they've been declared a national park; Greece's largest in fact at 250 square kilometers.
Greece shares borders with Albania, Former Yugoslavia, and Bulgaria to the North, and Turkey to the East. Thus, Greece has a unique geographical location, which is probably why the country hosts a wide variety of animals and plants, many of them are unique to Europe.
About 700-750 plant species, out of more than 6000 recorded, are original, which means they can be found only within the boundaries of the Greek land. They are widespread relative to the size of Greece, due to the isolation of the numerous mountains and islands.
The flora consists mainly of white poplars, oak, chestnut, spearheaded cypresses, pine, fir and olive-trees. Greece also possesses a great amount of wildflowers like anemones, violets, tulips, peonies, narcissuses, partheniums, and primroses, many of which are featured in classical poetry and mythology.
The fauna of Greece is a large mixture of European, Asian and African species. It includes bears, wild cats, brown squirrels, jackals, foxes, deer, wolfs, seals, lynxes, as well as rare species of wild-goat, which inhabits the mountainous regions of Crete. The mammals of Greece are 116 species, of which 57 belong to IUCN endangered species categories. There are also over 400 bird species, two thirds of which are migratory. 240 bird species nest in Greece. Among the birds of prey are mainly the golden and imperial eagle, and several species of falcons. You may even come across with an owl, pelican, partridge, pheasant, woodcock and nightingale.
The freshwater fish fauna is one of the most various in Europe: 107 species, 37 out of which are endemic, in the standing and running water systems of the country. Moreover, 40 endemic subspecies have been recorded.
There are also at least 18 species of amphibians and 59 species of reptiles, approximately 60% of which inhabit the broader areas of the Greek wetlands. Butterflies, freshwater crabs, frogs, lizards, bats, locusts and hummingbird moths can also be seen.
However, the greatest impression one can be made on, comes from observing a group of graceful dolphins, swimming past, disturbing the surface of the water, jumping out and twisting in the air!
The climate here is typical Mediterranean, which means that it's hot and dry in summer time, relieved by stiff breezes, especially in the north and coastal areas, and winters are usually wet, short and mild. As a result, you will not run out of food, as it is abundant year-round and the hominids, which have inhabited this area for several thousands years now, have never had to plan for long winters ahead.
About 25% of the Greek land is covered with woods, 34 million hectares that is. The forests of Greece, such as the palm forest at Vai in Crete, the woods of the island Skiathos, the virgin forests (Rodopi), as well as true monuments of nature the Haidou Forest of Xanthi, the wood of den droid broad-leafed evergreens on the island of Sapientza, make a great contribution into the world of fauna, by providing a habitat to a large number of species.
Nowadays intensive human activity threatens nature around the world. EPO (Society for Protection of Nature and Ecodevelopment) is working hard for the protection, conservation and sustainable development, collaborating with authorities for a better future of the Greek nature. EPO supports projects for protection of the wetlands, creating buffer zones, re-connection of old river branches, reforestation of riparian forest, construction of breeding islets for terns and other water birds, as well as setting up a feeding scheme for vultures. A net - work of protected forests has been defined. Among them the national forest parks of Parnitha, Sounion, Parnassos, Ainos, Iti, Prespes, Samaria, Vikos-Aoos, Olympos, where a lot of rare animals find refuge and protection from the threat of extinction, are of first importance.
Parnitha National Park, covering an area of 3,800 hectares, was established in 1961 in Attica and contains trees of fir and pine and bushes that are characteristic of the vegetation of the Mediterranean. There are cool and quiet areas, covered by poplars, planes-trees, willows and broad-leaved deciduous tress, with their own micro - climate. The Park has a large number of different species of fauna.
Parnassos National Park is situated in the Central Greece and was founded in 1938. It covers an area of 3,600 hectares. There is a lot of vegetation in the park: the fir, wild plum-tree, the fescue grass, plus there is a wide variety of rare plants such as Peonia Pamassica, Thyinus Pamassicus, Astragalus Pamassii, etc. The fauna is also incredibly wide and fascinating, but be careful - there is a wide variety of snakes and insects!
The Iti National Park lies to the south of the valley of the River Sperchios in the Central Greece. Part of the area is covered by forests of fir and black pine; Alpine lily Lilium Cholcedonium can be seen in the forests, while holm-oak, arbutus, cedar and oleander grow on the lower slopes. One of the major representatives of the world of fauna is a deer and a roe deer, wild goat and wild boar. Coming to the park you will definitely enjoy sweet bird's singing, along with frog's choir.
Come and visit Greece and you will not be disappointed. The pictures of a true beauty and charm of Greek nature will become one of your favorite memories to recollect.