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Plants of the Northern Velebit National Park

Because of its special position, Velebit is influenced by a variety of climates and geographical areas, as reflected in the flora or the plant life covering the mountain. Velebit hosts plants characteristic of coastal, inland and mountain habitats. Species belonging to an area are called flora elements. Among the plants of North Velebit, boreal (northern) and arctic-alpine (northern-Alpine) flora elements are commonly found. The arrangement in which identical or closely related species grow in northern regions an on mountain tops is the result of glaciation, periods in which much of the earth was covered in ice. The plants in cold areas had then lost their living space and were forced to migrate southwards. When the ice started to melt, it become too warm for them, and only those plants growing on mountain tops, where the climate is similar to that of northern or polar regions, were able to survive. After withdrawal to the mountains, these plants became isolated, as if living on an island, surrounded by a large area of unfavourable warm habitats. In their isolation, each group of plants evolved independently from others, resulting in creation of unique species and subspecies – the endemics. Velebit is one of Croatia’s four centres of endemism.

Mountain maple decoration of the Plants page

So far over 950 species and subspecies have been recorded in the Park. Many of them are of limited, regional distribution, and some 40 are locally distributed, strict endemics. They account for 4.4 percent of North Velebit flora, which is high for European circumstances. According to the IUCN criteria – (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), 2.3 percent of species and subspecies are included in the national Red List of Threatened Plants compiled by the State Institute for Nature Protection. At European level, 5.1 percent of plant species of the Park are protected under the Bern Convention and the Habitats Directive, the two major pieces of European nature conservation legislations.

Some interesting and protected plant species 1

Some interesting and protected plant species 2

Forest plant communities of Velebit 1

Forest plant communities of Velebit 2

Grassland plant communities of Velebit

Photo gallery of plants of the Northern Velebit National Park

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