Eco Travel in Greece (Intro)
An overview of wildlife in Greece
Greece is a small country -
with a very wide range of habitat -
and low tourism away from beach resorts
Greece possesses 12 National Parks and dense forests of conifers, high snow capped mountains, marshes, wetlands, deltas, lagoons, large lakes, and rolling land with large rivers winding through fertile valleys. All in a country the size Alabama.
Obviously Greece is blessed in terms of its geography, and far more varied than many visitors realize since 80% of foreign visitors limit their travels only to the islands and seaside.
Most have no idea that there are very lush, green areas in Greece. Greece has much more to offer the visitor than just beautiful beaches.
Aside from the beauty of such places, one can visit some of them in the middle of summer, even in August, and see very few tourists if any.
For hikers and for nature enthusiasts of all stripes, particularly for those who love beautiful scenery, much of Greece offers literally years of fruitful and pleasurable exploring. For a country about one quarter of the size of France or Spain, Greece is truly amazing, as is its extensive flora and fauna.
Greece boasts extensive flora and fauna
Almost 6000 species of native flowers grow in Greece, with perhaps as much as one eighth of these growing only in Greece, a very high level of 'endemism' unmatched in Europe. It is also the case that there are more species of flower for the relatively small area occupied by Greece than anywhere else in Europe. Many areas of Greece have spectacular displays of wildflowers in spring, which will be mentioned in the descriptions of those areas.
425 species of birds have been counted, of which 243 species breed regularly within the country, 141 of which are of especial concern as to survival, four of them threatened with extinction globally: the Dalmatian pelican, lesser kestrel, Audouin's gull, and ferruginous duck.
Four more are nearly in this category as well. The largest population of Dalmatian pelicans is in Greece, which also breed there, as do the Eleanora's falcon, with about 2/3 of the world's population breeding in Greece. 232 species of butterflies and about 68 species of reptiles and amphibians are found in Greece.
The latter is quite an impressive number, as it exceeds the number in either France or Spain, both around four times the size of Greece. Two indigenous species are the Milos viper, occurring on only four island in the western Cyclades, and the Milos wall lizard, similarly distributed.
116 species of mammals have been recorded in Greece, though many have small populations. There are also still brown bears and wolves in parts of northern Greece, and the largest numbers of monk seals in the Mediterranean, though they are very endangered. That they survive at all is a testimony to the energy and vigilance of animal conservation organizations who do continuous battle with the tourist industry and the Greek government to see that these creatures have somewhere left to give birth to their young under conditions tolerable to them. Other mammals include the gold jackal (its main European population in Greece, though said, at least a few years ago, to be declining), the kri-kri, an indigenous Cretan wild goat, and the Cretan spiny mouse.