With 29.1% of its territory covered by forest, Serbia is considered to be a middle-forested country, compared on a global scale to world forest coverage at 30%, and European average of 35%. The total forest area in Serbia is 2,252,000 hа (1,194,000 hа or 53% are state-owned, and 1,058,387 hа or 47% are privately owned) or 0.3 ha per inhabitant. The most common trees are oak, beech, pines and firs.
Serbia is a country of rich ecosystem and species diversity – covering only 1.9% of the whole European territory Serbia is home to 39% of European vascular flora, 51% of European fish fauna, 40% of European reptile and amphibian fauna, 74% of European bird fauna, 67% European mammal fauna. Its abundance of mountains and rivers make it an ideal environment for a variety of animals, many of which are protected including wolves, lynx, bears, foxes and stags.
Mountain of Tara in western Serbia is one of the last regions in Europe where bears can still live in absolute freedom.Serbia is also home to about 380 species of bird, including the imperial eagle, the great bustard, the corn crake and the Madagascar pochard. In Carska Bara, there are over 300 bird species on just a few square kilometers. Uvac Gorge is considered one of the last habitats of the griffon vulture in Europe.
There are 377 protected areas of Serbia, encompassing 4,947 square kilometers or 6.4% of the country. The “Spatial plan of the Republic of Serbia” states that the total protected area should be increased to 12% by 2021. Those protected areas include 5 national parks (Đerdap, Tara, Kopaonik, Fruška Gora and Šar Mountain), 15 nature parks, 15 “landscapes of outstanding features”, 61 nature reserves, and 281 natural monuments.
Air pollution is a significant problem in Bor area, due to work of large copper mining and smelting complex, and Pančevo where oil and petrochemical industry is based. Some cities suffer from water supply problems, due to mismanagement and low investments in the past, as well as water pollution (like the pollution of the Ibar River from the Trepča zinc-lead combinate, affecting the city of Kraljevo, or the presence of natural arsenic in underground waters in Zrenjanin).
Poor waste management has been identified as one of the most important environmental problems in Serbia and the recycling is a fledgling activity, with only 15% of its waste being turned back for reuse. The 1999 NATO bombing caused serious damage to the environment, with several thousand tons of toxic chemicals stored in targeted factories and refineries released into the soil and water basins.
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