Slovenia’s biodiversity is evident: although it comprises just 0.004% of the Earth’s surface, it is home to more than 1% of all living creatures, and more than 2% of land and freshwater creatures. Slovenia is the third-most forested country in Europe. The forests are home to edible wild mushrooms, and a large population of bears, who generally avoid humans.
About 60% of the country is covered by deciduous and coniferous forests. There is virgin forest in Kočevski Rog just 60 kilometres from the capital city. Slovenia’s forests are healthy, and felling is carefully regulated. Each year more than a million new trees are planted. The forests are home to numerous forest crops and fruits that people like to forage. Edible wild mushrooms flourish between spring and autumn, while the summer brings fruits like blueberries and wild strawberries, and the autumn brings wild chestnuts. The plant biodiversityis exceptional, partly because over a third of Slovenia’s territory is protected and is included in Europe’s Natura 2000 network of protected areas. Other species grow in areas where there is no forest, such as shrubland and grassland. The plant species include many endangered and protected flowers, particularly in the mountains. Picking flowers is therefore not allowed in the mountains of Slovenia, while in general there is no problem in picking a small bunch in the forests and grasslands.
A number of crops grow well in Slovenia. There is fertile soil in the east of the country in particular, and in the plains along river valleys, andagriculture is thus well-developed. The sunny slopes of many hills in the south and west of the country are ideal for vines. Others turn their hands to orchards.
The animal kingdom
To make contact with wild animals in Slovenia you need only go to the edge of the forest, just outside the towns. There are plenty of roe deer in the forests, and they wander close to the towns and villages. There is a good chance of seeing a smaller animal of some type, such as a squirrel. The brown bear also lives in Slovenia’s forests. As they range throughout the forests as far as Bosnia and Herzegovina, their actual number is not known, but it is estimated that about 700 bears live in Slovenia. As of the last decade they are no longer endangered, but it is nevertheless rare that individuals are shot. Bears generally prefer to avoid humans, and your chance of encountering a bear in the wild is extremely slim. Many other very rare and endangered animal species inhabit the forests, such as the wolf, the lynx, the wildcat, thecapercaillie and the pheasant. These are all protected. The ibex is also protected, and can be seen in the mountains. Slovenia’s rivers, lakes and coastal waters are home to a diversity of species. Alongside numerous fish species, some clean rivers are still inhabited by freshwater crayfish, which are highly endangered. Many bird species nest in Slovenia, while it is also a vital habitat for migratory species. The landscape parks are the best place to see large numbers of birds.