Biodiversity in Serbia in numbers
The total number of known species in Serbia is 4,082. Serbia has 96 mammals, with 12 identified as threatened species; 238 breeding birds, with five identified as threatened species; 35 reptiles, with one identified as a threatened species; 10 amphibians and 125 fishes, with 10 identified as threatened species. Six hundred plant species and 270 animal species are under various categories of threat in Serbia (3). Species that are already threatened are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. It is estimated that c. 60% of the endemic plant species in Serbia are endangered for various reasons (2).
Climate change may lead to the following in Serbia (1):
- phenological changes (i.e., changes in the periodic plant and animal life cycle events, with considerable shifts in the migration, reproduction and hibernation periods of some species);
- changes in the morphology, physiology and behaviour of species;
- loss of existing habitats and emergence of the new ones that the species had not encountered before;
- changes in the number and distribution of species;
- increase in the number of vermin and diseases;
- genetic changes, followed by extinction of species unable to adjust to climate change and changes in the natural fish population (spawning and migration times).
A decline in biodiversity is directly attributed to a substantial loss of natural habitat due to expanding agriculture (particularly on the Pannonian plains) and the drainage of swamps and marshes. Marshes were drained and steppes were irrigated for agricultural crops. Degradation and loss of forest cover have increased in the past two decades due to illegal forest cutting, uncontrolled livestock grazing and forest fires. Complete destruction of the natural habitats and their replacement by artificial habitats has created unsuitable conditions for the survival of many plant and animal species (2).
Colonization of habitats by invasive alien species or the introduction of exotics could lead to increased competition for resources, negatively influencing survival and productivity of native species (2).
Gaps in information
Serbia faces significant gaps in information and uncertainties related to climate changes and their potential implication for biodiversity and ecosystem services. There is a lack of (2):
- documentation of already occurring impacts in response to existing climate trends;
- an understanding of factors affecting the distribution and abundance of species;
- analysis of species, ecosystems and regions most vulnerable to climate change;
- a comprehensive assessment of available adaptation options, including modifications needed for existing conservation planning and practice;
- analysis of present and future social and economic costs of climate change impacts on biodiversity;
- an understanding of factors determining the resilience and adaptive capacity of ecosystems.
Adaptation strategies in Serbia
Recommended adaptation strategies for Serbia are (1):
- Risk reduction. Risks may be reduced by a.o. increasing protected areas, ensuring corridors for the migration of species, and decreasing pressure of other anthropogenic factors to biodiversity;
- Policy and institutional framework. Climate change should be included in sector strategy and planning, and plans should be made focused on the protection of endangered species and ecosystems, and on increasing protected areas.
- Capacity building and public awareness. The scientific and research capacity, the private and public sector capacity, and the capacity of personnel in protected natural resources should be strengthened. The process of informing professionals and the general public on climate change impacts and possible adaptation options should be improved.
Measures to preserve biodiversity include (2):
- prevent further forest clearing;
- reduce agricultural land and wherever possible convert it into forest ecosystem;
- prevent loss and fragmentation of habitats;
- establish a connected, comprehensive ecological network of protected areas;
- preserve indigenous biodiversity through the network of protected areas (national parks, strict and special nature reserve, natural parks);
- conserve species ex situ that cannot survive future climate change;
- enable reintroduction of extinct species;
- prevent introduction of new invasive species and suppress the species likely to become invasive under climate change;
- increase resilience and prevent as many species as possible from becoming endangered;
- reduce risks of forest fires, especially in protected areas;
- reduce grazing in sensitive areas; in the case of remaining forest-steppe ecosystems, controlled grazing should be an appropriate measure for maintaining steppe habitats;
- reduce nutrient and sediment flows to rivers and wetlands;
- maintain bio-security.
Measures to facilitate long-term adaptation include (2):
- increase the connectivity in the landscape;
- rehabilitate degraded habitat, including re-vegetation of cleared land and restoration of streams, rivers and wetlands;
- preserve locations that may become key habitats under future climate change.
The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Serbia.
- The Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning of the Republic of Serbia (2010)
- Laušević et al. (2008)
- Stevanović and Vasić (1995), in: Laušević et al. (2008)