In spite of Slovakia being a rather small country it boasts very diverse natural conditions and a great variety of both fauna and flora species. There are almost all European habitats (excluding Mediterranean vegetation types and sea shore habitats) present on the territory of Slovakia. Forest cover exceeds 41 % (cadastre records data, actual forest cover is several per cent higher). Forests are predominantly semi-natural or artificial. Despite this fact they are rather well-preserved. From the European point of view, Slovakia is also country rich in remnants of primeval forests (habitats otherwise very rare in Europe) . Category of agricultural land also features some well-preserved grasslands and alpine meadows. Wetlands are quite rare, but there are several sites of the European importance to be found between them.
From the altitudinal point of view, Slovak vegetation is divided into several altitudinal vegetation zones ranging from the oakwoods in the lowest altitudes to the alpine meadows and bare rock habitats high up the mountains. There is no zone of the permanent snow cover present in Slovakia.
Soils are also very diverse, they include types ranging from chernozems (in the lowlands) to podzols and crysols (in the mountains). Volcanic bedrocks have given origin to black soils called andosols (name derived from the Japanese word an-do).
Fauna: Natural conditions of Slovakia provide favourable habitats for the majority of fauna species originally to be present in Europe, including large carnivoras such as:
- brown bear (Ursus arctos) - Slovakia harbours the largest population of brown bear among countries of the Western a and central Europe
- gray wolf (Canis lupus) - this species had become extinct at the beginning of industrial era, but he came back during the World War II pushed by the front. Since this time it survives in the Slovak forests
- common lynx (Lynx lynx)
which have gradually become completely extinct in the countries of Western Europe.
Other rare fauna species include:
- chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra tatrica) - the only endemic subspecies of larger animals to be found in Slovakia. This subspecies differs from the alpine chamois subspecies not only by the anatomy but also by its behavioural patterns: it permanently settles the areas above the tree line, areas far more hostile than those where alpine subspecies typically occurs.
- alpine marmot (Marmota marmota) - a large rodent occuring in the mountains together with the chamois
- wisent (Bison bonasus) - it has become extinct throughout the Europe except for the Bieloweza forest in Poland. At present, a special breeding programme to secure the future of this species in Slovakia is in place in Topolcianky. Occassionally, also "genuine" wild wisents can be spotted in Slovakia roaming to our territory from Poland.
- birds of prey - there are several endangered species surviving on the territory of Slovakia such as golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), greater spotted eagle (Aquila clanga), imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), also several other falcon species, white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), osprey (Pandion haliaetus), harriers Circus (3 species) and many other species.
- capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) - the largest grouse species in Slovakia
- European black grouse (Lyrurus tetrix)
- Great bustard (Otis tarda)
- black stork (Ciconia nigra), etc.
Characteristic common species include: red deer (Cervus elaphus), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), european hare (Lepus europaeus), Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), white stork (Ciconia alba)
Flora: to be continued soon