The Republic of Croatia is one of the rare countries not only in Europe that because of its specific geographical position is thriving with abundance and diversity of its terrestrial, marine and underground habitats while its special advantage is the level of preservation and wealth of species and subspecies with a significant number of endemics.
Due to its specific position, characteristic ecological, climatic and geomorphological conditions and a large number of different habitat types, the Republic of Croatia is the centre of endemics of south-eastern Europe. Out of the total number of known plant taxa, 5.65% is endemic. The number of known taxa (species and subspecies) in Croatia is around 38,000 and it is assumed that the number is much higher, from 50,000 to more than 100,000 because every year new unknown species and subspecies are discovered.
A significant part of populations of many species threatened at the European level can be found in Croatia. Vast mountain beech and fir forests are the habitats of large populations of three large carnivores inhabiting the Croatian territory (bear, wolf and lynx). Wetland complexes with alluvial forests are important nesting, wintering and migration sites for European waterfowl and for wetland birds nesting in forests. The wealth of marine biodiversity, in combination with the immense diversity of islands and cliffs with a large number of endemic life forms, gives the Croatian coastal area special international significance. Furthermore, in comparison with European forests, the conservation level of Croatian forests is extremely high. As much as 95% of the forests, in terms of their tree composition, are completely natural, which is rare and extremely valuable, even on the global scale.
The distinctiveness and wealth of biodiversity stem from the rich array of genetic diversity and abundance of genetic resources.
The protection of genetic diversity also includes the conservation of indigenous taxa, original varieties of cultivated plants and domesticated breeds which are adjusted to our climate, more resistant to disease and nested in nature and landscape. These taxa are also a genetic reservoir, an important component of genetic and cultural heritage and as such represent the national cultural heritage.
From its independence, the Republic of Croatia has taken care of genetic resources and this may be exhibited by the fact that in the last two decades not one breed has become extinct.
Today the care for plant genetic resources which we use in food and agriculture is organised mostly through plant gene banks. Croatia has established its system of plant bank genes and agricultural plants in line with its needs and capacities, whilst taking account of heritage.
Additional information on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and related issues can be found at the following link Croatian Biosafety Portal.