Natural heritage - flora and fauna
Istra has succeeded in preserving a clean environment and balanced space. The largest Croatian peninsula abounds with untouched green oases and romantic coves, however it also conceals within itself many undiscovered corners. By the sea grassy, pebbly, rocky and stone slate beaches, while the shade of the pines often extends to the sea. In the interior, river tributaries, lakes, waterfalls, precipices, caves, luxuriant forests rich with wild fruits, hills and mountain plains…The animal world is also diverse and so too is the underwater and terrestrial world.
The Brijuni archipelago with surrounding underwater world enjoys the status of being the only Istrian National Park (www.np-brijuni.hr) and due to the luxurious flora and fauna and cultural-historical heritage it is ranked among the more beautiful Mediterranean archipelago. The Brijuni are comprised of two larger and 12 smaller islands. The mild Mediterranean climate, an abundance of sunny days and pleasant air temperature were favourable for the growth of hundreds of plant varieties. About a hundred years ago the Brijuni botanical gardens began to settle animals from various regions of the world so that in 1912 zoological gardens were founded. Today the Brijuni, among other things, are a habitat for various bird species, deer, mouflon and other wild game. The island Veliki Brijuni is also adorned by a thousand year old olive tree, Roman diggings, safari park, dinosaur footprints…
The mountain massif Učka, with the highest peak in Istra (Vojak, 1,396 metres), hides a real treasure trove of protected plant and animal species, so that it has been declared a Nature park (www.pp-ucka.hr). With alpine and sub-Mediterranean plants, which also include medicinal plants, the top of Učka is a true flora mecca. The Učka mountain ridge is the only habitat of the Učka zvončić (plant with lilac-blue bell shaped flowers) in the world. Colourful butterflies, a variety of insects and amphibians, eagles, chamois, deer, does, foxes, rabbits and bears are only some of the animals living in these mountains. Učka also has more than one hundred speleological facilities – mostly pits and caverns.
The protected Kamenjak Cape (www.natura-histrica.hr), this unusual indented southern most cape, is interesting not only because of its nearly 500 plant species but also because of its beautiful coves, “wild” beaches, clean sea and attractive underwater world. The marsh Palud is an ornithological reserve just outside of Rovinj in which more than 200 bird species live and so it is an ideal place for bird watching enthusiasts. Due to its attractive 11 kilometre long cut into the land the Lim channel is one of the most beautiful Istrian protected landscapes and because of its rich marine fauna its underwater world has been declared a special marine reserve. It is the most well known farm of shellfish and fish in Istra. The Pazin pit, with its caves, lakes and hundred metre high sheer rocks is very impressing – the great Jules Verne actually described it in one of his novels.
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