Montenegro is located in Southeastern Europe and belongs to the Western Balkan group of countries. The total territory of the country is 13 812 km² out of which 37% is agricultural land (mostly pastures and meadows) and 42% - forests.
The natural conditions in Montenegro are characterised by large hilly and mountainous areas with distinctive relief and only small areas of lowland. The highest mountain is Durmitor, 2522 m. The Adriatic Sea coastline is 293.5 km long.
The climate in Montenegro changes from Mediterranean to sub-continental and continental in a very short distance and is influenced by the proximity of the Adriatic Sea and local relief.
In general, the climate is characterised by a short, humid winter with intensive snowfall in the mountains, and a hot, dry summer. In terms of EU biogeographical zones, the country is almost evenly divided between the Mediterranean and the Alpine, illustrating the great contrast in physical conditions within a very short distance.
The population density of 45.4 inhabitants per km² is one of the lowest in Europe.
Montenegro's diversity of geology, landscapes, climate types and soils, and its position on the Balkan Peninsula and Adriatic Sea, have created conditions for the development of a highly diverse biodiversity, making Montenegro one of the biodiversity "hot-spots" of Europe and the world.
The national network of the protected areas currently covers 124 964.24 ha, or 9% of the territory of Montenegro. The largest share (101 733 ha or 7,77%) is comprised of five national parks: Durmitor, Skadar Lake, Lovcen, Biogradska gora and Prokletije. The remaining part includes over 40 protected areas within the following categories: monument of nature; region of special natural features, and (general and special) reserves.
A significant part of the territory is internationally protected. Durmitor National Park with the canyon of the river Tara is a UNESCO World Natural and Cultural Heritage site. The Tara river basin is a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve site. Skadar Lake National Park is a Ramsar site.
The total nationally (124 964,24 ha) and internationally (143 594 ha) designated areas cover 268 558,24 ha (excluding duplication and overlapping areas) which represents 19.44% of the state territory.
The development of the Emerald network in Montenegro started in 2005. Currently it includes 32 sites covering 240 077 ha.
Work on establishing Ecological Network Natura 2000 started in 2009 and is based on the Emerald data base .
Other designated areas
IBAs. There are 5 Important Bird Areas (IBA) in Montenegro.
IPAs. There are 27 Important Plant Areas (IPAs) covering a total area of 708 606 ha.
PBAs. There are 5 Primary Butterfly Areas (PBAs) currently proposed in Montenegro.
Agriculture and Farming
Agriculture as a primary sector represents 11% of the GDP in Montenegro. In 2009, the agricultural land covers 516 070 ha (37% of the country?s territory) and forests are 586 309 ha (42%). Overall, agriculture is highly diversified ? from olive and citrus growing in the coastal strip, vegetables and vine growing in the central part to the extensive livestock breeding particularly in the northern part.
The agricultural land is dominated by pastures (324 531ha) and meadows (126 931 ha) which combined areas represents 87% of the total agriculture land in the country.
Arable land and household gardens cover 45 673 ha (less than 9% of total). At the same time it is slowly decreasing (around 2% since 2005) mostly due to urbanization and construction of infrastructure facilities. On the other hand, the area of orchards (11 899 ha) and vineyards (4 386 ha) is slowly increasing by 7% and 9% respectively.
Agriculture is mostly labour intensive and in the last decades plays a role of a social buffer. It is the main or significant source of income for about 50,000 rural households. Farming practices are very extensive, characterised by a low level of mechanization and/or chemicals use. In the contemporary conditions it is considered as a barrier to market competitiveness. However, the traditional and extensive characteristics are also considered as an opportunity for organic production and marketing of environmentally-friendly products. These often conflicting development approaches (market competitiveness vs. environmentally-friendly) are trying to be balanced by the Montenegrin agricultural policy.
Montenegro is a candidate country for EU membership since December 2010.
The country has prepared a National program for food production and rural development 2009-2013 and is under preparation of its IPARD programme.
Common and communal pasture
Common pastures are a significant element in HNV farming in Montenegro. More information can be found in this document.