Serbia's terrain ranges from rich, fertile plains in the northern Vojvodina region to limestone ranges and river-basins in the east and mountains and hills in the southwest. The north is dominated by the Danube, while the basin of the Morava (one of Danube's largest tributaries) covers most of the mountainous Southern regions. Hilly-mountain terrains (above 500 m) cover 38.5 % of Serbia, one third of them being above 1000 m. On the basis of its topography, climate, land quality, farm production systems and socio-economic development, Serbia could be divided into three broad zones, namely the Vojvodina, Central Serbia and Southern Serbia.
The Vojvodina covers the northern third of the country and is entirely located within the Central European Pannonian Plain. Its climate is a continental one, with cold winters and hot, humid summers with well distributed rainfall patterns.
The Dinaric Alps, gradually rising towards the south, cover most of western and central Serbia; the central region also contains the final ranges of the Carpathians and a small area of the Wallachian plain.
Southern Serbia is the largest region, covering 44% of the territory, but is also the poorest. It contains the majority of Serbia?s mountains and is influenced by the Adriatic climate - it has hot, dry summers and autumns, and relatively cold winters with heavy snowfall inland.
Serbia hosts 39% of vascular flora and 40% of Europe?s bryophyte flora, 51% of fish fauna, 49% of reptiles and amphibians fauna, 74% of bird fauna and 67% of mammal species. Serbia is rich in endemic species of which the Balkan endemics are 287 species (8.06%) and the local endemics are 59 species (1.5%).
Serbia is also important as a wintering, resting and nesting/breeding ground for migrating animals (e.g. migratory birds, bats).
The areas under some nature protection regime in Serbia are 518 204 ha or 5,86% of its territory. There are 1032 protected natural assets and 463 protected areas (5 National parks, 16 Nature parks, 16 Landscapes of extraordinary characteristics, 72 Special nature reserves, 312 natural monuments and 42 areas of cultural and historic values).
There are 9 Ramsar sites in Serbia with a total area of 55 627 ha (0,63% of the territory): Obedska bara, Ludasko jezero, Stari Begej-Varska bara, Slano kopovo, Gornje podunavlje, Zasavica, Vlasina, Labudovo okno and Pestersko polje.
The only protected territory under UNESCO MAB Program is Nature Park Golija designated as Biosphere Reserve Golija-Studenica. Candidates are also Nature Park Stara Planina, special reserve Upper Danube valley, Obedska marsh, Djerdap and Tara National Parks, the Deliblato Sands special naturel reserve, and Kucaj Mt, Prokletije and Shara Planina.
Sixty-one (61) areas in Serbia are designated under the Emerald ecological network. Their total area is 755 884 ha (8,6% of the country's territory). The designated areas are particularly important for protection and conservation of wild plant and animal species and their habitats. The Emerald network is formally seen as preparation for the implementation of the EU Habitats Directive.
Natura 2000 sites
The development of a list of the potential Natura 2000 sites started under an EU funded Twining NATURA 2000 project. The process of identification of the sites is expected to finish at the end of 2011. The next step will be mapping of the Natura 2000 sites and preparation of the necessary database which Serbia will have to submit during the accession process.
Other designated areas
Sixty-one sites in Serbia have been designated as Important Plant Areas (IPA).
The Important Bird Areas (IBA) are 42 and cover a total area of 12 596 km².
The Prime Butterfly Areas (PBA) are 40 and cover a total area of 9 036 km².
Agriculture and Farming
Serbia is country of big differences, both in terms of land quality and farm production systems, and socio-economic level of development. This is particularly evident in a comparison between the developed rural areas of Vojvodina Province and the marginalized mountainous rural areas of central Serbia.
Agricultural land covers approximately 5.109.177 ha (66% of total area) of this arable land and gardens are 3.3 million ha (65%), orchards 242 000 ha; and vineyards 58 000 ha. Permanent grasslands cover 1.45 million ha or 28% of the agricultural land. Grasslands in Serbia are both natural and semi-natural. Forests cover around 30% of the country's territory. Farm size in Serbia is generally smaller than the average farm size in many other European countries. There are about 778,900 agricultural households (2002 Census), owning c. 80% of the agricultural land, with an average size of 25 ha of arable land (and 3.6 ha of other agricultural land, including 1.1 ha of pastures, meadows and orchards), fragmented into an average of 4 plots per farm. Over 75% of private farms have an area of less than 5 ha (2002 Census) and less than 5% have more than 10 ha. Because of their small size, most of these farms produce for their own household consumption and market only a small proportion of their output.
Serbian agriculture and environment are closely linked with the natural resources, traditional farming landscapes and biodiversity of the rural areas. Agricultural production systems have become broadly regionally differentiated:
- a crop-farming and livestock-raising region which includes lowlands and flat areas in river valleys;
- a mixed farming region: livestock-raising and fruit- and/or wine-growing region extending over rolling and hilly land with different climates and soils (this region suffers considerable erosion);
- a livestock-raising region which includes mountain areas where the dominant resource is semi-natural and natural grasslands.
Serbia is a potential candidate country for EU accession following the Thessaloniki European Council of June 2003. Serbia submited its application for EU membership in December 2009.
Serbia developed a Draft National Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 and a draft IPARD programme.
Common and communal pasture
Common pastures are a significant element in HNV farming in Serbia. More information can be found in this document.