Human threats

The distribution of plants reflects the human action: agriculture, burning, grazing by domestic animals. Once, the oak-dominated forests covered the whole Kosovo, before having been almost entirely cleared for agriculture, since the 60’s particularly :

→ The forest represents 40% of Kosovo, but only a third is considered to be ecologically healthy or productive for forestry production: the ²/3 of the forest is composed by immature trees periodically cut to produce firewood. This practice has increased consequently during the war in rural areas because of restrictions (for cooking and heating). As a result:

– The cost of firewood in Kosovo is almost the highest in Europe.

– Alpine and sub-alpine ecosystems are fragile and full of rare species: the alpine meadow vegetation is modified for summer grazing, and the sub-alpine vegetation is burned for expanding the size of the pastures.

– Specie associations are affected by illegal construction of homes

– Oak forests are dying, we don’t know if it is because o diseases or because of environmental factors.

– Enormous impact of air pollution;

⇒ Today, several species are at risk of extinction in Kosovo, or already locally extinct, especially because of intense collection of species used for the pharmaceutical industry.

Some examples :

– Griffin Vulture maybe extinct, some waterbirds became rare in lasts decades (Eurasian spoonbill). Because of human disturbance and wetland drainage, waterfowl stopped to stop and breed in Kosovo. Birds of prey are increasingly rare. Conspicuous birds native from steppes and plains also disappeared.

– Fish in rivers are drastically reduced as the result of sand and gravel mining, domestic waste and industrial pollution. The trout, the most well-known river fish, is very intolerant of disturbance and pollution and now survive in stretches of rivers above population centers