Europe - plant life
The coastal areas of the Arctic Ocean in northernmost Scandinavia
and Russia belong to the species-poor and uniform Arctic tundra
region. The vegetation is dominated by creeping dwarf shrubs,
semi-grasses, mosses and lichens, many with a circumpolar
distribution. The European part of the boreal coniferous forest
area, the taiga, includes Scandinavia to the south approximately to
the Dalälven, most of Finland as well as large parts of Russia.
Here, spruce and pine forests dominate, and large areas are covered
by bogs. The forest border is formed by birch, which in southern
Norway reaches up to approximately 1200 m, in Lapland to
approximately 700 m. In the Scandinavian mountain range, many
species have Arctic or Arctic-alpine distribution; the latter also
occur in the Central European mountains, but are lacking in the
intermediate lowlands. About 30 species are Greenlandic-American and
may have survived the ice ages on refuges in western and northern
Mixed coniferous and deciduous forests cover southern Sweden
approximately to Scania, the Baltic states and Belarus. This zone
merges to the south into the western and central European deciduous
forest area, the nemoral zone, which is dominated by beech, oak, elm
and hornbeam. European deciduous forests are generally poorer in
tree species than similar areas in North America and East Asia,
which is probably a consequence of the short time period in which
they have been able to migrate after the last ice age.
In the Central European mountain regions, ie. In the Alps, the
Pyrenees and the Carpathians, the deciduous forest is replaced by
montan coniferous forest with spruce, pine, European larch and
spruce. Here, the tree line is often formed by mountain pine and
green electricity. Higher up, in the alpine zone, there are
flower-rich meadows with many locally widespread species, including
in the bell and alliance families.
Areas from western Norway to Portugal with an extreme coastal
climate are partly naturally deforested and characterized by heath
vegetation with heather, species of bell heather, certain and thorn
leaf. Due to the mild winters, there are a number of species that
are predominantly found in the Mediterranean region, such as
strawberry trees, which are widespread in the north to the south of
England and Ireland.
A mosaic of forest steppe forms the transition to the grass
steppes of Ukraine and southern Russia with a western spur in the
Hungarian puszta. The long drought in late summer is thought to be
the main reason why the steppe is naturally forestless.
The Mediterranean area forms a clearly demarcated plant
geographical region characterized by evergreen shrubs, bulbous and
tuberous plants as well as many annual species. Originally, large
parts of the area were covered by pine forest or evergreen oak
forest, which has now for the most part been transformed into scrub:
maki and garrigue. In mountainous areas, the evergreen scrub forest
is replaced by deciduous forest, real chestnut and oak, while pine
or spruce often form the forest boundary.
In Europe there are approximately 12,000 species of seedlings.
The Mediterranean countries are the richest in species; Spain, Italy
and Greece each have more than 5000 species. Plants with limited
local distribution, endemics, are largely missing north of the Alps,
but are numerous on islands and mountains in the Mediterranean; in
Greece is approximately 740 species endemic to the country.
Europe - wildlife
Europe, together with North Africa, the Middle East and temperate
and Arctic Asia, forms the Palaearctic region or subregion, and
there is no clear animal geographical boundary between Europe and
these neighboring areas. This is reflected in the fact that although
there are numerous species and genera of animals that are only found
in Europe, this only applies to a few, small groups of higher rank,
e.g. certain families of millipedes. The majority of vertebrate
species are found both in Europe and in Europe's neighboring areas.
There are sharp differences between the relatively species-rich
fauna in the Mediterranean area and the southern European mountains,
The Alps and the Pyrenees, and the far poorer northern European
fauna, which has an Arctic character in the far north. During the
last ice ages, large parts of Europe were frozen, and most animal
species became extinct or displaced to refuges around the
Mediterranean or in eastern Siberia. When the ice receded, the
animals could migrate north, respectively, in step with the
vegetation. west, but many species, both plants and animals, have
simply not had time to colonize the entire area in which they could
Humans have also played a crucial role in Europe's wildlife.
Man's impact on nature has been more prolonged and pervasive here
than most other places on the planet. The living conditions of the
animals have changed radically, especially the large,
space-consuming species such as bears, wolves and bison, which are
now only found in inaccessible areas and in greatly reduced numbers,
while e.g. wild horses, aurochs and lions.is completely extinct. The
freshwater fauna also has cramped conditions due to pollution. In
turn, human impact has provided improved living conditions for
species associated with the open arable land, although modern
economies of scale have meant a secondary impoverishment of this
Although part of Europe's current wildlife can thus be said to be
human, only a relatively few species have actually been brought to
Europe by humans. This applies to muskrats, raccoons and Colorado
beetles, which have been introduced respectively. brought in from
North America, as well as the East Asian pheasant. On the other
hand, numerous European animal species have been introduced or
introduced to other regions with a comparable climate, such as North
America, Australia and New Zealand. In total, there are in Europe
approximately 180 species of mammals, almost 500 species of breeding
birds, approximately 50 species of amphibians and close to 85
species of reptiles.
Europe - climate
Europe's climate varies from polar climates in the northernmost
regions over temperate climates to subtropical climates in the
Mediterranean region. The precipitation is in most places evenly
distributed throughout the year, but the Mediterranean area has
The polar regions have summer temperatures below 10 °C (average
for the warmest month), and the growth period is so short that only
hardy grasses, mosses and lichens can grow, as well as shrubs such
as dwarf birch and polar willow. In addition to the Scandinavian
mountains and the northernmost part of Iceland, Norway and Russia,
the highest parts of the Alps and the Pyrenees have a polar climate.
Fjeldmark and tundra are replaced in the temperate climate zone
by coniferous forest and the more heat-demanding deciduous forest.
The western part of this climate zone is characterized by air masses
from the sea, which provide a coastal climate with relatively cool
summers and mild winters. In contrast, Eastern Europe has a distinct
continental climate with hot summers and very cold winters.
In the subtropical zone, which encircles the Mediterranean, the
precipitation in summer is so sparse in relation to the high
temperatures that the natural plant growth becomes maki, which is an
evergreen scrub vegetation that can withstand drought.
western Europe's weather is characterized by moist air masses with
migratory cyclones (low pressure systems) that move from the
Atlantic Ocean across the continent throughout the year. The fronts
of the cyclones are the cause of most of the precipitation that
falls evenly throughout the year. The cyclones usually occur in
summer at Newfoundland and then move close past Iceland in a mostly
northeastern orbit across Europe. In winter, cyclones often move
further south, causing winter rain over the Mediterranean.
Eastern Europe is increasingly characterized by continental air
masses, which contribute to the large temperature differences
between summer and winter.
Most of Europe has an annual rainfall of between 500 and 1000 mm.
Larger amounts of precipitation fall especially on the west-facing
coasts and mountain slopes. This applies to the Norwegian mountains
(Bergen, 2150 mm), Western Scotland and the coastal parts of the
Iberian Peninsula. Areas located on the eastern side of the mountain
ranges receive less rainfall; at least get SE-Spain with less than
In most places, the combination of heat and precipitation in
summer is suitable for agriculture, and only by the Mediterranean is
irrigation a necessity. In many places, however, the natural
rainfall is supplemented by irrigation; it can be useful in the
regularly recurring situations where stable summer high pressures
over Western Europe for several weeks can block the cyclone tracks
from the Atlantic and cause drought.