Olympus is known all over the world, apart from its mythology, for its fauna and flora, since it is considered as one of the top-ranking and most rare ecosystems on earth, which are under the protection of the international community. The National Park has a diversity of more than 1.800 species of plants, 23 of which – mainly flowers – grow only on the gods’ mountain and nowhere else on the planet. There is also a wide range of fauna, however many of the mammals and birds of prey are endangered species. The global value of the natural heritage of Olympus has been acknowledged by UNESCO, which has incorporated it, since 1981, in the Biosphere World Reserves ecosystems, which belong to the world heritage. The European Union has also included Olympus in the “Important for its Bird-fauna Areas of the European Community”.
The National Park of Olympus, which was the first to be established in Greece (1937) and one of the oldest ones in the world. Its foundation aimed at the conservation of the natural environment, the fauna and the flora of the Park, through human interference.
The core of the National Park occupies an area of 44.500 1,000m2, on the eastern side of the mountain, enclosing Enipeas river and the gully of Mavrologgos, beginning at an altitude of 600m, reaching up the Skolio – Mytikas – Stefani ridge.
The flowers of Olympus are renowned, the mountain being a famous place of study for botanists from all over the world.
The flowers of Olympus are identified by the international names, which are registered in the European Flora list (Flora Europaea). A registered sign of the mountain is a purple flower, Jankaea Heldreichii, which grows among the rocks and can only be found on Olympus. It was named after the pioneer German botanist Th. von Heldreich, who discovered several plants during their excursions on Olympus, in mid 19th century. Many of the mountain’s endemic flowers were given by researcher botanists the names of places and mythological characters of Olympus, in order to emphasize their unique origin. As a result, wondering around on Olympus, especially early in the summer, one can meet gods’ Potentilla (Potentilla Deorum), Dionysus` Silini (Silene Dionysii), Erussimo the Olympic (Erysimum Olympicum), Ligoustiko the Olympic (Ligusticum Olympicum), Veroniki the Thessalic (Veronica Thessalica), Centavria of Litohoron (Centaurea Litochorea), Poa the Thessalic (Poa Thessala) and others.
Olympus’ fauna is rich, although the bears and deers, which existed in the past, have been gone and the few renowned royal eagles are endangered with extinction, these birds which had been glorified by the traditional muse.
Almost all the mammals of the Greek forests can be found on Olympus, such as wolves (canis lupus), boars (capreolus capreolus), jackals (canis aureus), wild goats (rupicarta rupicarta), foxes (vulpes vulpes), wild boars (sus scrofa), badgers (meles meles), ferrets (martes foina), weasels (mustela nivalis), hares (lepus europaeus), squirrels (sciurus vulgaris) and others.
Several species of birds can be found on the slopes, the gullies and the clearings of Olympus. Birds of prey [golden eagles (aquila chrisaetos), royal eagles (hieraaetus pennatus), harrier eagles (gypaetus barbatus), vultures (gyps fulvus), peregrines (falco peregrinus), falcons (falconidae), falco biarmicus, buteo buteo, partridges, thrushes, cuckoos, horn-owls, bee-eaters, blackbirds (turdus merula), nightingales (luscinia megarynchos), orioles, woodpeckers (picidae), ravens (corvus corax) and others.
All species of Mediterranean reptiles live on Olympus (snakes, lizards, tortoises), a great variety of insects and the famous butterflies of Olympus which are worth watching at early summer, close to the gullies. Fortunately, conservation measures have recently deterred the multinational collectors from catching the Olympic butterfly.