Velebit has long been recognized for its exceptional natural beauty and biodiversity. Within UNESCO’s programme (MAB) (MAB – Man and Biosphere ), the Velebit Mountain was included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves in 1978. Three years later the entire Velebit area was designated a nature park. Within it there are two national parks– the Paklenica National Park in the south (designated in 1949), and the Northern Velebit National Park in the north (designated half a century later).
Established in 1999, Northern Velebit is the youngest of eight national parks in Croatia. This part of the Velebit Mountain is a true patchwork of the most diverse habitats that are home to countless plant, fungus and animal species – a wealth that is yet to be explored in its entirety. It is this diversity of kart formations, wildlife and landscape, to a large extent created by man, which was the main reason for setting up the Northern Velebit National Park.
Northern Velebit National Park encompasses several areas protected earlier: Hajdučki i Rožanski Kukovi, strict reserve, the Visibaba botanical reserve – home to the endemic species Croatian sibirea, and the Zavižan-Balinovac-Velika kosa botanical reserve which houses the well-known Velebit Botanical Garden, which has been listed as a monument of landscape architecture.
Due to its exceptional worth the Northern Velebit National Park has been included in the National Ecological Network and is listed in the proposal of the future Natura 2000 network of protected areas.
Northern Velebit National Park is also member of the European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) network, being the national winner in the category „Tourism and Protected Areas“.
Northern Velebit National Park, together with Paklenica National Park and Velebit Nature Park, has been included in five European pilot-areas as part of the Rewilding Europe project.