NATURE AND THE ENVIRONMENT
The park's entire coastline is a Special Area of Conservation, which runs from the Llŷn Peninsula down the mid-Wales coast, the latter containing valuable sand dune systems.
A large proportion of the park is today under designation (or under consideration for designation) as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, national nature reserves, Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas, Biosphere and Ramsar sites.
Snowdonia's importance in the conservation of habitat and wildlife in the region reflects in the fact that nearly 20% of its total area is protected by UK and European law.
Half of that area was set aside by the government under the European Habitats Directive as a Special Area of Conservation.
The park's natural forests are of the mixed deciduous type, the commonest tree being the Welsh oak. Birch, ash, mountain-ash and hazel are also common.
The park also contains some large (planted) coniferous forested areas such as Gwydir Forest near Betws-y-Coed, although some areas, once harvested, are now increasingly being allowed to regrow naturally.
Northern Snowdonia is the only place in Britain where the Snowdon lily, an arctic–alpine plant, and the rainbow-coloured Snowdon beetle are found, and the only place in the world where the Snowdonia hawkweed grows.
One of the major problems facing the park in recent years has been the growth of Rhododendron ponticu. This fast-growing invasive species has a tendency to take over and stifle native species. It can form massive towering growths and has a companion fungus that grows on its roots producing toxins that are poisonous to any local flora and fauna for a seven-year period after the Rhododendron infestations have been eradicated. As a result, there are a number of desolate landscapes.
Rare mammals in the park include otters, polecats, and the feral goat.
Rare birds include raven, red-billed chough, peregrine, osprey, merlin and the red kite. Another of Snowdonia's famous inhabitants is the Snowdon or rainbow beetle.