This monks' republic, administratively autonomous within Greece, has not been grazed during a near-millenium, and has been little impacted by other human activities, much of the terrain rugged and often inaccessible away from the twenty monasteries that control the peninsula.
The many trees belong to Mediterranean and sub-Mediterranean forest, and include wild olive, chestnut, bay, kermes, holm, and downy oaks, among others. Rare species of plants grow on Mt. Athos itself, including orchids, which is at the southern end of the peninsula, and which rise to 2033 meters (6668 feet). Breeding eagles (golden and short-toed), eagle owls and Eleanora's falcons are found on the peninsula, and coastal birds such as Andouin's gulls and shearwaters, near the southern coasts.
Mammals include red fox, wild cat, roe deer, wild boar, martens, badgers, weasels, and the monk seal (a rare and threatened species). It might be mentioned here (though fairly well-known) that the peninsula is accessible only to males 18 and over, and only with special permission, and has been this way since an edict passed in 1060 AD by a Byzantine emporer. Even female farm animals are banned, though luckily, the wildlife on the mountain is exempted from the ancient edict by a higher authority.