General information on the vegetation, flora and fauna of the various environments along the route

The itinerary of the Alta Via delle Dolomiti n.1, as envisaged and described by Piero Rossi, consents, thanks also to the numerous variants, not only to enjoy the wonderful panoramas from the legendary Dolomite summits, but also to appreciate the suggestive stretches of nature, wild or formed by historical events of man. The dolomite landscape would not provoke the wonder and awe for which it is universally famous if the green of its woods or pastures, or the splendid blosoming in the mirads of mircoenvironments which characterize it did not form a togetherness a 'oneness' with the geological features and the reliefs created by the glacial erosion. It is by no way by chance that the Alta Via n.1 crosses three protected areas, a Parco Nazionale (a National Park/Dolomiti Bellunesi) and two Naturali Regionali (regional natural areas, Sennès-Fànes-Bràies, tended by the Bolzano Region and that of the Dolomiti d'Ampezzo 'a jewel ' which is looked after by the Ampezzan Regole).
To these environments, already adequately protected, we must certainly add, to underline the extraordinary environmental merit, other surroundings which are not imcluded in the park areas, (for example, the Riserva del Delmo) which is however for the most part, among the areas already identified by the SIC, that is, siti di Interesse Communitario (public interest sites) in which one should respect certain simple rules to consent adequate protection regarding the naturalistic values which represent, in short, the main attraction and the true 'capitale' to defend.

 
 

The itinerary winds across the most charming and stimulating landscape always high altitude, with rare stops near the limits of the woods in order to book accomodation (depending on which variant is chosen).
Particular timing and precautions are necessary to observe the fauna, (wildlife) in these areas but it seems impossible to be so ulucky as not to come across deer or marmots or not to observe colonies of alpine cloughs.

 
 

It is also very possible to meet the mimetic and evading white Lagopus Mutus (snow grouse), while it is less frequent but not impossible (depending on the season and weather conditions) to see the royal eagle swooping and perceiving the sight of a Lyrurus Tetrix (heath cock/pheasant). But for those whose objective is not only to reach the summit or a refuge in a established time, the possibilities are various and never disappointing. Also among the detritus(land deposits), on the most inaccessible screes or in rocky niches, the life of numerous species of insects, molusks, and other invertebrates often endemical and of great biogeographical value.
It is not necessary to stop long, or choose special timing, to admire the beauty of the flora, often also rare, aboveall in the protected areas. In any case, even if the specis are not particularly rare, the vegetation of the Dolomites can be admired, in all its majesty. The woods are represented by the peccete (red fir-tree) and by the Larix Europaea (larch) especially beatiful in Autumn, only in the first part of the route and the more internal Dolomites.

       
 

Every excursionist knows and recognizes the pinus mugho (mountain pine) called also barancio and, infact, the mountain 'mughete' pines probable represent the expression most characteristical of The Dolomite mountain range, both internally and externally and contribute and consolidate the vast detrital layers. Just above the tree limit (2,000 - 2,200 m) it is possible to admire other shrubs, among these the 'rodoreti' stands out with its splendid blosoms, rhododendron indicates, also limestone and dolomite rock formation, acid soil, while the hirsute vegetates on basic soil, often associated with the dwarf rhododenron with early flowering. On the damper detrital layers or in the muddy furrows of the lanslides, (rich in azote) the green alder among which we fnd other luxeriant florid grasses grows. There are numerous different species of willows that grow in these environments and which contribute in renewing continually the landscape. Excursionists are certainly enchanted by the spectacular sight of the alpine meadows. Seslerieti (on limestone and basic soils), curvulet (on basic acid soils), festuceti, poeti cariceti.are the typology more frequent and often it is the detailed morphology which selections the different species and which contributes in establishing a mosaic which is rarely the same. The charm and beauty of the Dolomite landscape derives from the extraordinary varity of combinations of vegetations, also enhanced by the succession of the seasons.

 
 

From the melting of the snow, to the first late ice in sumer polychromatic compositions alternate. From the white-voilet of the crocus and solvanelle follow a few weeks later the yellow and blue of the ranuncol and the genziane and gradually to summer, when the meadows are full of graminacee which entrust in the wind and not instects the pollination, with its prospects to expand and renew its life span. The amazing biodiversity, which increases progresively towards the external area and which is sometimes saved from the destruction of the glaciation quaternary, verified by all and which is certainly one of the aspects which characterize the dolomite itineraries.

 
 

When we speak of the Dolomites we also inevitably refer to the more primitive wild environments at high altitudes: overhanging walls, rock ruins, colonized slender peaks exposed to the lashing winds, screes often still in movement and very widespread, modest heaps of aeolian sands and subsidences where the snow stagnates. Each of these environments is populated by peculiar vegetations ( about one hundred are described). Thus, to exemplify, we cannot forget the flowering of the endemic Campanula morettiana (symbol of the National Dolomite Belluno Park) and Primula tyirolensis on the walls , or the papavero alpino on the detrital deposits covered in snow, or on the ruins, in August the bright small roses of the Potentilla nitida. In the snow-covered valleys (by which the current climatic tendencies have contributed in reducing) the glades are covered with dwarf willows (Salix herbacea, S. Retusa, S. reticulata) and in which we find only a few small flowering species, nevertheless still interesting, as well as mosses and lichens.
Furthermore, we can observe the growth of various tall grasses which vegetate in areas where certain animals pasture and where organic substances (romice, nettle, senecio and wild spinach) accumulate, while below the limits of the woodland and in places less disturbed these types of grasses are dominated by the Adensstyles, Cicerbita, Imperatoria, etc., and which we can observe also in the glades and the clearings.
A very particular case is that of the ledges and crevices, with very few flowers (Cynoglossum officinale or the tiny Hymenolobus) which take advantage of the defecations of the deer wintering there (for example in the area of Sòte Còrdes, on the Tofàne).
Finally, the damp and humid areas, often rare because the dolomite soils are well drained. Springs, small lakes, tiny streams, fresh slopes with running brooks merit great attention and respect as numerous rare species grow here, and are in continous danger of becoming even rarer due to land reclaimation and by disarrangements resulting fom questionable interventions. Karsts (with numerous species, about 80 marked in the dolomite territory with at least 20 to be observed along the routes), eriofori, pinguicole (carnivorous plants) and other species well-suited to these conditions.

 

 

All the dolomite flora, taking into consideration also the basin valley areas include over 2,400 different vascular species. Much more limited, but consistent, is the number which can be observed at high altitudes. Among these certain endemisms; other than the two already mentioned, the Sempervivum dolomiticum (found in the first part of the itinerary, in the area of Fòsses, Dolomiti d'Ampezzo), Rhizobotrya alpina (on the Schiàra) and Draba dolomitica. In conclusion, we would like to mention some important areas which are worth observing; in Val Pusteria, in the area of Bràies, the subalpine coniferous woods (also the rare gallo cedrone/tetrao urogallus). The 'carsici' ( karst) environments are always impressing.

 
 

One of the richest flowering areas along the route is that of Forcella Col dei Bòs, especially on the surfacing layers of Raibl clay red-voilet in colour.
The area of the cinque Torri-Nuvolàu is full of various species and small streams while the area near the Passo (pass) Giàu has an extraordinary varity of willows, damp environments and rich flowering pingu prairies.
The mount Pelmo, represents a very important natural environment with its beautiful detrital layers full of rare species and humid biotopes which form the crown at the base, reaching Palafavèra, in fact the ministry of the environment had intended instituting a natural reserve in this area.
The last of part of the route from Passo (pass) Duràn to Belluno, is the most significant flowering area and not by chance Piero Rossi wrote in his guidebook Alta Via delle Dolomiti n.1 (Tamari Ed., 1974), pag. 67: "A great part of this territory will be, at a future day, made a National Park, and the natural activities regarding the safeguarding and defence of the fauna, flora and environment will be shown".

 
 

The National Park was established in 1993. In this stretch of the route, coinciding also with the Trans-Parco, we point-out the amazing 'glacio-carsico' (glacial karst) environment of Van de Zità (Van di città), the presence of the Astragalus semprevirens and the Trifolium noricum (in the area of La Varetta and Pian de Fontana). The Talvèna is one of the naturalistic sanctuaries of the Dolomites and for this reason, it is not possible to leave the signed pathway or track; but notwithstanding this warning it is possible to appreciate completely all the extraordinary environments.