The Outstanding Dolomiti Bellunesi Flora is Contained Within a Wild and Beautiful National Park.

The Dolomiti Bellunesi Flora is contained within the boundaries of the wide Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park. In fact, one of the main scientific motivations behind the institution of this extensive National Park lies precisely in the extraordinary richness and significance of its rare flora. It is a unique heritage, which alone represents above a quarter of the national flora of Italy.

In the park there are many plants that are either endemic, rare or present with disjointed stations, often at the limit of their natural zone of distribution. These mountains are also the locus classicusof species that, found there, were then described for the first time by science – such as Thlaspi minimum, Minuartia graminifolia and Rhizobotrya alpina.

In a single quadrant within an area of the Vette Feltrine are counted as many as 1,130 species (just to give an idea, almost the same amount of native plants found in the whole of the British Isles!) – so that this could well be considered a natural botanical garden among the mountains.

These exceptional conditions have many reasons, but they could be synthesized as such: an articulated orography, with wide variations in altitude in a relatively short space; a very complex geological history, with important dislocations and tectonic phenomena, and huge differences also in terms of subsoil.

Even though there is a definite prevalence of calcareous (or 'Dolomite') bedrock, other types of rocks are also present – such as surfacing crystalline rocks and other sediments of volcanic origin.

Not least important, for variations in the flora, is the presence of different types of limestone, rich in marl and flint.

Ultimately, glacial phenomena largely explain the actual landscape configuration: in these mountains, situated at the southwestern fringe of the Dolomites, the quaternary glaciations have left some ridges and steep slopes free of ice, where species of the preceding Tertiary era, isolated, have managed to survive.

The role of Nunatakker (or 'refuge oases') of these mountains is widely documented, and this also helps to explain some aspects that from an ecological point of view would otherwise have no explanation today.

The geographical position has certainly played an essential role too, as this territory presents a typically Dolomite inner section, but also peripheral areas influenced by a warmer climate, with the subsequent penetration of more warmth-loving, sub-Mediterranean species. In addition, in the whole of the external, more southerly zone, the progressive colonization by more easterly species is clearly detectable, and it is connected with environments of a more primitive or steppic nature.

Also, the river Piave and its valley has historically always represented an important bio-geographical threshold, as some species – of more westerly gravitation – have never pushed further east of this line.

In other words, in the course of various glacial and geological events, these mountains have historically been at the crossroads of several floral migrations, coming from various directions – and this is one of the main reasons to explain the richness of their flora.

If the areas of highest and more acclaimed value for their flora are the wide meadows and Alpine pastures of the Vette Feltrine, the Erera plateau, Monte Serva (2,133 m) and Talvena (2,542 m), one also has to observe that the traditional practices linked to agriculture and cattle farming have contributed to the creation of particular ecological niches without which the landscape would be more uniform than it is today  and certainly much poorer.

In a protected area, the conservation of flora is paramount, and it is a cultural – as well as an institutional – task. With this goal in mind, a precise documentation of all the botanical knowledge relating to the park has been collected: this is the product of a pluri-decennial work by two authors who have a deep knowledge and love of the areas and territory now covered by the park Cesare Lasen and Carlo Argenti.

The notes that follow are a condensed version of the product of their long-standing research, which hopefully will be of help to the visitor of the Park in search for floral beauties as well as botanical rarities.

A Botanical Haven: Setting the Scene

Imagine a traveler that from the plains is going towards the Alps today: in fact, he or she is doubling an itinerary which has been known for millennia, and walked over already by Roman troops, as they were conquering the valley of the Alps, as well as – afterwards – the Venetian merchants who carried goods across the mountains towards Germany. Now, these same routes are interested by a massive tourist flow.

It is an environment rich in geological phenomena and crossed by powerful streams and rivers, in which we can find diverse habitats, such as dense forests, karstic plateaus and Alpine pastures.

Despite the many studies, scientific knowledge of this area is still incomplete; various bio-geographical problems remain open, especially as there are several species which are particularly significant for their rarity, and for bearing the witness of past geological events.

The park has been the promoter of an accurate survey of the vegetal species known in its territory, based on a deep knowledge that has allowed for important discoveries (in fact, it is the first real, modern catalogue for the flora of an area within the Dolomites – if one excludes a similar document released by the Natural Regional Park of Paneveggio- Pale di San Martino, in nearby Trentino).

When it comes to research on the flora, the area of the Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park has an old tradition; in particular, the Vette di Feltre and Monte Serva (2,133 m) have been representing, for botany, important centres of research for centuries – known as ‘horti’ – whose richness has attracted the attention of botanists at all times.

Outlining the history of botany in this area is a bit like going through the most significant milestones in botanical history itself. The area has always been traditionally divided into two sections, the Belluno side (with Monte Serva) and the Feltre side (with the Vette di Feltre); in fact, these two areas also identify different traditions as for botanic research – almost as a way of confirming historical differences between the two territories which have become apparent in other fields too.

If botanical research is characterized in the Feltre area by the names of illustrious botanists who came here from the outside – and the Vette di Feltre have often bore the honour of being the “locus classicus” for some rare species – the Belluno sector is distinguished instead by a research that has been conducted with more continuity by local scholars and amateurs.

Old Figurative Herbaria and Other Early Evidence

At the beginning, the study of plants was considered only for medical purposes, and herbs played a fundamental part in the cure of illnesses. An indispensible instrument were the so-called “code-herbaria”, in which plants were illustrated with a good degree of accuracy, together with their medicinal virtues.

First evidence, in this respect, goes back to the 15th century: a code-herbarium which was kept in Bergamo, and is now known as “Codex guarnerinus”, dated 1441.

Even more interesting for us is the Codex bellunensis, so called as it is considered produced in Belluno in the first part of the 15th century; it is now kept at the British Library in London.

In this herbarium, of exceptional interest are the references to precise locations where certain plants were found, such as Monte Serva (2,133 m) and Monte Talvena (2,542 m) – as well as the city of Belluno itself – so that one can in fact speak of the first proper local floral compilation. Many species are represented here (about 300), amongst which is to be mentioned the oldest known drawing of an Edelweiss.

In the 1500s is to be recalled also the activity in Belluno of a doctor, Agostino Alpago; in addition, in the famous plant books compiled by the venetian Pietro Antonio Michiel, are mentioned numerous specimens given to him by Alpago himself, collected in the lower valley floors around Feltre and Belluno.

To the 1600s dates the work of a pharmacist from Belluno Nicolò Chiavena – who makes references to plants strictly on a medical basis. In his work, there is ample evidence of the floral richness of Monte Serva; in his honour, Linnaeus would even rename a plant – previously known as Absinthium umbelliferum – as Achillea clavennae: a name with which this beautiful member of the Compositae family (that finds its home in the pastures and rock habitats at high altitude) is still known today.

In the 1600s another pharmacist – Giovanni Pona from Verona – compiled a work dedicated to Monte Baldo, which was published in 1617, and speaks there of certain plants that were found in the mountains around Belluno – such as Papaver rhaeticum.

The 18th century sees the start of the first ‘real’ botanical explorations: in this century, botany undergoes a deep renovation that will culminate in the fundamental oeuvre by Linnaeus – still the cornerstone of botany’s binomial system to this day.

By then, the study of botany had progressively acquired an autonomous character, and the plants are not seen uniquely in function of their therapeutic qualities anymore. In the meantime, the fame of the Vette di Feltre as a ‘hortus’ of exceptional value has spread far and wide, and illustrious botanists of their time visit them; the plants they collect are then mentioned in their works.

In 1712, Antonio Tita – director of the Morosini Garden in Padua – visits the Vette, and in his relation he lists 167 plants with a pre-Linnaeus type of nomenclature, which is not always easy to interpret today; despite that, some species – which are still considered among the most notable of the park – are listed there for the first time; amongst them are Aconitum anthora, Delhinium dubium, Corthusa matthioli and Alyssum ovirense.

Even more interesting is the excursion carried out in July 1724 by the Venetian pharmacist Zannichelli; his relation – product of a field trip that was certainly not easy to organize, at the time – lists 135 floral entities amongst which are mentioned Rhaponticum scariosum, Gentiana lutea, Anemone narcissiflora and Loiseleuria procumbens.

More honour to the flora of the Vette was to come from Pietro Arduino, also from the Botanical Garden in Padua: he is the first to describe Thlaspi minimum and the plant now known as Minuartia graminifolia.

As we have already seen, for these two species the Vette di Feltre represent the “locus classicus” – which means the location where they were first discovered and described.

At the end of the 1700s, mention must be made also of the work of Giuseppe Agosti – a nobleman (and Jesuit priest) from Belluno with a passion for botanical studies, who left a voluminous treaty and also a herbarium now kept at the Botanical Garden in Padua. His collection is certainly representative for the flora  around Belluno, and it contains species that are now considered extinct in this province – such as Ranunculus lingua and Lolium temulentum.

Strictly connected to this herbarium is the one complied by Giuseppe Lambioi towards the end of the 1700s, in which Geranium argenteum and Rhaponticum scariosum appear, collected in all likelihood on Monte Serva.

The two above mentioned herbaria are not the only ones known for the area; it is therefore out of doubts that many people at the time – probably in mutual connection – were cultivating an active interest in botany.

Botanists of the 19th Century

This century represents a period of very active exploration for the flora of the Dolomiti Bellunesi, and as usual, the two districts to attract more attention are the Vette di Feltre and Monte Serva (2,133 m). The Linnaean binomial nomenclature is by now universally accepted, and this favours a major precision and uniqueness in the indication of the species.

In the 1800s, a dense network of exchanges – also of dried specimens – develops among Venetian botanists, and this can be verified by consulting the herbaria which were compiled in this period. This fact is even more astonishing when one considers the time and the difficulties in communication that still denoted the period.

In 1817, the Venetian nobleman Nicolò Contarini went on a field trip in the Vette Feltrine, and this excursion can be connected – in many respects – with other explorations of the preceding century. Contarini compiled a list of 89 plants, and new indications on the results of this excursion can be had from a recent revision of the Contarini herbarium. In his collections, there were a few new reports (such as Androsace villosa) plus some important confirmations – like Corthusa matthioli and Ranunculus seguieri.

Numerous excursions were also carried out by a pharmacist from Bassano del Grappa, Giovanni Montini, who certainly operated in the area of Feltre between 1835 and 1850; his herbarium has been the object of a recent and accurate revision. Montini was the first botanist who demonstrated to have explored not just the Vette di Feltre proper, but also the surrounding area; his contribution is particularly meaningful in that he collected 240 local specimens.

Among the species that deserve a mention are Lloydia serotina, Thalictrum foetidum, Rhyzobotria alpina, Saxifraga mutata, Campanula morettiana and Bupleurum petraeum, while unfortunately, since that time, the disappearance of other species has to be reported, such as – for example – Stachys germanica, Thymelaea passerina and Euphorbia exigua, which were collected by Montini in the valley floors around Feltre, and of which indication has been lost in more recent times; on the other hand, there are doubts on the accuracy of other specimens collected by him.

To more or less the same period belongs the activity of another illustrious botanist of the time – Alberto Parolini, also from Bassano del Grappa. There is no real evidence of his direct explorations, and perhaps his specimens are the product of exchanges; nevertheless, his herbarium counts as many as 13,500 sheets.

The first half of the 1800s sees also the activity of Alessandro Francesco Sandi – and that represents the first known attempt to list the flora of the whole province of Belluno. A major item of interest is his herbarium – composed of about 1,700 sheets, of which only a minority shows the location of collection – counting around 100 specimens that come from the area now inside the park; there are also some species which had never been reported before.

Strictly connected to Sandi is the presence of a mysterious character from Agordo; allegedly, a botanist named Da Roit, to whom we owe some of the entries in the Sandi herbarium. There is still some mystery around this figure and his collections; his could be in fact the herbarium now kept at the Museum of Natural History in Udine and known as Florae bellunensis, with about 500 specimens, containing also Astragalus sempervirens.

In relationship with Sandi was also Ferdinando Paterno, who was an active plant collector in the area in the first half of the 19th century; the same goes for Francesco Beggiato: despite not being clear whether he has directly explored the Vette di Feltre or not, certainly his name is to be remembered, as he first described one of the most notable floral presences within the park – namely, Rhizobotrya alpina.

In the first half of the 19th century the work of Francesco Facchini is also relevant: he was a doctor from the Val di Fassa (in Trentino) who compiled the “Flora Tiroliae Cisalpinae”, which included a numerous contingent of species from the Vette di Feltre, amongst which are Primula tyrolensis, Cortusa matthioli, Campanula morettiana, Delphinum dubium, Ranunculus seguieri, Alyssum ovirense and Rhizobotrya alpina.

Facchini, in fact, can also be considered at the forefront of a tradition of studies on the flora of Trentino, which inspired several followers – amongst whom is Giulio Paoletti, co-writer of the first analytic flora of Italy (and who incidentally – before that – compiled a local flora for the basin of Primiero, which displays some interesting reports that were never confirmed by subsequent research).

While the Vette di Feltre always remained the main field of active research, in the second half of the 19th century – in the Belluno area – it is still Monte Serva to attract the attention of botanists, amongst who is Rupert Huter: a Tyrolean priest who collected an enormous amount of specimens which are now conserved in several herbaria across Europe, together with detailed information on the collections (the so-called Herbar-Studien). We owe him the first finding on Monte Serva of Alyssum ovirense, Serratula macrocephala, Festuca spectabilis and Ranunculus venetus.

Together with Huter, one also has to remember Sebastiano Venzo, a pharmacist from Lozzo di Cadore, who indicated some significant botanical presences in the area – such as Betonica pradica – even though the indication of other species, which was not confirmed, puts a question mark on his work.

Certainly to be appreciated is the contribution to the floristic knowledge of the Dolomiti Bellunesi by Giacomo Bizzozero, assistant at the Botanical Garden in Padua. As well as on the Vette di Feltre, he collected specimens in the Maè basin, where he first described Spiraea decumbens subsp. tomentosa (and successively, many other botanists studied this species).

Besides botanists, during the course of the 1800s there was also a contingent of ‘travelers’ who, while often only passing through the area, nevertheless left  descriptions and notes on the local flora behind them.

Amongst them are Georg von Martens, a German naturalist, and Wilhelm Papperitz, a botanist from Dresden – both of whom collected on Monte Serva – as well as Dionys Stur, a geologist from the Austrian Empire, and Siegfried Schunck, a passionate Austrian botanist – even though there are some perplexities around his reports, as well as around those of a Belgian botanist, François Crépin, who nonetheless wrote that the area displayed “une flore d’une richesse peu commune”.

The late 1800s is also the time of the discovery of the Dolomites, though, and of the publication of the first guides on the subject, often accompanied by some notes of botanical relevance.

Theodor Sendtner is the author of a booklet on Monte Pavione published in 1878, which deserves mention for the originality and interest of its indications.

The Irishman John Ball was first and foremost known as an Alpinist; he described extensively the mountains of the area, but also cultivated an active interest in botany. He collected plants in the Dolomites for several years, and most of his specimens are kept at the Italian Central Herbarium in Florence.

One of his works, published posthumous (“The Distribution of the Plants on the South Side of the Alps”), deals with a description of the flora in the Southern Alps, divided by districts. Roughly speaking, Ball divides the Belluno province into two sections: Feltre-Agordo-Cordevole (the Vette di Feltre would fall into this section), and Cadore-Piave springs (Monte Serva – the other “botanical highlight” of the Park – would belong here).

Ball lists, for each section, an enormous number of species; besides entries for which it is not difficult to prove their continued existence up to today, there are other entities which were not confirmed, somehow affecting the validity of his research.

The botanists listed up to now certainly do not exhaust the list of all those who busied themselves, one way or another, with studying the rich flora of the area now covered by the Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park. Amongst their rank, at least to be mentioned is Giuseppe Moretti – who was botany professor at the University of Pavia, and to whom was dedicated the Campanula morettiana, whose flowers were chosen as the symbol of the park.

Also to be remembered is Adolfo de Bérenger, curator of a rich herbarium which is now owned by, and kept at, the Botanical Garden in Padua; on the other hand, the destiny of a herbarium of about 4,000 specimens collected in the area around Belluno by Pietro Favero – an otherwise unknown farmer from Cesiomaggiore – remains unknown.

Explorations in the First Half of the 20th Century

The first few years in the 1900s also represent an active season for research in the mountains of Feltre and Belluno on the part of various botanists united by their common formation at the Padua Botanical Garden, which at the time was under the guidance of Pier Andrea Saccardo, who did so much towards knowledge of the local flora; these researches were unfortunately interrupted by the onset of WW1.

Giovanni Battista Traverso would then occupy himself with botanical research on the Vette di Feltre, where he did several expeditions; the following year, his studies had as an outcome the publication of a work – compiled together with Prof. Saccardo – that represents a fundamental point of reference for whoever is interested in researching the flora of the area.

This catalogue lists 350 species, 72 of which were already known, while 50 were considered “previously not found”. Some reports could not be verified and leave a certain margin of perplexity; many entries can be double checked against the “Erbario delle Vette di Feltre”– the herbarium that had been compiled by Traverso.

In the last few years of the 1800s a period of botanic investigation started in the eastern section of the Park, thanks to the work of some teachers – especially two Venetian scholars (Ettore de Toni and Michelangelo Minio) who came to the province of Belluno, visited it extensively, and left several contributions.

A good florist, the reports by Minio are precise and circumstanced; he collected a rich herbarium which is now kept at the Italian Central Herbarium in Florence, and published also several articles dedicated to the flora of the area. If some of the species signaled by Minio do not find confirmation any more, the fact is probably due to their extinction – not certainly by mistakes in his determinations.

Pio Bolzon also wrote valid notes of floristic nature, and reported several species for the areas around both Feltre and Belluno, with a particular reference to the low valley floors and the foothills.

Together with the botanists listed so far, one should also remember the work of Renato Pampanini, who probably did not manage to investigate directly the flora of the territory that today falls into the Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park; nonetheless, there are numerous references to this area contained in a study on the endemic species of the South-eastern Alps, appeared in 1903.

Between the two wars there was not any notable activity in the area, except perhaps for the work of Silvia Zenari; in 1934, she published a paper on the vegetation of Monte Schiara (2,565 m) and Monte Pelf (2,502 m): this was directly aimed at the study of the local vegetation, which perhaps went to the detriment of the accuracy of the determinations; afterwards, Zenari came out with numerous other work dealing specifically with the flora of the Park, but her later production seems to be of a slightly lesser quality.

From the Years After the War to Today

In the period after WW2, a forestry commission inspector – Francesco Caldart – gave new vigor to the long, outstanding tradition of botanical studies in the Dolomiti Bellunesi. We owe him a noteworthy activity aimed at divulgating knowledge of the naturalistic heritage within the province.

Caldart was among the first to become conscious of the degradation problems that threatened the natural environment, and to propose measures aimed both at the resolution of these problems and at safeguarding the local landscape.

A dedicated plant hunter, we owe him the indication of species that until then were not considered present in the area – such as Trifolium noricum on Monte Talvena (2,542 m). Through his work, we are left with evidence of a flora that is extinct by now, and of habitats which are irremediably compromised.

More or less to the same time dates the work of Elio Corona – a forestry technician from Trentino; other contributions came from the amateur commitment of several members of the local Alpine Club sections, who aimed at getting floristic knowledge out of a selected circle of specialists.

The particular richness of endemic species present in the Park could certainly not fail to be addressed by specific studies. A substantial turn around botanical knowledge of the area presently covered by the Park were the researches carried out, since the beginning of the 1970s, by Sandro Pignatti, at the time botany professor at the University of Trieste – a name now known nationwide and held in high esteem for his comprehensive Flora of Italy.

Together with his wife, Pignatti started a systematic study on the flora and vegetation of the mountain groups of Monte Schiara (2,565 m) and Monte Serva (2,133 m), and successively on the Vette di Feltre.

The Pignatti initiated the first systematic cataloguing of the flora of the Dolomiti Bellunesi, following the method of floristic cartography in use in Northern European countries, then at its beginnings. Their research took shape in several publications, both at popular and scientific level, with a monographic issue on the “Flora and Vegetation of the Vette di Feltre”. These works, as well as giving scientific support and credit towards the institution of a National Park, called for more general interest in the exceptional naturalistic values of this territory.

A merit which is not secondary to the activity of the Pignatti was that of renewing interest for the studies on local flora. On the basis of such research, one can certainly say that we have arrived, as for the flora, to a highly satisfactory level of knowledge for almost the whole area now covered by the Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park.

Many of the species that were reported in the past have been confirmed by the Pignatti, while others have been recently re-discovered after their supposed disappearance. If species already reported in the past have not been confirmed, one can then have a reasonable certainty that either the species has disappeared for environmental variations, or that the report was the product of an erroneous indication in the first place.

On the other hand, many problems – at the level of local flora – remain open; one can particularly make a reference to the so-called “critical genera” (such as Alchemilla, Rubus, Taraxacum, Thymus, Valeriana officinalis agg., Potentilla verna agg., Viola hirta agg., Anthyllis vulneraria agg., Koeleria pyramidata agg. – just to remind some): their satisfying framing will be possible only when new information is acquired, as the fact that a good degree of knowledge has been reached certainly does not preclude the possibility of further developments and of new discoveries.

The Checklist of the Flora of the Dolomiti Bellunesi

This is the comprehensive and ultimate at this stage, at least study mentioned earlier, painstakingly complied over the last 25 years by the joint work of Cesare Lasen and Carlo Argenti.

In the compilation of the check list of the flora of the Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park were considered – as well as the territory of its strict pertinence – also the surrounding areas, so to include, all in all, the whole section of the province of Belluno comprised between the Cismon and Piave rivers, limited to the north by an imaginary line that ideally connects Passo Cereda (1,369 m) to Passo Duran (1,605 m). This inclusion was necessary in order to gain a more comprehensive picture of the flora of this territory, based on objective geographical limits rather than administrative boundaries – very often debatable.

For the list of species, the systematic order proposed by Pignatti was followed – bar a few cases, for which reference was made to more recent monographic works. The main element of reference is the species, with an indication of their ecology and distribution in the area, and the locality in which the specimens were found (especially when they were inferior to 5 or 6); the species were also distinguished between those certainly present and those observed only outside the boundaries of the park (in the so-called 'buffer zone').

In some cases, whenever there were too many uncertainties, the detail had to stop at the ‘aggregatum’ (agg.) level. There were also problems for the identification of some critical ‘taxa’, for some of which sometimes a satisfactory resolution was not yet found.

The following is thus just a brief outline of the amount of work that was necessary to put into the compilation of such a detailed, comprehensive list. Research was carried out over the course of about 25 years; of all the entities reported there have corresponding entries in the herbarium – amounting on the whole to more than 20,000 dried specimens.

The list was completed by taking into account, whenever possible, the ascertained species; many of those reported in the past and not found anymore have probably disappeared due to environmental variations or as a result of interpretative mistakes. This does not exclude, of course, that some of the species indicated in the past may be found again in the future, and also not to be forgotten is the natural dynamism that can lead to huge variations in floral composition – unfathomable as such, but already appreciable over the course of the last 25 years.

Biological and Chorological Spectra

The following information gives out some more detail of this comprehensive study. In order to complete the checklist of the flora of a given territory it is useful to represent the overall character of the vegetation, together with the biological and chorological spectra.

The biological spectrum puts into focus the biological forms, and it is strongly conditioned by the climate (for instance, the number of terophites – i.e. plants with annual cycles – augments in those areas with a hot and arid climate).

On the opposite, the chorological spectrum gives out information on the origin and provenance of the floristic contingent, synthesizing the complex events of the plant migrations that were caused by the glaciations of the Quaternary era.

For the identification of the biological forms and of the chorological element for each species or sub-species considered significant, the layout of the chorological atlas of nearby Friuli-Venezia Giulia was taken as a model; in addition – in order to assign a biological form and a chorological element also to other species which were not present in that flora – indications have been followed according to the “Flora d’Italia” by Pignatti (1992). Some degree of simplification was nevertheless deemed necessary, and in some cases modifications too – wherever it was evident that certain interpretations were open to debate.

The intention was to propose a spectrum for both versions (biological and chorological), which were then open for further elaboration and in-depth research. In particular, as for the chorological element, it is to be noticed that the entries defined as “Mediterranean-montane” by Poldini were treated instead as “European orophytes” by Pignatti.

It would also be necessary to open a discussion on the concept of endemic, as the limit existing between an entity defined as ‘endemic’ and another indicated as Alpine is not always clear – provided that further differentiation is possible too.

Between entities termed as Alpine endemic and others simply defined as Alpine the dividing line is not always so neat; for this reason, in most cases, ‘Alpine’ and ‘endemic’ entities have been kept distinct.

When using this data, one also has to bear in mind two aspects: the confrontation can have a meaning only if it is carried out on areas that are homogeneous at bio-climatic level and geographically close by, otherwise significant differences are to be expected.

In addition, there was a desire here to put into evidence the changes that would occur if within the context of the Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park were to be included also the valley floors and the areas in close proximity, but strictly speaking out of the park boundaries ('buffer zones'). In terms of overall bio-diversity, this would imply quite a significant addition – even though the data may not always necessarily present themselves with the requisites of high quality and accuracy generally displayed by the studies on the flora of the park.

Biological spectrum

As anticipated earlier, the most interesting observations are those regarding the significant differences between the external areas and those within the park.

In particular, the terophytes are quite relevant in number outside the park; even more noticeable are the differences between hydrophytes and eleophytes – which are obviously relegated to the wetlands of the valley floor; in this case, one must notice that the data – if expressed in percentage, considering the overall low value – cannot adequately express subtle but often meaningful differences.

In the overall set of data, one can notice a significant contingent of geophytes too, followed by the terophytes only when considering also the areas which, strictly speaking, are outside the park boundaries.

Chorological spectrum

As proposed already for the biological forms, there is the possibility here of considering only the species contained within the perimeter of the park, or of taking into account also the external areas.

The flora of the park is characterized by a substantial prevalence of temperate elements that widely overtake the cold temperate (boreal) and the orophile (“Mediterranean-montane”).

The Euro-Mediterranean species are in fact concentrated mainly in the band just outside of the park boundaries, and one can appreciate here the subtle differences that emerge when taking into account solely the data relative to the external buffer zone.

The number of exotic species (considering also those that were once commonly cultivated and that have escaped cultivation, which then became able to reproduce themselves autonomously) is quite consistent by now, and certainly underestimated.

Nonetheless, at times, these are ephemeral presences, and one has to stress, again, the formidable differences that result in case one considers only the area strictly belonging to the park – certainly in a better state of conservation, as it is less subject to human activities – rather than including also the external buffer zone.

Different considerations should be done for those entities of eastern provenance that can be grouped in order to underline a specific phyto-geographical aspect: the floral migrations along the south-eastern fringe of the Alps, which in fact has found new confirmation. Some of these species are also endemic  or plants with a significant disjointed distribution  but generally speaking they all share a relevant ecological and bio-geographical interest.

The entities with a more westerly gravitation are present instead in much less quantity, when compared to the eastern species; as for the cosmopolite, they do not show evidence of surprising data or an appreciable gap in regards to the behavior expected in areas either inside or outside the park.

In any case, all these different sets of data are certainly useful in order to calculate and put into focus the diversities among various sectors of the park (so not just between internal and external areas, but taking into account also the differences within the protected area itself).

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