Landscape structure

The analysis of the landscape values shows the peculiar structure of the nominated property. The typical morphological components, representative of the whole of the Dolomite landscape, are identified according to a vertical sequence. The principal morphological components, from the bottom up:

1. extensive, gently undulating bases, modelled by glaciers;
2. imposing mantles of detritus surrounding the bases of the carbonate structures;
3. horizontal structural elements interrupting the rock faces, creating vast balconies and strong colour contrasts;
4. perfectly vertical, great white rock masses, with exceptionally varied shapes, rising unexpectedly from the ground.
These morphological characteristics are linked to the vegetation, together with other landscape values such as biodiversity, variety of natural habitats and richness of plant associations, fluctuations in density and colour according to the seasons, etc.

Since the nominated property is in high mountain territory, the vegetation is concentrated into two strips corresponding to the climatic zones along the altitude of the tree line: the boreal strip (below) and the alpic strip (above). The former corresponds to the conifer forests and subalpine shrublands; the latter to the primary grasslands and the various plant associations on the crags and scree, many of them endemic and some exclusive to the Dolomites. The vegetation is dynamic, dependant on natural factors (climate, soil type, morphology, etc.) and related to human action (mowing, control of ecological balance of the forests, water resources, stability of the slopes, etc.). The typical, repetitive way in which a certain type of vegetation relates to a basic morphological characteristic determines a landscape unit. In the Dolomites seven principal landscape units can be identified. From the bottom up these are: forest, shrubland, moors and heathland, grassland (relationships between vegetation and base undulating areas), scree (relationships between plant species and scree areas), bare rock and snowfields (“desert” areas)

> forest

This includes all the conifer woods (spruce fir, silver fir, larch, Alpine stone pine) and the subalpine shrubland (Swiss mountain pine, rhododendron, alder, various types of pioneer willows). Given the variety of orography and microclimates, there are a great many possible situations, often unexpected. Mixed woodland with a predominance of silver fir, extensive woods of spruce fir or larch and Alpine stone pine, create a wonderfully colourful landscape in autumn.

area (ha) 135.910,94
231 Pastures 0,02%
242 Complex cultivation patterns 0,00%
243 Land principally occupied by
agriculture, with significant areas of
natural vegetation
244 Agro-forestry areas 0,00%
311 Broad-leaved forest 2,49%
312 Coniferous forests 13,77%
313 Mixed forests 6,28%
321 Natural grassland 8,46%
322 Moors and heathland 5,45%
324 Transitional woodland/shrub 10,37%
331 Beaches, dunes, sands 0,24%
332 Bare rock 35,88%
33 Sparsely vegetated areas 16,35%
335 Glaciers and perpetual snow 0,58%
512 Water bodies


area (ha) 98.511,93
231 Pastures 0,53%
242 Complex cultivation patterns 0,11%
243 Land principally occupied by
agriculture, with significant areas of
natural vegetation
244 Agro-forestry areas 0,00%
311 Broad-leaved forest 10,99%
312 Coniferous forests 31,05%
313 Mixed forests 14,92%
321 Natural grassland 6,43%
322 Moors and heathland 6,54%
324 Transitional woodland/shrub 15,09%
331 Beaches, dunes, sands 0,47%
332 Bare rock 7,42%
33 Sparsely vegetated areas 5,74%
335 Glaciers and perpetual snow 0,11%
512 Water bodies 0,30%

Source: Corine land cover

> moors and heathland

Both in the undergrowth and above the forest limits, dwarf shrubs are the most typical vegetation of the Dolomites. Great carpets of rhododendrons, junipers, heather, and bilberries in flower, offer spectacular shows in spring. The alder is commonly found on marshy ground (particularly on Cima Pape) as are several mixtures of willow, often after snowslides. Visually, the shrubland is a type of ground cover which highlights the undulations of the lower slopes, emphasising their fluidity.

> natural grassland

Armentarawiesen Prati di ArmentaraArmentarawiesen Prati di Armentara

The Dolomite grasslands are very varied. The fields and clearings below the shrub line are the result of mowing or grazing. They are quite scarce and their upkeep also serves to hold back the woodland. However, the characteristic, prevalent type is the primary grassland above the forest line. The rich variety of herbaceous plants is typical of primary Dolomite grasslands due to the particular physico-chemical characteristics of the soil, and an optimum climatic and environmental indicator. During the summer flowering, the grasslands are spectacular and of great scenic value.

> wetland

The damp areas are amongst the most delicate and important environments in the Dolomites from the naturalistic point of view. Even though not very extensive they are numerous and qualitatively important and for this reason they are considered to be priority habitats, protected on national and international levels. Peatbogs, alluvial land left by glaciers, water sources, pools, meadows (molinieti), puddles in the summer alpine pastures and spring water pools are all considered to be damp areas.

> scree

The detrital deposits of the Dolomites are imposing and characterise the region in number and size as much as the rock faces. These enormous deposits have a particular morphology and a significant presence of the Swiss mountain pine, the most widely spread species in the region, which also has the important rôle of consolidating the slopes against landslides.

> bare rock

The very high vertical walls appear to be completely bare when seen in mass. The total absence of vegetation, which applies to whole mountains, is undoubtedly one of the most striking aspects of the Dolomites and gives them that “wild and terrible” aspect which so impressed the first visitors. In fact, the verticality and the compactness of the rock prevent the growth of plants of appreciable size. However, in the spring primroses, violets, bluebells, golden rampions, sandworts, rock jasmine, and saxifrages appear in the cracks of the rock faces to create astonishing effects. The most impressive flowering is provided by the alpine poppy at the highest altitudes, in areas generally covered in snow. The extraordinary contrast in colour with the candour of the walls, creates an image of great evocative force. In popular literature, the phenomenon of the blushing of the peaks at sunset isexplained thus: when the sun sets, the white rocks of the peaks are covered withincredible fields of megòjes, poppies, in flower.

> snowfields

The presence of a great number of small glaciers and snowfields, even at relatively low altitudes, is typical of the Dolomites. Apart from the Marmolada glacier, the most extensive in the Dolomites, and the Fradusta glacier amongst the Pale di San Martino, there are about seventy others, constantly monitored. Almost every mountain group has its own small snowfield in sheltered spots and cols exposed to the north. Some rare and surprising species have adapted to these extreme environments. The areas near the snowfields have a meagre but rather specialised plant life and often have interesting detritus contributions. The typical plant life of the snowy valleys includes dwarf willows.
The topics on Climate, Flora and Fauna are exhaustively explained in the Ecological aspects section of the Annex 2.

 Landscape structure Typical morphological components (on the right) and vegetation features (on the left).Landscape structure Typical morphological components (on the right) and vegetation features (on the left).