The Park consists of different environments and cultures. There are many differences between the country wards situated on the slopes looking over the Valley of the Piave (in the areas of Feltre and Belluno) and the villages lying in the valleys of Agordo and Zoldo, since they are situated on slopes with completely different climatic and geological features.
The most interesting areas from a naturalistic point of view are mainly
situated at the highest altitudes, in the plateaus, in the "buse" of
glacial origin, but also in the bottom of the valleys and at the
busiest entrances. The great variety of environmental aspects and of
landscapes is the most relevant feature especially in summer, when the
Park is rich in very colorful blooming. The western area of the Park,
that of the real summits (the "Vette"), is characterized by peaks
covered with grass (the most famous one is Mt. Pavione pyramid, 2.335
m) and by wide strata of detritus, glacial cirques, and karst basins.
You can reach this area directly from the hills (Croce d'Aune, Col dei Mich, Val di San Martin)
through steep paths which go round rugged but interesting slopes whose
landscapes remind of the harsh Pre-Alps. The Cimonega subgroup is more
similar to the Dolomites, and its highest peak is the Sass de Mura
(2.550 m). The main gateway to this area is the deep Valle di Canzoi,
from which you can reach the plateaus of Erera-Brendol and Piani Eterni
in the very eastern part of the Alpi Feltrine. Dolomitic and pre-alpine
features perfectly melt in the subgroups of Pizzocco and Agnelezze.
The Monti del Sole (on both slopes, Mis and Cordevole) represent the wild heart of the Park, being a superb and almost inaccessible sanctuary where natural forces rule over every human attempt to master them. Starting from the lowest altitudes, deep ravines, ducts made by detritus, small waterfalls, steep ridges and rock spikes, and crags covered by woods, shape a really suggestive landscape which is very similar to that of the most eastern areas of the Alps.
On the Belluno slope, you can admire both huge Dolomitic walls (Burel della Schiara), and peaks covered with grass (Monte Serva). The beautiful forest in the basin of Cajada and the grass-rock formations of the Talvena mountain chain are remarkable too. The cool slopes of the valley of Zoldo are typical of the inner Dolomites (Val Pramper and Grisol) and they are very different from the harsh and precipitous slopes that can be seen travelling up the Valley of Piave between Ponte nelle Alpi and Longarone.
Within the Park there are also two artificial lakes, the Mis and La Stua in Val Canzoi.
the most relevant species are the ungulates
among which we must mention the chamois (the Park's herd is of about
2.000 specimens), the roe deer, and the deer, whose number is at the
The presence of the mouflon, which has been set free in Val Scura and which has found here its ideal habitat (its herd has rapidly grown), has been criticized. All the remaining typical species of the Alpine and Dolomitic fauna are signalled, but unfortunately there are no precise data concerning their real number. Among them: Alpine hares, foxes, badgers, ermines, weasels, martens, beech-martens, squirrels, hedgehogs, etc.
The presence of micromammals is also interesting.
avifauna is well-known. Among the most interesting environments from
this point of view, there are the hills lying outside the Park, where
the economy is still based on a traditional agriculture, and the
wetlands at the bottom of the valleys, in particular along the river
The day and nocturnal birds of prey are quite common. The golden eagle, for instance, can be found within the Park, especially in the most protected niches in the walls of the mountains: here, almost five couples have their nest.
A special role is played by the tetraonids (capercaillie, black grouse, hazel grouse, and ptarmigan) and by the rock partridge: they are all precious species and most of them risk to disappear. As a consequence, the Park has the important task to preserve this heritage.
Although there are not many damp areas within the Park, the herpetologic fauna is quite common.
Black salamanders, frogs, and newts can be found also at high altitude.
The excursionist should not be scared by the presence of vipers if he takes precautions and if he is aware that they do not attack man unless they are provoked. Often vipers are mistaken with other colubrids which are more or less common (the smooth snake, the western whip snake, the Aesculapian snake, the ringed-snakes).
Due to the programmes of reintroduction by the local fishers, the presence of species of fish is not so relevant.
This is a field of high scientific interest. However, this does not mean it cannot be appreciated by excursionists.
Various groups are not yet known or they have not been studied in detail. On the contrary, we have detailed information about the preglacial molluscs and, in the category of insects, about the Carabid coleopters living in caves and in hypogean environments. There are also exclusive endemic species such as Orotrechus pavionis, O. theresiae, Neobathyscia dalpiazi, Leptusa pascuorum pavionis and other species which are still being studied. The information, although incomplete, show and confirm the exceptional biological and geographical value of the protected area.
Without a doubt, the great richness and rarity of the flora has been
one of the main scientific reasons of the establishment of the Park.
The Vette di Feltre and Mt. Serva are very famous, and they have been visited since the 18th century by the most illustrious botanists. There are about 1,500 examples of vascular flora (plants with flowers and others, such as ferns, with roots, stem, and leaves). Several of these plants deserve to be mentioned since they are endemic, rare, or have an inestimable phytogeographical value. The most southern region is even richer, since it has been not so devastated by glaciations, and therefore ancient species have survived. The Dolomitic area is not so rich in endemic species like some pre-alpine regions, however many rare species have found here their habitat or are near their traditional distribution area. The most common types of vegetation are the alpine (particularly the eastern sector), the boreal and the Eurasiatic-temperate one. Mediterranean and Atlantic species are rare, while those of Eastern Europe (Illyrian, Pontian, and species from south-eastern Europe) are worth mentioning as well as those of the circummediterranean area (Mediterranean and mountain species). We will focus only on some of the most rare species, among which:
|Delphinium dubium (larkspur)||Ranuncolacea blooming in full summer and in some steady screes of the Vette.|
|Cortusa matthioli||This beautiful flower belongs to the Primrose family and it is common in the western area of the Park, from the Vette to the basin of Mis; its ideal habitat is a shadowy and cool place covered by snow for most of the year and rich in nourishing substances.|
|Astragalus sempervirens||The Spinous Astragalus is relatively common in the western Alps. In the eastern Alps it grows only in the areas of Forcella La Varetta, Vescovà, Pian de Fontata, on steep and very dry cliffs.|
|Alyssum ovirense||Illyrian species. Thanks to a surprisingly extended network of roots, it forms widespread colonies covering with a yellow coat the detritus covered with snow in winter and very hot in summer. The Alyssum can be found only in Pavione, Busa delle Vette, Feltrino, and on Mt. Serva.|
|Thlaspi minimum||Small Crucifera with white flowers. This species too lives on detritus covered with snow and only in the western part, from Vallazza to Val Canzoi, where it was discovered for the first time in 1763.|
|Lilium carniolicum||A wonderful lily growing only on the western grass-rock slopes oriented to the South. This is an Illyrian plant living here at the western end of its common distribution area.|
|Campanula morettiana||This is an endemic species of the Dolomites and can be commonly found in the whole area of the Park, especially on the humid cliffs above 1000 - 1200 metres, where it blooms in full summer. The blooming frequently occurs together with another species, the Primula tyrolensis, which has an early blooming.|
|Rhizobotrya alpina||This is a protected rare endemic species of the Dolomites living on wet gravel at high altitudes. This plant too has ancient origins and it has been discovered in the Vette di Feltre in 1833.|
|Sempervivum dolomiticum||Succulent plant vegetating in rather dry zones and only in very few high-altitude places (Piadoch, Campotorondo).|
|Trifolium noricum||One of the most western biotopes of its distribution area, in the surroundings of La Varetta, a place of cool pastures and superficial soil.|
The vegetation, which has been only recently described and studied, is also very interesting. It varies according to the different altitudes.
Broadleaf woods of hornbeams and oaks. They are common in the sunny biotopes up to 1000 - 1200 meters, often habitats which have been transformed by human activities. Particularly interesting are the primitive biotopes of the cliffs or of the dry slopes.
Large beech woods, sometimes mixed with conifers. The silver fir is present in remarkable populations only in some areas (Caiada, Val del Grisol). In dry habitats with steep slopes we can find beautiful pinewoods of both Scotch and black pine (the latter reaches the Valle del Mis and the Val Scura as the extreme western extensions of its Illyrian-like distribution area). The dry mountain meadows, which have replaced the original woods on the southern slopes, are also very interesting since they are rich in rare species.
The conifer woods (with mainly spruce fir) often have an anthropic origin. At higher altitudes, beechwoods are replaced by mugo pinewoods. The slopes which are more influenced by the oceanic climate lack a real area of firwoods. At higher altitudes it is possible to find often sub-alpine shrubs, mugo pinewoods covering wide regions at lower altitudes, willow groves, and alder woods with green alder trees.
This is the most interesting area from a botanical point of view, since it is characterized by various kinds of vegetal communities (blue moor-grasses, French lavenders, fescue meadows, and sedge fields). Some endemic vegetal communities have been described here for the first time, such as the Saxifragetum burseranae and the Campanuletum morettianae, which have been found on the cliffs. There are, of course, other important aspects, such as the Silene veselskyi clusters which are found in the winding ravines where they find shelter from the heavy rain. There is a good literature available on the other habitats, such as small glacial valleys and crest debris, situated at high altitudes. Wetlands and springs are very important but very rare too. The shores of the rivers are rich in interesting species which are not peculiar to the Alps anymore.
Great part of the territory lies on rocks of sedimentary origin, but there are some exceptions, like in upper Valle del Mis and in Valle Imperina, where at the "Linea della Valsugana" (an important fault representing the geological border of the Dolomites), ancient rocks of metamorphic origin emerge.
Today in the Park we can admire large meadow basins, deep and wide valleys, large and sunny mountain faces, but also dark ravines dripping of water, rocks overhanging gloomy gorges, solitary and deep narrow valleys, and rough plateaus where the karst nature has given origin to a subterranean landscape made of pits, fissures, caves, galleries, and abysses penetrating the bowels of the earth.
The geological variety therefore implies a mosaic of morphological landscapes, often with distinctive and unique features, like high-mountain karst-nival environments shaped by the glaciers, and subsequently by snow and karst phenomena.
The Park covers mainly an area of middle-high altitudes with few inhabitants. Nevertheless, there are many traces left by man and witnessing his presence.
The D.P.R. according to which the Park Authority was created also extended the boundaries of the Park in order to include two precious historical sites. The Certosa di Vedana, situated near the homonymous lake in the Town of Sospirolo, is an extraordinary architectural site which needs restoration. Another extraordinary site is that of the former mines of Valle Imperina, in the Town of Rivamonte where the restoration activities have already started in the attempt to partially recover these mines which for centuries have marked the economy and the landscape of the Agordino region.