News | Exploring the Dolomiti d’Ampezzo Natural Park
Exploring the Protected Areas in the UNESCO Dolomites World Heritage Site – part four
Exploring the Dolomiti d’Ampezzo Natural Park
“Throughout history we have always managed our natural resources by ourselves, so the management of the park is neither public nor private, it is community-oriented. This is what makes the Dolomiti d’Ampezzo Park such an exceptional protected area within the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park representatives are not politicians, they are voted by the people. Ours is an example of an ancient democratic tradition which is well aware of the importance of careful management of its natural resources.”
Michele da Pozzo, the director of the Dolomiti d’Ampezzo Natural Park
Brief presentation of the Dolomiti d’Ampezzo Natural Park
Designated a protected area in 1990, the Dolomiti d’Ampezzo Natural Park covers an area of 11,200 hectares entirely within the Municipality of Cortina d’Ampezzo, once the property of the local land management institution Le Regole d’Ampezzo. Bounded to the north by the Fanes-Senes-Braies parkland, the land in the Province of Belluno together with that in Alto Adige forms a single complex with similar environmental features. The Ampezzo Dolomites include the Cristallo, Tofane and Lagazuoi chains. This natural parkland, established to safeguard the unique, priceless geological and natural heritage of this area, has chosen as its symbol the sempervivum dolomiticum, also known as the houseleek, a plant that is endemic exclusively to the Ampezzo Dolomites.
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Interview with the director of the Dolomiti d’Ampezzo Natural Park,
Michele da Pozzo
The Dolomiti d’Ampezzo Park as explained by director Michele da Pozzo, with its specialised variety of flora and fauna, deseasonalisation of tourism and the ancient democracy of the Regole d’Ampezzo.
How has the Park changed since UNESCO inscription in 2009?
“The Dolomiti d’Ampezzo Park hasn’t changed since inscription in 2009, as far as the institution or our management are concerned.
What has changed is the kind of visitors we are getting, in fact we have recorded an increase in foreign tourists. Our area has welcomed foreign tourists for years now, but after inscription these numbers have definitely increased. Tourists are coming more out of high season and want more information about the environment and the activities on offer in the park. The interest visitors have for our area is becoming more and more specialised, showing particular interest in the special species of flora and fauna we have. Our reaction to these requests has been to organise more courses run directly by Alpine and nature guides in the area who work with the park. We have also seen a rise in job opportunities thanks to inscription, guides being a case in point. But it’s not all good news, we have noticed an increase in traffic, especially motorbikes and bicycles, which needs better organisation and supervision as it is actually dangerous. During the high season when we are overcrowded, we are very busy.
Our experience has taught us that, in areas like ours with a high percentage of tourists, visitor concentrations in certain areas and at specific times of the year do not upset the equilibrium of the fauna, which is actually used to this presence and therefore emigrates to neighbouring areas which are visited by fewer tourists. To respect environmental balances, we tend not to create new trails in areas with high tourist density like ours, thus avoiding interaction between man and the environment in areas which are still wild.“
Why is it important to be part of the Foundation and a Supporter and active member?
“I truly believe that UNESCO inscription and the subsequent establishment of the Foundation couldn’t have come at a better time.
An Alpine Park Network had been set up a while ago and initially, 20 years ago, we all belonged to it; it was very active. Over the years, the tendency to exchange ideas and experiences gradually began to die out for a variety of reasons and that was when the idea of inscription was first aired, giving us renewed motivation to work together and create a network of protected areas.“
Within the scope of the UNESCO Dolomites Site, what added value does the Dolomiti d’Ampezzo Natural Park have to offer?
“The key feature of the Dolomiti d’Ampezzo Park is its community management model. The park is actually owned and run by the Regole d’Ampezzo, an institution with collective rights to managing the territory and with more than one thousand years of history behind it. Ours is one of the five natural parks in the Veneto Region.
Throughout history we have always managed our natural resources by ourselves, so the management of the park is neither public nor private, it is community-oriented. This is what makes the Dolomiti d’Ampezzo Park such an exceptional protected area within the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park representatives are not politicians, they are voted by the people. Ours is an example of an ancient democratic tradition which is well aware of the importance of careful management of its natural resources.
Thanks to the Regole and the collectively managed territories, over the years the natural areas and services for tourists and residents have developed hand-in-hand. The area managed by the Regole and used for tourist infrastructures is 2.2% of the total of the collectively run area, which covers 20,000 hectares (of which 11,000 are parkland).“