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Forest aspects of the Park

The forest patrimony covers more than half of the territory of the protected area. About two thirds consist of woods and the other part of shrubland.

The temperate deciduous forest predominates and develops in different types: beech forests, turkey oak forests, downy oak forests, hop hornbeam forests, riparian hygrophilous formations, with just one relict group of silver birch (Betula pendula). Evergreen plants form dwarf mountain-pine forests, local black pine (Pinus nigra var. italica) forests, reforestations of different types of conifers, junipers forests and holly oak forests which grow at lower altitudes on the steepest grounds.

The most widespread physiognomic typology is the beech wood, which occupies almost 30% of the Park's territory. It is present in the mountain zone between 1,000 and 1,800 m of altitude. At a lower altitudes there are oak woods and thermophilic mixed deciduous forests; higher, up to 2,300-2,400 m a.s.l., there are subalpine shrubs, which are formations of prostrate dwarf mountain-pine (Pinus mugo), Alpine juniper (Juniperus communis var. saxatilis) or pinemat manzanita (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi).

Majella dwarf mountain-pine population, representing the most extended within the Apennines, is very important in regard to biogeographical and conservation aspects, as dwarf mountain-pine is a rare species having in Abruzzo the southern limit of its distribution. On the contrary, the Lobel's maple (Acer lobelii), a woody endemic species linked to beech woods, has in the very Park, along the Adriatic side, its northern limit.

The intense use of natural resources in the past centuries has reduced both the extension and the structural / functional complexity of the forest, which is generally very far from a condition of authentic biocenosis. Nonetheless, in the last decades the forest has recovered surface and structure and it's possible to state that during the last century the territory has never been so wooded. This is due to the decline of agro-pastoral activities since the second postwar period, which has activated dynamic processes within the vegetation, as well as in forest management of the protected area: according to the Park's Plan, management activities are aimed at the recovery of the naturalness of forest formations.

Within the Park there are also old -growth forests, characterized by the presence of very big wood specimens and a lot of dead wood, as well as by a high diversity of species. Some examples are the the St. Antonio wood at Pescocostanzo and some parts of the beech wood in the territories of Palena and Pizzoferrato.

Image of the wood of "Valle dell'Orfento"
Image of the beech wood of "Valle dell'Orfento"
Image of the Alpine juniper
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