Postponed to spring 2021: Symposium on the inner-Alpine dry meadows of the Terra Raetica

The dry grasslands of the Vinschgau Valley have long been known to nature lovers from near and far. In a one-day symposium in spring 2021 in Silandro/Schlanders (Northern Italy, Bolzano province), the special features of this unique habitat will be presented, for the first time, to a wider audience.

The famous botanist Josias Braun-Blanquet dedicated one of his main works to the inner-Alpine dry grasslands. Surprisingly, they are inhabited by animals and plants that are usually found only in the Hungarian lowlands and the steppes of Central Asia – for example the milkvetch Astragalus exscapus to the steppe grasshopper Chorthippus vagans and the colorful ladybird spider Eresus kollari. The unique features of the dry grasslands of the Vinschgau Valley, which is surrounded by high mountain ranges such as the Ortler and Weißkugel groups, result from low annual precipitation and steep slopes that heat up in summer but freeze during winter.

The conference is organized by Eurac Research, the Museum of Nature of South Tyrol, the Department of Nature of the Province of Bolzano and the Municipality of Silandro. The symposium intends to be a meeting place for experts and aims to raise public awareness of this interesting grassland type. The original idea for the conference came from the “Dry Grassland Working Group” of the Interreg region Terra Raetica in the border triangle of Austria, Italy and Switzerland.

The conference will be opened with a lecture by Eurasian Dry Grassland Group (EDGG) secretary general Jürgen Dengler, followed by a talk on the global importance of the steppe islands in the Alps by Philipp Kirschner from the University of Innsbruck. More talks on the bird and butterfly fauna and the dry grassland flora as well as lectures on the cultural history and the conservation of the dry grasslands in the Vinschgau valley will complete the symposium. Guest contributions from the other parts of the Terra Raetica, the Lower Engadine, Val Müstair and the Upper Inn Valley will also be included.

The conference will take place at the Kulturhaus Karl Schönherr in Silandro from 9:00 to 18:00 in spring 2021.