Forests

South Tyrol is a woodland: About half of the area is covered with forest. Not all forests are the same and the variety of forest types in South Tyrol is enormous. For the Biodiversity Monitoring, we selected the most important and representative forest types. In total, we chose six different forest types at all altitudes, four deciduous forests and two coniferous forests. We survey 10 areas for every type of forest.

Riparian forests
Manna Ash-Hop Hornbeam forests
Oak forests
Beech forests
Spruce and Silver Fir forests
Larch-Swiss Pine forests

Riparian forests

Once the valley bottoms of South Tyrol were covered by riparian forests, swamps and alluvial areas. Human settlement gradually replaced these habitats with settlement and agricultural areas. Nowadays we find only small remnants of riparian forests in our valleys. Nevertheless, these are true centres of biodiversity. Many animal and plant species in South Tyrol only occur in this habitat. With the Biodiversity Monitoring South Tyrol, we are investigating 10 riparian forests in all parts of the country.

Yellow archangel (Galeobdolon flavidum), lower Sarntal/Val Sarentino

Marsh wood next to Tisens/Tesimo

Fly honeysuckle (Lonicera xylosteum) next to Klausen/Chiusa

Riparian forest with five-leaflet bitter-cress (Cardamine pentaphyllos) next to Kaltern/Caldaro

Manna Ash-Hop Hornbeam forests

South Tyrol already possesses numerous natural elements of the South due to its warm location on the southern side of the Alps. Some sub-Mediterranean tree species stand out in particular, and these form dense forest stands in the warmest parts of the country. Hop Hornbeam and Manna Ash colonise areas well supplied with water and debris-rich limestone and silicate slopes. In the shelter of the forest we find a special flora and fauna also with numerous naturally southern elements. With Biodiversity Monitoring South Tyrol 10 areas are being investigated. Among these areas there are both areas affected by human influence and very near-natural ones.

Hop hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia) next to Bolzano/Bozen

Young leaves of hop-hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia)

Flowering manna ash (Fraxinus ornus) next to Brixen/Bressanone

Hop-hornbeam forest next to Burgstall/Postal

Oak forests

The Downy Oak is an element that is largely missing north of the Brenner. The deciduous Oak is a typical sub-Mediterranean floral element and often occurs together with another oak species, the Sessile Oak and with the Red Pine. In contrast to the Hop Hornbeam, the Downy Oak penetrates far into the valleys and even reaches colder areas, such as the upper Venosta Valley or the Puster Valley. The forest stands often occur on barren rocks and are interlocked with dry grassland. With the Biodiversity Monitoring South Tyrol, 10 areas are being examined between the middle Puster Valley and the upper Venosta Valley.

Bloody crane's-bill (Geranium sanguineum) next to Bolzano/Bozen

Seedlings of sessile oak (Quercus petraea) next to Mittewald/Mezzaselva

Dittany (Dictamnus albus) next to Bolzano/Bozen

Oak forest next to Burgstall/Postal

Beech forests

Beech is a species that avoids the most continental areas in the interior of the Alps. Therefore, in South Tyrol it is almost completely absent in the Venosta, Isarco and Puster valleys. The main focus of its distribution is in the south of the country, penetrating deep into the Passiria valley. Here, it usually forms a band between Mediterranean bush forests and spruce forests. Beech forests are often dark and therefore hinder the growth of other plant species. Besides the pure stands, we also find stands with fir and spruce. With the Biodiversity Monitoring South Tyrol, a total of 10 areas are being studied.

Beech branch (Fagus sylvatica)

Beech seedlings

Sweetscented bedstraw (Galium odoratum) is a typical plant of beech forests

Beech forest in Laurein/Lauregno

Spruce and Silver Fir forests

The Spruce is the most important tree species in South Tyrol in terms of spatial distribution. It dominates large parts of the montane stage. In many cases, these are naturally pure stands. A larger proportion of larches is evidence of disturbance, for example through erosion or former human influences. In more humid, Atlantic locations the Silver Fir plays a major role. The stands are usually dark and rich in mosses and ferns. With the Biodiversity Monitoring South Tyrol, a total of 10 sites are being examined.

Botanical survey in a spruce forest in the Flaggertal next to Mittewald/Mezzaselva

Branch of spruce (Picea abies)

Wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella) is a typical inhabitant of spruce forests

Spruce forest in the Flaggertal next to Mittewald/Mezzaselva

Larch-Swiss Pine forests

Above the sea level of about 1800m, the spruce recedes and gives way to other conifers. Mostly, the coniferous forests of the subalpine stage are a mixture of Larch and Swiss Stone Pine. In comparison to spruce forests, the stands are lighter and dwarf shrubs are more common in the undergrowth. In many cases the stands were already opened for pasture use in prehistoric times. While the Swiss Stone dominates in stands that have been long undisturbed, the larch often indicates a former use by humans. A total of 10 sites will be investigated in the Biodiversity Monitoring.

Blueberry shrub (Vaccinium myrtillus)

Branch of larch in autumn; Larches (Larix decidua) are the only deciduous conifers in the Alps

Seedling of larch (Larix decidua)

Subalpine larch-stone pine forest

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