No Warnings and notice
This area of the territory is extremely diversified in terms of the orography of the territory and according to the type of environments present which host a wide variety of plant and animal species. Here there is approximately 46% of the mammal species of Italian fauna, 32% of breeding birds found in Italy, 17% of reptiles and 30% of amphibians. There are 216 species of vertebrates of which 43 species include faunistic emergencies (endemic species and those which are risk becoming extinct or which are on the priority list).
In the protected areas there are endangered species such as the Marsican bear, here there are 3-5 examples; species such as the Apennine wolf, the golden eagle, the griffon-vulture, the splendid vulture re-introduced by the State Forestry Corps, the white-backed woodpecker and the goshawk, these latter species are rare today and are endangered due to the forest environment yet here there are large forests where they can breed. Rock walls and cliffs offer habitats that are also suitable for the breeding of the peregrine falcon, the eagle owl, the Alpine chough and the extremely rare lanner falcon.
Some less known species yet which are just as rare are present in the protected area, such as the Italian hare and the alpine longicorn Rosalia alpina, an extremely coloured beetle associated with the mature beech woodlands. The protected area is also mentioned by studies carried out on a national scale as being among the few Apennine areas suitable for the re-introduction of the Apennine chamois.
Apart from the Marsican Bear and the Apennine Wolf, the mammals include: the Wild Cat, the Marten, the Deer, the Roe-deer, the Hedgehog, the dormouse. The birds include: the Kingfisher, the Chough, the Sparrow hawk, the Raven, the Wall creeper, the Woodpecker, the Chaffinch, the Rock Partridge, the Shrike, the Woodlark. The reptiles include, apart from the extremely rare Orsini viper, the Coluber, the Whip snake, the Western Whip Snake. The amphibians include the Apennine Salamander, the Spectacled Salamander, the Smooth Newt, the Apennine Red Frog, the Italian tree frog.
The area consists of a great example of plant biodiversity: to date 1,570 species have been identified, grouped into 516 genes and 102 families. Among these, 116 emergency floral species have been identified (endemisms, glacial relics, disjunct or fragmentary distribution of species and rare species) and including particularly rare species such as, the Mountain Tragacanth which is present only in certain mountain areas in Abruzzo and the Apennine pheasant’s eye present only in certain areas of the central Apennines, there are also remarkable blossoms of orchids, narcissi, as well as the rare peonies and the Eugeniae violet. The vegetation present on the slopes of Mount Sirente consists mainly of Beech woodlands along the North slope that stretch for about 12 km from Gagliano Aterno up to Anatella near to the Rocche Plateau. Another rare plant that is considered a glacial relic is the Birch, the Nordic plant par excellence, present both in the Sirente and the Velino areas.
While at a lower altitude, below 1,500 m. there are the mixed –woodlands of broad-leaved plants with a predominance of Downy Oak and Hop hornbeam as well as the presence of many species of Maple, Whitebeam, Turkey Oak, as well as the various wood types of the undergrowth such as wild rose, hawthorn, blackthorn, jupiter, etc. Along the Aterno valley there is a prevalence of bank vegetation such as Willows, Poplars and others. In the meadows at higher levels there are the Juniper, the Sesleria apennina, while the white alpine poppy stands out on the detrital sheets of breccia. In the Piano Canale meadows, you can admire the blossoms of several species of Gentian and an exclusive species for the Sirente area: the Geum heterocarpum. At all altitudes it is possible to admire an extraordinary variety of flowers: the martagon lily, the red lily, the Great Gentian, the Wild Narcissus, the red and yellow Elderflower Orchid, Calabria Orchid. The magnificent blooming narcissus fields with the Poet’s Daffodils are wonderful to admire in spring. The Alpine Pasqueflower, called the “wind flower” has found its habitat on Mount Velino; it has been seen at a height of over 2,000m in fields close to scree slopes and snowfields. There is a wealth of forest fruits such as strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, red currents, gooseberries.
The mushrooms which can be found all over the Park and in particular must not be forgotten and in particular, as regards the Sirente area, it is important to point out the presence of the thermophile oak of the black truffle that, in particular as for the High Aterno valley, this represents an important economic resource. Finally, there is saffron, a typical plant found in the Fagnano and Tione areas.
As far as geology is concerned, in the area covered by the Consortium there is a considerable presence of Mesozoic formations, with Cretaceous organogenic limestone which most of the mountain massifs are composed of; moreover there are also limestone formations dating back to the Jurassic era. The Tertiary formations, including marny limestone deposits of the Lower Miocene are extremely evident and re-traceable, both on the south-west slope and further north on the Sirente mountain chain, with mountain layer debris, and Molassic sediments of the Middle-Upper Miocene can be found on the Rocche Plateau. However, the most recent Quaternary lands play, without doubt, a leading role in the determination of the morphological structure of the entire area due to their diverse origin and composition. The events of this geological period (alluvial deposits, the remains of glacialism, karst and river erosion) are, in fact, those which are most clearly evident and more directly responsible for the appearance of the current landscape. The alluvial deposits which come from ancient glacial lakes, have now become splendid plateaus set deep between the mountain ranges. It is important to point out, even if only to mention the most extensive, the Pezza Plains, the Rocche and Campo Felice plateaus, the Sirente Fields. Mounts Sirente, Magnola and Velino are proof of the ancient presence of glaciers, not only the numerous glacial cirques scattered here and there on several peaks, but also the remains of the relative moraines that sometimes stretch out, as on the North-West slope of Mount Sirente, also for several kilometres.
The karst phenomenon is widespread in the area covered by the Consortium. It is extremely easy and frequent to find sinkholes, caves, dolines that show how this phenomenon is still particularly active today. Among the various karst events of considerable interest is the sinkhole of Terranera, the so-called “Pozzo Caldaio” situated in the closed basin of Rocca di Cambio, where the waters of the plain disappear, then they reappear, further East, in the resurgence of the Stiffe Caves, where there is a wealth of spectacular limestone concretions protected by a landscape bond. From the cave, that can be reached from the hamlet of Stiffe, in the municipality of San Demetrio nei Vestini, the water flows out in a wild environment with remarkable water drops and rocky crags, covered with grass and shrub vegetation which create both a great evocative visual and sound effect. In turn, the waters go to enrich the flow of the river Aterno that crosses the Aterno and Subequana Valleys.
River erosion, when compared to the karst phenomenon is undoubtedly less extensive. Yet it is no less spectacular, as can be seen in the Celano Gorges, approximately 5 km long and sections of which are extremely narrow, with high vertical walls which are over 100m thick. This real canyon, carved out by the La Foce torrent, in the Arano Valley, at a height of 1,300 m, South-East of Ovindoli, has also been protected by a landscape bond. The torrent, that crosses the bottom of the canyon, has an abundance of water in springtime. The steep gorge walls, tens of metres high, form a characteristic rupiculous habitat, where a variety of vegetation grows and where several species of birds breed.
The Sirente-Velino mountain range forms a kind of connection through which the wildlife goes from one side of the Apennines to the other. It is of strategic topographic importance, in that it represents an essential connection between the Reatino, northern Simbruini mountain ranges, the area of the National Parks of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise (to the South-East) as well as the Gran Sasso National Park and the Laga Mountains (to the north).
The two massifs show both differences and similarities both as regards the vegetation that covers their slopes and with reference to their origins. Although the two ranges are separated from the Rocche Plateau, they can be considered individually as concerns the same geological and tectonic origin.
The Velino mountain range is mostly without any apparent vegetation with predominance of semi-desert areas, while the Sirente mountain range (except for some areas to the South and on the peaks) hosts widespread, thriving plant formations.