DODERDO LAKE | ITALY
The wetland is an exceptional landscape which stands out against the varied, mainly arid, Karst landscape and also offers other different habitats. This reserve is located in the municipalities of Monfalcone, Ronchi dei Legionari and Doberdò del Lago (Doberdob) where a visitors’ centre provides information and educational information about the area. The “Conver” visitors’ centre, not far from the Pietrarossa lake, will soon be inaugurated. It will host many projects aimed at restoring the barren Karst land and reintroducing the local Karst sheep.
The whole reserve can be explored by taking the many trekking itineraries leading to panoramic observation points or, military tracks leading to the remains of old trenches.
Lake Doberdò and the Lake Circonio (Cerknica, Slovenia) are rare examples of Karst lakes in Europe. Lake Doberdò is in a hollow created by the lowering of Karst highlands and is fed by an underground network formed by the Isonzo and Vipacco rivers. When the level of these rivers decreases, the water of the lake runs out throughswallowholes, sometimes creating a network of very strong currents.
The resulting wetland is basically an almost completely filled-in marsh, where different species of vegetation are arranged in seemingly concentric rings, each corresponding to the varying depth of the water. They range from the snowdrop related sedges (Leucojum Aestivum), and their impressive flowers, the Phragmites Australis bulrushes and further out, to the aquatic plants such as the water lily.
The fauna also includes the olm (Proteus Anguinus) an eel-like salamander which is endemic to this area.
Particularly interesting is the small Pietrarossa Lake, which is completely immersed in riparian vegetation and surrounded by grey willows which grow densely along the shores: an important refuge for many water birds which seem to live undisturbed and effectively protected by the thick vegetation, and totally unaffected by the noise from the nearby highway.
LAGO MISURINA | VENETO REGION
Lake Misurina is the largest natural lake of the Cadore and it is 1,754 m above sea level, near Auronzo di Cadore in the Belluno Province. The lake's perimeter is 2.6 km long, while the maximum depth is 5 m. Near the lake there are about ten hotels with accommodation for around 500 people. The particular climatic characteristics of the area around the lake, make particularly good air for those who have respiratory diseases. Near the lake is the only center in Italy for the care of childhood asthma. The lake was the theme of a famous song by Claudio Baglioni. Lake Misurina is also the theme of the theatrical representation of the Longane di Lozzo. Lake Misurina is where the speed skating events were held during the 1956 Winter Olympics of Cortina d'Ampezzo – the last time Olympic speed skating events were held on natural ice. Misurina lies on the route of the Dolomites Gold Cup Race.
There are at least two different legends associated with Lake Misurina.
In the first one, which was also made famous by a song named "Sabato pomeriggio" by Claudio Baglioni, Misurina is a little capricious and spiteful girl who lives literally held in the palm of the hand of her gigantic father, the king Sorapiss that, to fulfill another desire and obtain for her the magic mirror from the Queen of Monte Cristallo, he is transformed into a mountain. During the last stages of the transformation he sees his daughter fall and her tears flow like rivers and form the lake beneath which his daughter will forever lie with the magic mirror.
In the second one, Mesurina (who is later nicknamed) is a daughter of wealthy merchants from Venice who send her away in the mountains by her father anxious not to fulfill a prophecy that would see the girl give away all their possessions. Following some tragic amorous events than vaguely reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet, the girl dies, and she is recognized on the point of death by a lover whom she met in bloom and from whom she was brought away by deception from the stables of his father and a servant sent by him.
LAKE CORNINO | ITALY
Lake Carnino nature Reserve covers an area of 510 hectares on the extreme south-west border of the Carnia pre-alps and is surrounded by a splendid landscape. Its severe rock faces and its screes act as a backdrop to the wide bed of the Tagliamento river.
Besides the mountains and the river, the Reserve also boasts a crystal-clear lake rich in flora and fauna, encouraged by its mild climate. In this specific area, the Tagliamento river is over a kilometre wide. The karst morphology appears severe and wild, with evident contrasts in the landscape. The Mount Prat plateau stretches out on top of the rocky slopes, and it is interspersed with woodland, meadows and grazing lands that overlook the Arzino valley to the west. Lake Cornino lies in a vast hollow carved out by landslides which occurred after the retreat of the glacier. The Lake is 8,500 square metres wide and 8 metres deep, it has a green-azure colour and is fed by subterranean karst currents.
The rock faces of the area are made up of layers of limestone, which contain many fossils. Common among theses are the fingerprint-shaped ellispactine organisms which were responsible for the formation of the coral-type reefs. There are also fossils of other species such as seaweeds, sea urchins and small shellfish. The fragments breaking away from the rocky surfaces surrounding the plateau, have formed wide scree-covered areas over the centuries: this is due to strike faults that have created strips which are more easily subject to erosion. The Tagliamento river is considered to be the “king of alpine rivers”. It is the only river with a primarily natural bed and therefore of great interest from the nature viewpoint. Research on its morphology and vegetation is also carried out here. The Reserve includes an area measuring about 6 kilometres in length, which is the only section out of the 170 km-long river to be part of a protected area. The river bed separates the Reserve from the Osoppo plain, which is surrounded by the Carnia and Julian pre-alps. The plain was formed by huge glaciers during the glacial period, roughly between 75 and 10 thousand years ago. As these moved down from the Alps, they deeply eroded the ground and the edges of this area by forming ridges of debris resulting in the creation of the morainic Amphitheatre of the Tagliamento river. As the glaciers retreated, such ridges acted as natural barriers which dammed up the Tagliamento river resulting in the formation of a huge lake. The lake stretched northwards up to Venzone and Somplago from which some islands emerged and later formed the Osoppo hills.
Much later, the Tagliamento river carried huge quantities of alluvial soil down into the lake. Now, only the Cavazzo Lake and a huge water table, which is one of the most important waterresourcesof the region, remain. Traces of glaciers are evident in the Reserve and as can be seen by the moraine on the Mount Prat plateau, which was formed by masses of rock carried down from the Carnic chain of mountains, and by its sheer rock walls.
The differences in landscape are characterised by the different species of vegetation. Flora typical of alpine areas cohabits with that usually found in hot, dry, Mediterranean climates and with South-European and Illyric-Balcanic species.
The orientation of the rocky slopes and the reflection of the sun on the river bed have an insulation effect, which results in a particularly mild climate for the thermophiles which are usually found along the coast or in southern regions. Particularly surprising is the presence of holm oaks (Quercus ilex) in the rocky areas, whose lush green is specially vivid during winter and contrasts with the thermophilous woodland scattered across the slopes.
The vegetation of the Tagliamento river is sparse and discontinuous, it is characterized by pioneer or unstable species living on the gravel of the bed, which are rare or endemic to this environment. The fauna includes many species, which are typical of different habitats including the mountains, the plains and the marshes, but it is particularly interesting for the bird species found in the area. Lakes and ponds are favourable places for herons, little ringed plovers, ducks and gulls, while the barren and steppe-like river beds host the woodlark (Lullula arborea) and the goatsucker (Caprimulgus europaeus). The woodland hosts many thermophile species such as the white Western Bonelli Warbler (Phylloscopus bonelli) and the rock bunting (Emberiza cia). However, the rocky areas are the most interesting ones as they house colonies of rock-birds such as the raven (Corvus corax) and the crag martin (Ptyonoprogne rupestris). For some rare and precious species such as the peregrine (Falco peregrinus), the eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) and the black kite (Milvus migrans) this is the best nesting site in the region.
It is also particularly important for its birds of prey and is one of the most interesting Alpine areas for bird watching. During the eighties, the griffon (Gyps fulvus) was successfully re-introduced in the Reserve. It is a kind of vulture with a wingspan of nearly 3 metres and 8-12 kg in weight. Many examples have started to nest on the nearby rocky slopes and have formed a colony which today boasts somewhere between 60 and 100 griffons spread over the Eastern Alps. This colony attracts those griffons coming from other European areas, in particular those arriving from Croatia during the summer season.
The project of reintroduction includes many research and promotional activities.It also allows birdwatchers to easily observe this beautiful vulture in one of the few remaining habitats of Central Europe where it is still present. There are many different itineraries which allow visitors to enjoy the nature and the landscape of this area. These itineraries are linked to the main routes which already exist in this pre-alpine area and also offer the possibility of longer and more demanding excursions. The starting point is the visitors’ Centre of the Reserve, located northwards of Somp Cornino, where visitors can admire the most important examples of the fauna, find information and educational tools relating to all the naturalistic and environmental aspects of the area.