The Park's habitats
Trudner Horn / Monte Corno Nature Park consists of two totally different types of rock. The western part of the park, situated near the Etsch / Adige river, is mainly made up of whitish limestone and dolomite rock (as is the case in Cislon and on Königswiese / Prato del Re, Madrut / Madrutta and Geier mountains), while the center and eastern sections of the park are composed of brownish and reddish quartz porphyry. Trudner Horn / Monte Corno mountain (1,817 m) is also composed of this type of rock.
Approximately 300 million years ago, blistering eruptions of lava bursting out of the raptured Earth’s crust formed the quartz-containing porphyry of Bozen / Bolzano. On this porphyry there is a stratum of Gröden/ Val Gardena sandstone, which resulted from a dry climate, followed by the Bellerophon and Werfen strata which are deposits of shallow lagoons of the Thetys sea and finally the dolomite limestone strata reaching heights of 1,500 m (Sarl / Serla Dolomite, Schlern / Sciliar Dolomite and Main Dolomite). This sequence of strata formation is clearly visible in Trudner Bach / Rio di Trodena.
However, between Gschnon / Casignano and Gfriller Sattel / Passo di Cauria, the considerably older porphyry lies right next to the far younger Dolomite limestone. This is because during the folding of the Alps, huge earth movements lifted the porphyritic block some 2,000 meters in the east along the Truden line. And this is why the porphyry stratum is located higher than the dolomite. The strata above the porphyry were then eroded away. The Trudner / Trodena fault line, which forms the boundary between Schwarzhorn / La Rocca and Weißhorn / Corno Bianco, runs straight across the park and is 27.5 kilometers long.
During the last major ice age, the area that is now the nature park was almost entirely covered by glaciers, which gave the porphyry rocks their present dome-like shapes and deposited loamy moraine detritus on even plains. Hence porphyritic areas hold large amounts of water and thus host numerous wetlands and boggy areas (the moors at Weissensee / Lago bianco, Schwarzsee / Gampen and Langes Moos / Palù Longa).
The tendency of the dolomite rock to karst development, on the other hand, brought about a subterranean drainage system, resulting from the formation of a highly ramified system of crevices and fissures.
Flora and fauna
The distribution of animal and plant species depends on factors such as altitude, climate, water, soil, solar radiation and air humidity. The plant communities in Trudner Horn / Monte Corno Nature Park offer a vast diversity, which ranges from the sub-alpine spruce woods to the sub-Mediterranean coppice woods, the latter needing much higher temperatures. The calcareous soils exhibit steppe-like grasses, coppice, Scots pine woods and mixed forests. The high porphyry plains with their abundance of water are covered with lavish coniferous woods interspersed with damp meadows and moors.
In Trudner Horn / Monte Corno Nature Park, coppice with hop hornbeams, downy oaks and manna ashes reaches its northern climate limits. Though at first sight this coppice may seem a rather monotonous landscape, it nonetheless hosts a great diversity of species year round. In late winter the yellow blossoms of cornel trees, which bear red fruit in summer, appear on the bare branches. At the end of April the white umbels of the Mahaleb cherry can be seen.
One of the most exquisite creatures of the sub-Mediterranean zone is the green lizard. On hot days the strident chirping of the cicada can be heard and the praying mantis lurks in the bushes.
Scots pines, which need abundant light, predominate in barren places. As pioneer plants, they are better adapted to such areas than the more exacting species of trees. Under the light canopy heather, dwarf-sedges, bearberries and bracken ferns can be seen. These pine woods are an ideal habitat for various birds and small animals. In the rocky areas, wood mice and badgers find ideal conditions to build their dens. In the dry Scots pine woods a special “pine-race” of the European red wood ant is found. Also typical for these areas is the pine procession moth with its conspicuous white nests in the treetops of Scots pines. The northern and the western slopes of Königswiese / Prato del Re and Cislon host magnificent beeches and firs. In relatively humid valleys and basins, beeches grow far into the sub-Mediterranean climatic zone and co-exist with yews, littleleaf linden, hop hornbeams and maples. Cloven-hoofed game favour these forests. There are also numerous species of birds, among them the nuthatch, woodpecker and owl, that either build their nests in these mixed forests or nest in tree holes.
At an altitude of around 1,000 m, spruce and fir forests, interspersed with larches, mountain-ashes and Alpine clematises, supplant the beech forests.
The park also features grasslands with larches on the large porphyry plateau between Truden / Trodena and Altrei / Anterivo. They are often covered with flowers such as soldanels, crocuses, orange lilies and Martagon lilies. The living conditions for animals in these forests are about the same as in the Scots pine forests; observed here are mammals and birds that like building their dens and breeding places in the cracked bark or holes of old trees or in piles of stones and twigs. As for insects, some specialists such as the larch bud moth and larch casebearer live in these areas. A sub-Alpine spruce forest, interspersed with scattered cembra pines, covers the rugged terrain around Hornspitz / Monte Corno and Weißsee / Lago Bianco. It is only at this extreme altitude that the raven and the mountain hare are found. The bogs at Weissensee / Lago Bianco, Schwarzsee/ Gampen and Langes Moos / Palù Lunga are jewels of nature. While birches and pines only find a meager existence in these areas, sundews and butterworts are able to supplement their diet with insects, as they are carnivorous plants.
A sub-Alpine spruce forest, interspersed with scattered cembra pines, covers the rugged terrain around Hornspitz / Monte Corno and Weißsee / Lago Bianco. It is only at this extreme altitude that the raven and the mountain hare are found. The bogs at Weissensee / Lago Bianco, Schwarzsee/ Gampen and Langes Moos / Palù Lunga are jewels of nature. While birches and pines only find a meager existence in these areas, sundews and butterworts are able to supplement their diet with insects, as they are carnivorous plants.
The human factor
Key trade routes passed through the southern portion of South Tyrol for thousands of years. St. Florian / San Floriano near Laag / Laghetti and in particular the road hospice Klösterle, which was founded in the 11th or 12th century, were key facilities for travelers making their way between central and southern Europe. Albrecht Dürer is said to have stayed there before continuing on his way to Venice via Sauch saddle, and then to Cembra and the earth pyramids of Segonzano. This constituted an alternative route when the Etsch / Adige river flooded the valley, as it so often did.
A secondary road of the former trade route also led from Fleimstal / Val di Fiemme valley via Truden / Trodena saddle to Etschtal / Adige valley. Transport of goods on pack animals was so widespread in the 14th century that Truden / Trodena needed no fewer than five notaries, as a court trial from 1345 shows. This trade route became less important when, in the early 20th century, a passenger and freight railroad line known as the Fleimstal / Val di Fiemme valley train was built between Auer / Ora and Montan / Montagna. The line was built by 3,900 civilian workers, 600 soldiers, and 1,500 POWs, most of them Russian. Despite its profitability, the Fleimstal / Val di Fiemme valley train went out of business in January 1963 and passenger service was provided by buses instead.
The communities of Altrei / Anterivo, Truden im Naturpark / Trodena nel parco naturale and Salurn / Salorno are located on the German and Italian language boundary . In the valley, Etsch / Adige river floods formed a natural boundary between the German and Italian language area. Haderburg fortress, which is perched on a rocky tower and the landmark of Salurn / Salorno village, was of key strategic importance.
Around 1,000 meters above the Etsch / Adige plain in Truden im Naturpark / Trodena nel parco natural and Altrei / Anterivo, the settlement structure and man-made landscapes reflect the affinity with the former Roman settlements in Fleimstal / Val di Fiemme and Cembra valleys. Time seems to have stood still in these Romanesque towns.
The fact that Roman “land tenure” law used to be the law of the land here is reflected by the area’s myriad minute parcels of land and the presence of countless part-time farms. These unusual social and economic arrangements have favoured the fact, that nature is on the rise again. Many mountain pastures have been abandoned, hay barns are starting to crumble, hardy grasses are becoming ever more widespread, and white birch, alders, hazels, larches and firs have begun to take over, having been displaced centuries ago by spruce and fir forests.
Efforts are being made to reclaim some of these unused areas through various measures and funding programs, with the goal of preserving the nature park’s habitat diversity and promoting the development of habitats in which flora and fauna can thrive.