Natura 2000 is an ecological network of special protected areas set up by the European Union in order to ensure biodiversity by conserving natural habitats and wild fauna and flora in the territory of the Member States. It was established by Council Directive 92/43/EEC, known as the “Habitats Directive”, in order to help maintain biodiversity within Member States by defining a common framework for the conservation of wild plants and animals and habitats of Community interest.
The “Natura 2000” network comprises Special Areas of Conservation designated by Member States under the current Directive, as well as Special Protection Areas classified pursuant to "Wild birds" Directive 2009/147/EC.
In Italy, the “Natura 2000” network covers about 20% of the national territory. The Regional governments have identified 2288 Sites of Community Importance and 597 Special Protection Areas; 321 sites of community importance coincide with special protection areas.
Ecological networks and biodiversity in the Veneto region
The protection of biodiversity in the Veneto region takes place mainly through the establishment and management of protected areas (parks and reserves) and of areas included in the European ecological network “Natura 2000”. In the Veneto Region there are currently 128 sites belonging to the “Natura 2000” network, with 67 special protection areas and 102 sites of community importance, sometimes overlapping, covering a total of 414,675 hectares (22.5% of the regional territory) – SEE here the map of the protected areas in the Veneto region.
Site of Community Importance IT 3210002 – Lessini Mountains: Molina Waterfalls
The site is particularly interesting for various reasons, as it is characterized by several biologically relevant elements, as well as by important geological and geomorphological elements.
A key environmental aspect is the surface hydrographic network, which caused the creation of the Molina Waterfalls and the presence of rare species closely related to the aquatic environment.
The protected area is limited to the upper Fumane Valley and to some of its lateral branches, such as the Vajo delle Scalucce and the Sorda Valley. SEE here the map of the protected areas in our valley.
The valley is characterized by steep slopes covered by thermo-mesophile woods, in particular by Orno-Ostryon and Carpinus with Ostrya. In the upper part of the valley, at the top of the slopes, there are rocky ramparts characterized by cliff vegetation that includes scientifically relevant plant species.
Habitats of community importance
Within this site, the following habitats of community importance are present:
Casmophitic vegetation on limestone cliffs
This habitat includes vertical walls covered by cliff vegetation. The vegetation of the vertical walls is a good example of pioneering communities destined to remain so for long periods of time: it’s no accident that paleoendemisms and tertiary relics have been preserved mainly in casmophitic vegetation.
Slope forests, scree slopes and Aceri-tilietum deep valleys
These forests are typical ravine and deep-valley environments with fresh debris at the basis of cliffs. They are characterized by the prevalence of noble hardwoods (maple, linden, elm, ash) with a floral bed similar to that of fresh beeches. In this site there are only fragments, which are sometimes difficult to map, but precisely because of this very important for biodiversity conservation, which is the main goal of the “Natura 2000” network. The Aceri-tilietum woods are pioneering azonal formations that may be preserved if orographic and topographic factors influence the microclimate and if the soil has no significant growth prospects. Indicator species are mountain maple (Acer pseudoplatanus), ash (Fraxinusexcelsior), European linden (Tilia platyphyllos) and mountain Elm (Ulmus glabra).