Two excursions will take place during the conference: a mid-conference excursion and an optional post-conference excursion. Both will be around the Majella National Park. It is one of the three national parks in the Abruzzi region, Central Apennines. Its flora is very rich, counting over 2150 species and subspecies of vascular plants. The Park has a high relevance for plant sciences and biogeography: over 50 entities of vascular plants have their locus classicus there; 174 taxa are Italian endemic and five of them are exclusively found within the area of the National Park.

Please visit OpenStreetMap website to zoom around the map of the national park.

The territory is mainly mountainous, and, similarly to other mountain areas in Central Italy, it was exploited in the past, both for timber production and for agriculture. Nowadays, the population living in the mountain is less numerous, and consequently, the landscape is changing. For example, in the sites of the excursion we will be able to see secondary pastures spread on ancient crops, witnesses of which are represented by stone heaps derived by clearance operations, dry stone walls, stone huts and some plant species typical of abandoned fields. These secondary pastures are subjected today to secondary succession, being invaded by herb and shrub species that indicate this ongoing process. Luckily, in the Majella National Park, differently from other areas, alien species do not play an important role in this process.

The grazing itself is changed: once almost exclusively made by sheep and goats, today the great majority of grazing animals are cattle and horses. The structure and the composition of the pasture are involved with deterioration evidences in the sites where the animals stay for a long time.  Surveying the pastures, it is possible to observe different ancient and actual processes whose government is the current challenge to maintain high levels of biodiversity.

Many historic evidences of human presence occur within this mountainous area, the more evocative being the plenty of hermitages within the Park. We will visit one of the more suggestive of them in the mid-conference excursion: the S. Bartolomeo hermitage.

Mid-conference excursion – 6th June

The excursion will take place from S. Bartolomeo Hermitage to Rifugio Pomilio. Please click to see detailed map. It will be divided in three steps:

  1. S. Bartolomeo Hermitage (at 610 m a.s.l.), embedded in the rock in a context of dry grasslands (Bromopsis erecta, Brachypodium rupestre, Trachynia distachya), cultivated and uncultivated fields, thermophilous deciduous shrubs;
  2. From Stazzo di Roccamorice to La Maielletta (1450-1670 m a.s.l.), through Bromopsis erecta, Festuca circummediterranea and Brachypodium genuense grasslands;
  3. Rifugio Pomilio (2000 m a.s.l.), among the shrubs of Pinus mugo, at the southern limit of its distribution area, and with a wonderful view on the Murelle glacial amphitheater.

Mountain shoes and clothes, hat and sunscreen will be necessary.

Annelo tholos
Annello tholos 2

Views from the mid-conference excursion sites

Murelle Mt
chamois in the park

Anfiteatro delle Murelle (one of the mid-stops of the Mid-conference excursion) and a Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) frequenting the site. Photo: A. Guerri.

Post-conference excursion – 8th June

(optional - maximum number of participants: 90)

The excursion will take place from Sant’Antonio (Palena) towards Tavola Rotonda. Please click to see detailed map. It will cover a great altitudinal range from about 1000 m a.s.l. to about 2000 m a.s.l.. Along the footpath it will be possible to see the secondary grasslands of the montane belt (dominated by Bromopsis erecta and Sesleria juncifolia), and the subalpine dwarf shrublands dominated by Arctostaphylos uva-ursi and Juniperus communis var. saxatilis. Finally, we will reach the alpine belt, with primary grasslands dominated by Festuca violacea subsp. italica, and scattered examples of alpine vegetation.

During this excursion, EDGG Co-chair Jürgen Dengler, will demonstrate to interested participants how to collect the standardised multi-scale and multi-taxon EDGG Biodiversity Plots (see Dengler et al. 2016, Bull. Eurasian Dry Grassl. Group 32: 13–30). This can be interesting both for potential future hosts and participants of the annual EDGG Field Workshops and for colleagues who want to learn this method for their own research. Depending on the number of interested colleagues, we will sample one or several complete EDGG Biodiversity Plots from high-elevation grasslands, which will be fed into the EDGG database “GrassPlot” (http://bit.ly/2HvVkgu). If interested, please contact J. Dengler in advance (juergen.dengler@uni-bayreuth.de).

Mountain boots and clothes, hat and sunscreen will be necessary.

A view from the slope towards Tavola Rotonda. Photo: G. Ciaschetti.

Practical advices for the participants about the excursions

For both the excursions, the participants are recommended to wear different layers of clothes because the temperature could be very variable. A waterproof cover and comfortable shoes are strongly recommended. The participants are invited not to collect plants, animals or stones, because it is not allowed. If someone wants to do it for scientific purpose, a specific request must be submitted to the Majella National Park administration.

In the areas corresponding to the “A zone” of the Park (strict reserve), the participants are invited to walk only in the indicated paths or in those that will be indicated by the guides during the excursions.