"In Calabria, the marked orographic and pedoclimatic variability has determined in the forestry systems, a high diversity not only biological, but also historical and cultural, giving rise to what is called a" forest archipelago ".
The Sila National Park includes a rich and varied forestry heritage that is what remains today of the so-called "Gran Bosco d'Italia".
A fundamental aspect for the explaination of forestry biodiversity conservation policies concerns the management of classified forestry areas such as old growth forests or ancient woods.
The forestry areas left to free evolution are to be considered also hot spot for the conservation of biodiversity and for the study of the natural dynamic of forestry systems. For this reason the scientific world recognizes the great importance of all those strips of forest that for various reasons have characteristics of high naturalness and antiquity.
The term ancient forest doesn't have a univocal definition but all the authors agree that the ancient forests are characterized by trees of high age and/or majestic dimensions, by complex structural articulation, by significant amounts of dead biomass standing or landed, from an overall level of very high biodiversity.
The definition of ancient forest that is given in the project "Foreste Vetuste in Italia" (Blasi et al., 2010) is the following: "Forests in which the anthropic disturbance is absent or negligible, characterized by: a natural dynamic that determines the presence , within them, of all the phases of regeneration, including the aging one. This phase is characterized by individuals of considerable size and age; presence of dead wood (dead trees standing, branches and trees fallen to the ground); a coherent flora with the biogeographical context characterized by the presence of highly specialized species that benefit from the low degree of disturbance and species related to microhabitats determined by structural heterogeneity ".
The identification, the localization and the specific conservation of ancient woods provides valuable informations about the dynamic of forestry ecosystems that have developed following the factors and natural gradients. The studies of ancient woods (or with ancient elements) allow to verify and integrate disciplinary responsibilities of forestry service, botanists and zoologists for the structural and functional research of biological systems on the one hand and the qualitative and quantitative evaluation of ecosystem services on the other.
The Sila National Park is an extremely significant place for the ancient woods because it is famous for its extensive and wild forests. The Sila hosts the most important for extension and structural features woods of the Calabrian pine , and the conservation of the pinewoods has considerable importance both from an environmental and socio-economic, both historical and cultural point of view. The same thought deserve the broad-leaved forests, in particular beech-woods, often mixed with white fir, which together with the pinewoods characterize the mountain belt.
Another type of particular conservation interest are the alnets that are among the richest species forestry formations.
The Fallistro's Wood falls within the territory of the Municipality of Spezzano della Sila (Cosenza), in Sila Grande in the basin of the River Neto. It is located immediately to south/west of Croce di Magara, not far from the Fontana del Signore. From the altitude point of view the area develops between 1398 m s.l.m. in the eastern sector, near some buildings used as dwellings in the past, and 1448 m in correspondence of some flat areas in the north west area, with a difference in height of 50 m. The average share is 1420 m.
The antient pinewood consists of a nucleus of 35 plants of calabrian pine (Pinus nigra ssp. calabrica) , with age between 350 and 400 years, with diameters up to 190 cm and heights of over 43 m. Beyond the size of the plants, this site assumes great importance because on a limited surface there is a large number of plants of exceptional dimensions. All the subjects present characteristics of accentuated antiquity and some plants show signs of evident decadence. Therefore it is to be expected that in the future some of these trees may collapse under the action of atmospheric agents, as happened in the recent past.
The area falls in the northern sector of Sila Grande, in the locality of Fossiata, in the Municipality of Longobucco. It includes the part of wood that extends around the structure of an old forest nursery, currently in disuse. The whole area, which develops at altitudes between 1300 and 1500 m s.l.m., is affected by the presence of ancient plants and well-structured and well-preserved portions of the forest.
You can distinguish different types of forest: the open pinewood with plants that are over 100 years old, beech forest mixed with fir and pine, and a large alder forest with Alnus glutinosa. The latter is particularly significant both by extension and by the presence of ancient plants. The riparian alder forests of Sila generally have very limited extension and are often reduced to rows. In this case, however, the low slope of the water course has caused the swamp and the development of a large hygrophilous wood, and the absence of disturbance has favored its natural evolution.
Gallopane's forest - Cava dell'Orso
The Gallopane's Forest - Cava dell'Orso is part of one of the largest forestry complexes of Sila Grande, the Sila Grande State Forest - Administrative District of Cava Melis.
This portion of the wood, which extends to an average altitude of 1450 m s.l.m., consists mainly of Calabrian pine which is present with many ancient specimens. The beech has smaller dimensions; only in correspondence of small watershed, in good/discrete vegetative conditions large specimens are observed , with the foliage very wide and inserted at the bottom, typical of plants grown in conditions of low density. On the northern side there are a lot of centuries-old specimens of white fir.
Altogether in this area there are about 150 plants of pine laricio with characteristics of antiquity, distributed in a rather irregular way over the entire surface. Many have large dimensions, have diameters over 100 cm and heights between 30 and 40 m. On a sample of 38 plants measured, almost 50% exceeds one meter in diameter at a man's chest.
The vegetation of the northern slope is characterized by the beech forest that forms a dense arboreal layer from which ancient specimens of white fir and calabrian pine stand out. The constant presence of the white fir allows to refer the beech forest to the habitat of community interest 9220 * Beech Woods of Apennines with Abies alba Miller and beech woods with Abies nebrodensis . In other parts of the forest the pine tends to become dominant, with an open structure, and richer undergrowth with species typical of the pinewood. These aspects are to be attributed to the Hypochoerido-Pinetum calabricae and to the habitat 9530 * Pinewood(sub-)mediterrean endemic black pines.
The Vallone Cecita's Pinewood
The wood is located in the big valley of the Cecita Torrent, on the hydrographic right of the waterway, and it extends beetween the torrent and the state road n. 282 in direction of Bocchigliero. The area belongs to the big Demanial Forest of Fossiata, in the northern sector of the Sila Grande.
The vegetation that characterizes the slope is mainly composed of Calabrian pine, almost exclusively of natural origin, except for some small areas near the main road with an almost flat morphology where, in the second half of the last century, sowings were done.
The characteristics of antiquity of this population are due to the presence of large plants of advanced age, distributed in a decidedly irregular way throughout all the area, to the absence of the use interventions starting from the first half of the last century and the presence of evolutionary dynamics not influenced by anthropic activity.
The Gariglione's Mount is the highest peak of Sila Piccola, reaching 1764 m s.l.m.
The Gariglione's forest currently has an area of 1766 hectares and mainly concerns the slopes on the hydrographic right with north exposure of the basin of the river Tacina and, to a lesser extent, those on the hydrographic left of the Rio Galina’s basin, a tributary of the Soleo river.
The portion of ancient wood is adjacent to the Gariglione’s forestry Barracks and affects the southern slopes of the homonymous peak.
The ancient forest that him covered it was one of the last to be exploited for the production of the wood and still in the early '900 appeared to the visitor as a primeval forest. In the first decades of the twentieth century it suffered a drastic deforestation by So.Fo.Me. (Società Forestale Meridionale). Despite this, it remains today one of the best preserved forests of the Sila plateau.
The area is characterized by a mixed beech wood and fir forest that can be seen in the Ranunculo-Fagetum, and is rich in habitats that lives in brooks rich of complex of plants framed in the classes Galio-Urticetea and Montio-Cardaminetea,in particular the communities characterized by the presence of Lereschia thomasii and Soldanella calabrella,the first one referable to the association Chrysosplenio-Lereschietum thomasii of the Galio-Urticetea, the second to the Adenostylo-Soldanelletum calabrellae of the Montio-Cardaminetea. In the marsh areas, there are communities characterized by Caltha palustrisand Chaerophyllum calabrum, referable to Calthion. Often the beech is associated with the white fir (Abies alba)and Lobelius’s maple (Acercappadocicum ssp. lobelii).
Monte Spinalba’s beech forest
Mount Spinalba (about 1700 m s.l.m.) is located in the Sila Piccola of Catanzaro, rises south of Mount Gariglione, and represents the eastern offshoot of Mount Femminamorta. The highest part (at 1700 m of altitude) has a relatively flat structure, and is characterized by a beech forest mixed to white fir, well structured and diversified.
The undergrowth is relatively rich in species, compared to other beech woods of Sila located at the same altitude, probably thanks to the poor slope, which favors the evolution of deep and organic soil, but also thanks to the scarce use. Abundant is the presence of white fir, with ancient specimens of at least 200 years old. In the undergrowth there is an abundance of Galium odoratum, Lamiumflexuosum, Calamintha grandiflora and Ranunculus brutius,more sporadic is the presence of Campanula trichocalycina,whose presence, makes this forest type refer to the Ranunculo-Fagetum (= Campanulo-Fagetum).
The constant presence of the white fir allows to refer the whole area to the habitat 9220 *Beech forests of Appenines with Abies alba Miller and beech woods with Abies nebrodensis.
Manca of Cervo’s beech-wood
The area extends on the northern slope of Mount Gariglione’s complex, including beetween the ditch of the same name and that of Buonanotte, approx. 1500 m of altitude. The general slopes of the area are not particularly high even if they increase significantly, approaching the two ditches.
The wood consists of a beech forest of 50-70 years old, in good vegetative conditions, with a not particularly dense but very uniform covering, able to prevent the presence of widespread herbaceous and shrubby vegetation inside the wood. The diameters of the plants are not particularly high, but the stems are rather straight, the foliage is contained and collected at the top. The undergrowth is very poor, as is the accumulation of litter on the ground.
There are dry standing plants, generally small; slightly more abundant are dry irises on the ground of small dimensions.
The undergrowth, scarce and concentrated in the areas where the covering thin out, is made up of some typical species of beech forests, among which the hairy rennet (Galium rotundifolium ssp. hirsutum)and the geranium of San Roberto (Geranium robertianum L.).
Particularly significant is the presence of Neapolitan alder (Alnus cordata), also with remarkable specimens, which is associated with the beech and gives rise to a particular aspect of the Galio hirsuti-Fagetum. Along and lines of torrent the Neapolitan alder becomes dominant and appears also Alnus glutinosa.
The Macchia dell’Orso forest is part of the wider forest system of Mount Gariglione and extends immediately south of the Gariglione’s Forest Barracks.
Particularly interesting in this area is the outcrop of metamorphosed crystalline limestone bands, often with garnet visible to the naked eye in association with rocks granite, respect to the dominant substratum consisting of an igneo-metamorphic complex of paragneiss and scisti biotici with rought and fine grained.
Also in this case it is a beechwood mixed with white fir, with the presence of ancient specimens of beech and fir, framable in the Ranunculo brutii - Fagetum Bonin 1967 (= Campanulo-Fagetum ), characterized by the presence in the undergrowth of Galium odoratum , Calamintha grandiflora, Campanula trichocalycina .
Locally the white fir becomes dominant giving rise to an almost pure fir forest with very poor under forest, in which species with a more markedly of bush character such as Oxalis acetosella , Galium odoratum , Lamium flexuosum and Neottia nidus-avis . These aspects can be referred to the association Monotropo-Abietetum apenninae Brullo , Scelsi & Spampinato 2001 typical of very steep slopes exposed mainly to the north, with a floristic groupe rich in species that live in the wood and framed in the Geranio versicoloris-Fagion sylvaticae - Gentile 1970.
It is worth mentioning the presence of Blechnum spicant, a circumboreale fern , linked to the damp environments in the area and included in the regional red list. The forest types of the area can to be refered to the habitat of community interest 9220 * Apennines beech forests with Abies alba Mille r and beech woods with Abies nebrodensis, and, limited to the dominant aspects of white fir, to habitat 9510 *: Southern Forests -Apennines’s of Abies alba.
Tirivolo’s Fir Wood
Tho fir wood is located in loc. Capitano, immediately south of the village of Tirivolo, in the municipality of Zagarise (CZ), at an altitude of approx. 1550-1600 m.
In this area the beech has lower coverage values than the fir, but remains always present. We note the presence of Blechnum spicant and Pyrola minor, circumboreali species , both included in the regional red list.
The forest types of the area can refer to the habitat of community interest9220 * Apennines beech forests with Abies alba Miller and beech forests with Abies nebrodensis, and, limited to the dominant aspects of white fir, to habitat 9510 *: Southern Forests -Apennines’s of Abies alba.
Vallone Viperaro's forest of canyon
It is a forest of canyon mainly with opal maple ( Acer opalus MILL.) located in the locality Caritello-Viperaro , in the municipality of Magisano (Catanzaro) and is part of the property of the Calabria Region. The altitude is between 1150 and 1250 m , the exposure is mainly south / east, the slopes and accidents are decidedly marked. The substrate is particularly rich in medium-large, unfixed pebbles, which cover the slope surface making it very similar to an alcumulation of alpine ruins.
The less affluent bordering areas were subject to reforestation with larch pine, while the area in question, probably due to the high acclivity, was subject to a lower impact and at present it looks like a forest full of ancient specimens of Quercus petraea , Fagus sylvatica and Acer opalus ssp. obtusatum.
The population is mainly characterized by large opal maple, especially regarding the diameter. The stems are often hollow, not particularly tall and the branching starts at 2-3 m above the ground. Frequently they have a candlestick shape and have a broad, branched crown. The age of these plants, deduced from the number of rings contained in little carrots taken at 1.30 m from the ground, is generally more than 100 years. "
* The text is taken from the Report I Phase of the study "Characterization and Conservation of Sila Ancient Forests" System Action: "Establishment of the network of ancient forests of the PN of the Southern Apennines" - I phase - March2014. Scientific managers - Prof. Pietro Brandmayr and Prof. Giuliano Menguzzato