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Between rocks and woods

Pastures and meadows

Summer: a high meadow in flower (F. Tomasinelli)

About 17% of the Park is covered in grassland.
The best grassland in terms of fodder are the so called pasture fields or meadows, found from 800 metres up: in the past they were grazed directly or mown, which encouraged the better forage species. Turf like this is usually found lower in the valleys and at the entrance to the main valleys: the best is found in Val Grande around Palanfré and around Esterate, near Entracque, here however rural depopulation and the abandon of traditional work in the fields has led to encroachment by woodland. In these fields, created in the past by clearing woodland and no longer cultivated in such a way as to conserve its fertility and the richness of fodder crops, apart from a thinning of the turf we also see gradually appearing more frugal species better suited to arid land. This process forms so called poor pasture.

Another example of degraded pasture is where we see a predominance of Nardus in this case caused by overgrazing. It develops in the cool, fertile pastures where, because of intense trampling by livestock, the more delicate species progressively disappear, making room for Nardus stricta. This grass is well suited to compact poorly aerated soil; with repeated trampling it produces thick clumps which in extreme cases form a dense mat.
The harsh, rocky morphology with snowfields and scree, which is typical of the Alpine environment in the Maritime Alps does not favour the presence of open meadows at high altitude, which are reduced to small pockets or broken grassland or grassy ledges.


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