The Nature 2000 network in the Aosta Valley region
A European network to protect biodiversity and habitats at risk
Natura 2000 is an ecological network instituted by the CEE directive called “Habitat” to safeguard biodiversity in Europe. It is made up of areas of extremely rich naturalistic importance, called SCI (Sites of Community Importance) and SPZ (Special Protection Zones) suitable for the conservation of wild and migratory birds. These sites are home to species and habitats that are threatened with extinction and are characteristic of the Community territory.
In the Aosta Valley the network already includes 30 sites, stretching over 30% of the regional territory. In addition to the National Park of Gran Paradiso, the Parc of Mont Avic and the regional Nature Reserves, there are also some extremely interesting biotopes such as the valleys of Urtier and Grauson in the Val di Cogne, the wetlands in the Val Ferret, the high-altitude limestone landscapes at the top of Rhêmes Valley and also the high-altitude glacial landscapes on Great-Saint-Bernard, Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa areas.
Some of the most interesting habitats in the SCI and SPZ include the rocky habitats, due to their surface area, which consist of rock faces, screes and glaciers; after these you find grasslands, shrubland and forests.
There are numerous priority habitats which risk disappearing from the territory of the Union: the largest area is the Limestone Pavements, then there are certain typical wetland habitats, peat bogs or other types of forest landscapes.
As regards wildlife, there are a significant number of protected species such as: the Golden Eagle, Eurasian Pygmy-owl, Lammergeyer, the Eurasian Eagle Owl, the Rock Partridge, the Rock Ptarmigan, the Chough, the Black Grouse, the Great Crested Newt, certain species of bats and, more recently, the Lynx and the Wolf. Plantlife includes the Trifolium saxatile, Our Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium calceolus) and the Astragalus alopecurus Pallas.