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Habitat: General carachteristics

The Cansiglio Massif is made up of sedimentary rocks of marine origin and its shape and configuration stand as glorious symbols of the action of the karst phenomenon on the mountain chain itself. Its average height is 1,000 metres, though Mount Croseraz reaches 1,694 metres. The massif has in its central part a large basin in which there meet three minor depressions, i. e. Pian Cansiglio, Cornesega and Valmenera. Then dolines, swallow-holes and caves follow one another. In particular, one of the above-mentioned caves, so-called Bus della Genziana, was proclaimed a speleological natural Reserve. Occasionally, in the dolines there form water stagnations which use to be termed lame, but there are no rivers or lakes in this permeable karstic plateau.

The morphology of the Cansiglio Massif is to be considered as the starting-point of another peculiar phenomenon, i. e. the thermal inversion according to which the more we rise in altitude, the more temperature itself rises. This is the reason why in the large basin there are green pastures, whereas at a high altitude we find woods of conifers and broad-leaved trees. All local glades are characterised by this configuration. Woods are certainly the chief attraction of the tableland. The great forest is primarily made of pure beech trees, sometimes mixed with silver firs. Though less frequently, we meet spruces, larches and birches. Rhododendrons, bilberries, honeysuckles, mountain ashes and elders enrich the undergrowth. The vegetation which surrounds the lame of Cansiglio is peculiar as well: beside cotton grass and bog moss, there are swamp violets and the carnivorous round-leaved sundew. In the meadows you may also observe a wide variety of Alpine plants: gentians, soldanellas, primroses, harebells and edelweiss. Fine specimens of Alpine flora alternate with other species which are ranged among the rarest in Eastern Europe as, for instance, the Cardamine trefoil and the oriental Doronicum.

The fauna of Cansiglio is rich too. During the glacial periods it sought shelter in the Massif, which caused significant evolutionary processes of adaptation, especially as to the hypogeous fauna. As a consequence, the plateau is now inhabited by fourteen endemic species. Among local mammals the roe deer is the absolute protagonist, whereas there are very few specimens of deers. There are also foxes, polecats, stone martens, weasels, badgers, squirrels, dormouses and Alpine hares. What is more, there seems to be no doubt about the return of lynxes.

Yet, the most surprising animal of the Cansiglio wood is the capercaillie (the cock of the wood, represented in the logo of our site as well) which lives here together with other prairie grouses. In “the great wood” there build their nests such birds as black and green woodpeckers, dwarf owls and other birds of prey: dark kites, goshawks and eagle owls. As far as the local bird population is concerned, there are 150 species altogether.

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