The Dolomites include remarkable natural phenomena and very distinctive landscapes which are of extraordinary aesthetic importance. Spectacular vertical formations, such as pinnacles and needles, contrasting horizontal surfaces, such as ledges and plateaus, rising above gentle foothills. Besides this, an astonishing color range. Imposing bare rock cliffs which are among the highest walls on Earth. Since ages the beauty of this mountains has been underlined by writings, paintings and photography. Their outstanding scenery is unique insomuch that it is actually called Dolomite Landscape.
From a scientific, geologic and geo-morphologic point of view, the Dolomites are of international significance. They illustrate a significant part of the Earth’s history: in fact, they provide a clear evidence of the type sections for the stratigraphy of the Permian and Triassic Periods. Moreover, they include several ancient fossilized atolls and they represent a distinctive variety of morphologic landforms related to erosion, glaciations and karst phenomena.
like all the other World Heritage properties, the Dolomites fully satisfy the global value of uniqueness and authenticity. The nine areas are essential for maintaining the beauty of the property as a whole and they offer detailed information about the earth science. They are all in good state of conservation and interrelated among each other thanks to a significant network of relationships. Moreover, a National Park, several Regional Parks, “Nature 2000” sites and a national monument help maintain this site’s individuality and integrity.
June 26, 2009 has surely been a significant day for the Dolomites, the mountain landscape and the environment itself. In fact, on that day in Seville (Spain) the 21 member states of the UNESCO Committee decided to inscribe nine areas of the Dolomites on the UNESCO World Heritage List, thanks to their outstanding beauty and their unique landscapes as well as to their incomparable geological and geo-morphological features.
The property nominated as a Heritage Site covers an area of approximately 142,000 hectares and a further buffer zone of 85,000 hectares for a total of 231,000 hectares, all contained within the provinces of Trento, Bolzano, Belluno, Pordenone and Udine. These are the zones belonging to the property: the system Pelmo and Croda da Lago which is placed in Veneto and stretches between the valleys Cadore, Val di Zoldo and Ampezzo; the Marmolada massif which includes the highest peak of the Dolomites (3,343 m) and the most notable glacier; the system Pale di San Martino , Pale di San Lucano and Dolomiti Bellunesi, falling mostly in Veneto but also in Trentino; the system Dolomiti Friulane and of Oltrepiave, representing the easternmost section of the site and contained within the boundaries of Pordenone, Udine and Belluno; the Dolomiti Settentrionali , placed between Alto Adige and Veneto and including the jagged Cadini, the pristine Dolomiti di Sesto, the majestic Dolomiti d’Ampezzo, and the lunar Dolomiti di Fanes, Sennes and Braies; the Puez Odle group, which has become a remarkable nature park and which mostly falls on the South Tyrolean territory; the system Sciliar-Catinaccio and Latemar , between Alto Adige and Trentino; the Dolomiti di Brenta, the westernmost region of the site which hosts the brown bear and falls in Trentino; and finally, the Bletterbach, a superb canyon, unique of its kind, situated in Alto Adige.
The UNESCO designation is a calling card for these mountains, an added value which helps to bring out the qualities of this area which are the hospitality, the cuisine and the tourist services. Certainly, this also demands a big effort in promoting and safeguarding the Dolomites as well as developing a sustainable tourism on its territory. In fact, the inscription on the World Heritage List means having an extraordinary universal value, being a reference point to preserve not only for the community but also for the whole humanity, a landmark to pass on for future generations to enjoy.