The Park

of Sacred


Established in 1993, on the site of the Crinale Romagnolo Regional Park, the Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona and Campigna National Park is only the most recent milestone in the long, even ancient history of the relationship between mankind and the forest.

Indeed, it was in around 1012 that San Romualdo founded the Camaldoli Hermitage in the heart of the forest. Over time, the lifestyle of the monks led to the creation of the famous Camaldolese Forest Code, a complex series of regulations and instructions for the care and management of the woods.

Then, it was 1224 when Saint Francis received the stigmata at La Verna, where the year before, the first Franciscan settlement had already sprung up on the cliff of Monte Penna.

Moving to the opposite geographic extreme of the park, we find San Benedetto in Alpe, an important abbey, founded around the first half of the 11th century AD. The abbey also saw the visit of San Romualdo, and later, even more famously, Dante, during his exile between 1302 and 1303.

Therefore, it has always taken a spiritual approach, first and foremost, to trace the steps of this long history of use, respect, protection and management of the forest in this area straddling Romagna and Tuscany.

After a brief period in which it was private, the forest was purchased in 1914, in several stages, by the Italian State, and the Nature Reserve of Sasso Fratino was established in 1959 thanks to Fabio Clauser, the administrator of the Casentinesi Forests at the time.
It is thanks to Clauser's vision that for the first time, mankind decided to take a step back, faced with a unique environment: an old-growth forest that would become the first Full Nature Reserve established in Italy, receive the European Diploma for Protected Areas in 1985, and join the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2017, along with other old-growth European beech forests, as part of the Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and other Regions of Europe
In all this, the Park is therefore only the final piece of a long journey.

Today, its boundaries enclose an area of around 36,000 hectares, equally divided between Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany, including the territories of the provinces of Forlì-Cesena, Arezzo and Florence along the Tuscan-Romagnolo Apennines, which descend steeply along the parallel valleys of the Romagna side, and more gradually on the Tuscan side - which has gentler slopes, leading down to the broad valley formed by the Arno.

In periods of climate change and global warming, the Protected Area is an enormous green lung that freely offers invaluable ecosystem services, or in other words, the benefits provided to mankind by natural systems.
As well as absorbing CO2, which takes place at an even higher rate in mature forests, these areas also contribute to our wellbeing by providing drinking water and regulating the climate and hydrological regimes.

The Casentinesi Forests are also important for the protection of many species of pollinators, as well as significant, rich biodiversity. Finally, they offer psychological and physical benefits to visitors, as well as providing a training ground for educational activities on the environment, and a potential source of work for guides, tourist operators, researchers and experts in protected areas.

Indeed, unlike other areas, the Park's purposes include not only protection (which is the top priority), but also the encouragement of studies and scientific research, the promotion of sustainable economic activities, cultural and educational activities and enjoyment of the environment. These aspects have been tackled positively since the park's creation, and have recently led to its inclusion on the Green List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a certification of excellence for protected areas.

Today, around 600km of paths are maintained, forming a network that allows people to discover the territory on foot or by bike, with the help of publications created by the Organisation, such as the hiking map, guides and publications, the mapping app and useful options such as "From Refuge to Refuge".
The Park has now offered comprehensive schools in the surrounding municipalities structured environmental education projects for decades, and encourages the development of cooperatives and companies to provide tourist services.
But above all, it focuses on monitoring and research, starting with the iconic species of the protected area, such as the golden eagle and the wolf, right up to smaller and only seemingly less important species such as the Apennine yellow-bellied toad, the northern spectacled salamander, the Alpine longhorn beetle, and hundreds of other species of insects connected to old-growth forests. The Park is also a partner of European projects for the active conservation of species and habitats of European interest (the well-known LIFE projects), which provide work and a broad scope for a strategically important sector.

Finally, as another of its purposes, the National Park aims to save and treasure the memory of mountain populations and the Apennine civilisation of which all that remains is often just ruins scattered across the area, supporting the people who still live and work here: agritourism workers and farmers, refuge owners, environmental hiking guides, educators, naturalists and foresters - in other words, the protagonists of the territory of the Sacred Forests, and players, along with the Park Organisation, in the destiny of these wonderful forests.
The Casentinesi Forest National Park offers a rich itinerary that needs to be explored many times in order to fully appreciate its thousands of historical, environmental and social aspects. A virtuous microcosm where traditions and new ecosystems coexist, providing a foundation for culture and experimental projects. A bridge between yesterday and tomorrow, at the centre of the relationship between mankind and the forest.


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N° 9


Where there is a journey, there is always a change.
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