Dolomites – Unesco Heritage

To the west there’s the Brenta Group, to the east the Latemar, the Rosengarten group, the Pale di San Martino and the Marmolada massif that, with its 3,342 metres, is the Queen of the “Pale Mountains”.
The essence of the Dolomites can be found in the rock itself: it’s what gives them their slender forms (Le Corbusier once described them as “the most beautiful pieces of architecture in the world”) and take on different tones of colour as the day goes on, until dusk and the magical “enrosadira” where the mountains take on a rosy hue. The current aspect of these “Pale Mountains” is mainly the result of a long and fascinating geological history going back 280 million years. Back then, what would later become the Dolomites, was a floodplain draining into a gulf of the tropical Tethys Ocean that reached up between Europe and Africa which were otherwise joined together in the Pangea landmass. Over time, as the sea floor yielded, the Tethys ocean invaded the area currently home to the Dolomites. This sea was shallow and warm and similar to certain tropical coastal areas today. From the Triassic onwards, this sea changed depth many times. Every time the ocean floor yielded, a vast number of microorganisms went to work building up reefs apparently in an attempt to maintain a constant depth.
And then something new happened: about 65 million years ago, towards the end of the Cretaceous, the Dolomites started to rise out of the sea as a consequence of the rising pressure between the European and African continental plates. The successive ice ages of the Quaternary Period covered these mountains in glaciers for over two million years and finally when the ice retreated they finally prepared to welcome the first human settlements.
The geological history of the Dolomites has made them a global reference for the Earth Sciences especially due to the ease with which it’s possible to read in the rock itself the evolution of our planet, something akin to flicking through a giant stone book.
Since 2009 the Dolomites have been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Today, just like in the past, the Dolomites manage to capture the imagination with their spectacular vertical conformations, their giant rock faces which can rise for over 1,600 metres above the soft undulating line of forests and mountain meadows and the countless tones of colour this rock assumes throughout the day.
It’s not just the undeniable natural and environmental virtues that make Trentino “universal”: according to UNESCO, what has really rewarded this land is the ancient yet solid relationship that man has established with nature. A remote bond, preserved and evolved over time across these mountains which today promotes a sustainable approach to the use of resources and an integration of man and nature which starts from the land itself and its communities before arriving at the central administration.
It's not just about the Dolomites. In June 2008 the Adamello Brenta Natural Park was officially designated a Geopark and is now part of the European and Global Network of UNESCO Geoparks which counts a total of 127 geoparks across 35 countries. This prestigious recognition testifies to the rich and extraordinary geological heritage of the Adamello Group and the Brenta Dolomites and also to the effectiveness of the Park’s management of protection, education and sustainable development.

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