Trails 2016

The second edition of the Trails was entirely dedicated to the celebration of the 150 years since the concept of ecology was first formulated by Ernst Haeckel (1866). Four Trails were organised and nine LTER-Italy sites were involved.

Three of the four trails had the same name “Terramare” (“Land-Sea”) to highlight their common objective to ideally and concretely connect the terrestrial environment with the marine one. These three Trails were traveled by foot, bike, or canoe and ended all together in the Venice Lagoon at the CNR Institute for Marine Science (ISMAR) with a final event open to the public. The fourth Trail, instead, took place on the Apennines and had a focus on the high-altitude biodiversity.

The Trail began on the 21st of June from the Gulf of Trieste and ended on the 28th of June in the Venice Lagoon. It was held mostly inside the LTER macro-site “Alto Adriatico” connecting two LTER-Italy sites: Golfo di Trieste and Laguna di Venezia. The Trail crossed marine habitats, terrestrial ones, and lagoons and had a low ecological impact since it was traveled swimming, by canoe, or by bike.

The Trail aimed to raise awareness among the participants on the biodiversity and complexity of marine, terrestrial, and transitional ecosystems. Several activities were organised to engage citizens and local public administrations to highlight the importance of long-term ecological research to evaluate the state of the ecosystems, and to sensitize people on the difficulties of managing these ecosystems.

During the first leg of the Trail, the participants swam from the Miramare Marine Park to the OGS headquarters in Santa Croce. This event took place in conjunction with “Ocean Sampling Day”, a global event of marine and ocean water sampling. The final leg of this Trail ended at the headquarters of CNR ISMAR in the Old Arsenal in Venice. An open event was organised to talk about ecology and marine biodiversity through the participated storytelling of the Trail and the LTER research activities.

The six legs of this Trail were traveled mostly by bike. The route crossed three regions in the North of Italy (Lombardia, Trentino-Alto Adige e Veneto) among rivers, lakes, forests, grasslands, hills, and wetlands to the Venice Lagoon, where sea and land are constantly seeking balance.
The Trail started from the LTER site “Bosco Fontana” on the 1st of July and ended on the 6th of July 2016, going all the way through the lake ecosystems of the North of Italy (Garda and Tovel lakes), crossing the Valsugana Valley and ending in the Venice Lagoon, at the headquarters of CNR ISMAR, with a final open event together with the third Terramare Trail “the tales of the wood journey from the forests”.

The Trail aimed to raise awareness among the participants on the biodiversity and the fragility of the ecosystems encountered along the route. Even though these ecosystems were quite different from each other from a naturalistic point of view, they are all vulnerable to climate change and anthropic pressures. Following the courses of the rivers Mincio and Adige, the bike relay went through a relic forest habitat that was typical of the western Europe temperate zones (Bosco Fontana), two river parks (Mincio and Sarca), two lake ecosystems (Garda and Tovel), one high-altitude habitat (Adamello Brenta Natural Park) and one lagoon (Laguna di Venezia).

Thanks to the collaboration of several experts from different fields (biologists, ornithologists, and geologists), the participants had the chance to know better the animals and the plants typical of each environment and to learn the protocols of long-term ecological research implemented by the LTER site referents.
The experience of this Trail and the “Antropica” Trail from 2017 can be found in the book “ANTHROPICA. VIAGGIO NELL’ITALIA DEL CAMBIAMENTO AMBIENTALE” (Anthropica. Travel across Italy during the environmental change) edited by Hoepli in 2023 and written by Domenico D’Alelio and Emanuela Dattolo.

This Trail started in the renowned spruce forests in the Paeveggio Pale di San Martino (Trento) Natural Park, where the Valbona LTER site is located, and ended after six days in the LTER site “Laguna di Venezia” at the headquarters of CNR ISMAR, in conjunction with the other Trail “Terramare- the tale of changes among forests, lakes and the sea” that started in the LTER site of Bosco Fontana.

The Trail was designed following the most important stages of wood crafting and transportation used through centuries, for example, to build ships, to trade across the Mediterranean Sea, or to build Stradivari violins. The main objective of the Trail was to raise awareness among the citizens, the local administrations, the mountain lovers, and the agro-forestry sector on the complexity of the forest ecosystem, its ecosystem services, and the role of research in these fields.
During the Trail, there was time to discuss different strategies that researchers can use to communicate the importance of studying forests’ natural dynamics, the impact of human activities, climate change, and the other threats to biodiversity conservation.

The Trails participants met local communities living in the mountains, listening to those who daily live in these endangered environments and must deal with the changes currently happening. They have to fight to survive in the global market and economy.
The main topic of the Trail was the path that the wood made from Paneveggio to Venice (the wood fluitation) hosting an exhibition called “A river of wood” in the Old Arsenal in Venice.

The Trail took place on the Abruzzo mountains, inside the LTER macro-site “Appennini: ecosistemi d’alta quota” which includes the research sites Velino, Gran Sasso d’Italia, and Majella. The path crossed the characteristic landscape of the inland mountain of the Central Apennines, in the territory of L’Aquila and Pescara.
The Trail was traveled mostly by foot, walking along mixed forests, beech, high-altitude grasslands, and alpine tundra. All of these are environments with a high biodiversity value. The Trail passed inside a few areas with high environmental and touristic value, such as three Natural Parks: one Regional (Sirente- Velino) and two National (Gran Sasso and Majella).

The Trail started on the 20th of July 2016, with an opening event at the foot of Mount Velino and it continued to the Majella, where it ended on the 24th of July.
The Trail was characterized by a series of plant, micro-climate, geological, and wildlife observations. The participants were supported by the presence of botanists, ornithologists, and geologists.

Some special moments saw researchers united with amateur naturalists, and volunteers on the Gran Sasso and Majella to carry out intensive field studies (BioBlitz) and do some botanical treasure hunting to determine the main animal and plant species of the area.

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