Room 8

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The Regional

Forest of

Western Garda

During the exhibition itinerary, you will discover many other interesting facts about the natural features of the area of the Park and the Regional Forest of Western Garda: the focus is on the forest, both as an ecosystem and as a natural resource. After an explanation of the problems afflicting the forest, some natural history collections and the root system of a tree suspended from the ceiling, you will reach the last room of the museum. Its purpose is to communicate in a symbolic and simple way the aesthetic and almost sacred value of the forest and the landscapes and natural environment in general of the Brescian Upper Garda Park.

Following the transfer of responsibility for forestry matters from the State to the Regions, in 1980 the Lombardy Region established the Regional Forestry Company (now merged with ERSAF) with the task of managing and safeguarding Lombardy’s forestry heritage: 23 thousand hectares of mountain territory, mostly covered by woods. The Regional Forest of Western Garda covers more than 11,000 hectares, it is the largest in Lombardy and is located entirely at above 600 metres above sea level in the hinterland of the Brescian Upper Garda Park.

Close to the lake, the forest landscape is especially populated by the holm oak, a type of evergreen oak which is not found in the inner parts of the Regional Forest. The European hop-hornbeam is often found with the manna ash tree or the downy oak and it is dominant in the forest formations spread at lower altitudes. Occasionally, there are some small chestnut woods, although the limestone soil of the Park is not good for this species. At higher altitudes, where water is more available, the most common trees are the beech, the sycamore and the European ash trees, but also the whitebeam, the lime tree and the Scots elm. A forest of Scots pines appears like a forest formed by a myriad of reddish columns, quite bright. The European spruce is widespread in the hinterland of Garda. The larch grows spontaneously only in few areas of Upper Garda while in many other parts of the region it was planted by man. Autumn in Garda is already colourful but it becomes even more charming with the vibrant yellow-gold colour of the deciduous larch and the contrast created by the rusty beech and the dark fir.

 

The forest is like an artefact created through human intervention and not the “natural” product of unspoilt nature. However, new sylviculture methods are being implemented with the aim of restoring the natural balance of the forest, slowly removing artificial forests, that created by planting, and promoting a model of ecologically stable forest. Spontaneous combustion fires never occur in Upper Garda and even natural causes such as lightning are extremely rare. In the majority of the cases, fires are started by arsonists. Several fire teams composed of volunteers are active in the hinterland and contribute effectively to the protection of the forest.

 

The Golden Eagle can be often seen hovering on Mount Tombea and Mount Caplone looking for preys such as the marmots that live in the slopes of the mountains. The rocks on the southern slope of the Tombea are inhabited by a colony of Alpine ibexes and numerous Alpine chamois. The roe deer is quite common in the area of the Park: an adult deer normally occupies an area from 6 to 10 hectares, keeping away the young of its species; this behaviour helps the colonisation of new areas. The bellow of the deer can be often heard in autumn in Val de L’Era, north of the Valley of Droanello in Valvestino, especially during the last hours of the day until the middle of the night.

 

Thanks to its proximity to the Lake, the Garda forest has a very favourable climate for birds during the colder months. This characteristic attracts to the area of Garda a mix of North African and Northern European migratory species which come here either to nest or to survive the winter. The woods in the mountains of the hinterland, at 1,400 to 1,700 metres of altitude, are inhabited by the black grouse which in this environment can find the buds and wild berries that form an essential part of its nutrition. The wood grouse, instead, is rarely seen. It’s been found in Valvestino but it’s particularly disturbed by human presence in the woods.

 

Preserving the environmental diversity of the area through good forestry techniques and silvicultural treatments is an essential prerequisite to the correct management of forest habitats. For a long time wildlife was only regarded for its hunting purposes in our country but now the park’s philosophy is to treat wildlife as a resource in which it’s necessary to invest for biodiversity conservation.
There are many ancient roads in the area of the Garda Forest and the Park. They are testimony to the history of the area as a borderland and today are used as hiking trails to enjoy the Park immersed in an incredibly beautiful natural environment.