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13 May 2020

Larjëi, Longiarü’s larches

Drawing by the hand of Roswitha Asche.

People in Val Badia have used the larch forests for a variety of things over the centuries. Located near the viles (read more in one of our next diary entries), larch forests and their sparse coverage are to this very day unique in the Dolomites’ landscape. The European larch (Larix decidua) is a tree which adapted to areas with brief summers, cold winters, and low humidity. A sturdy tree, it resists to temperatures below 20° and sheds its needles in autumn – making it an ideal tree for the continental subalpine climate. Longiarü, a small rural village in the municipality of San Martino in Badia, boasts a larch forest which is a stellar example of its kind. In Ladin we call this a pasciantadù, ciantadù or trou: a forest used for collective grazing. Since time immemorial, grazing forests are those which offer a good protection from storms and snow. The Longiarü forest was already mentioned as far back as the 11th century! Its current shape shows us how mankind moulded it over time, proof the history of the inhabitants is interwoven with that of the forest. An unbreakable bond based on a deep balance we can still feel to this very day. All you have to do is look for these traces of the past and discover a world we simply cannot lose. We highly recommend you visit the larjëi in Longiarü.

P.s.: the Uniun Ladins Val Badia has published a beautiful book called ‘Larjëi, 1000 anni di gestione del larice nella valle di Longiarü, Alto Adige’ (a book about larches in South Tyrol, available in Ladin, Italian, and German) with beautiful drawings by the hand of Roswitha Asche.