On 1 January 2003, the SEL designated the Sesvenna Group, located in the north-west of South Tyrol, as the first Study Area. The territory that belongs to the Sesvenna Group lies on the orographical right-hand side of the Etsch valley, between the villages of Reschen and Mals, and is limited in the south by the Münster/Müstair valley. In the west, the boundary of the Study Area runs along the Swiss border.
The spacious arrangement and favourable sunny location of the Sesvenna Alps in an inner alpine area, between the dry Vinschgau/Val Venosta with its biological diversity, the Unterengadin (Switzerland) and the upper Inn valley of Tyrol (Austria), comprises a rich variety of flora and fauna. The range of regions is just as diverse: dry grassland, alpine and sub-alpine hayfields, alpine pastures, open and closed forest, gorges, riverine strips of woodland, the highest-altitude relicts of oak (Quercus pubescens) in Europe, expansive grassland and areas of dwarf shrub on silicate and limestone, as well as vast rock and talus formations. Despite its unique natural environment, the Sesvenna region has still not been granted any special protective status.
The local diversity
Based on longstanding preliminary studies by the Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum (Innsbruck, Austria), it has been ascertained that there must be far more than a thousand species of butterflies and moths within the Sesvenna region, a figure that can hardly be matched by any other European area of comparable size and at a similar altitude.
The excellent infrastructure in Vinschgau/Val Venosta makes the region easily accessible and ensures a pleasant stay. Moreover, for years the local inhabitants have had a supportive and positive attitude towards the research work being done on Lepidoptera. It is for these reasons that the members of the SEL decided that the Sesvenna Group should be the first Study Area.
Dr. Vito Zingerle
Natural Museum of South Tyrol
Bindergasse 1, 39100 Bozen, Italy