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Gargano National Park
From a biological point of view, the Gargano promontory is actually an island, divided from the peninsula by Tavoliere delle Puglie plateau. It is rich in karst structures like caves and dolines. While in the past the promontory was entirely covered with forests, now they represent only the 15% of its original surface area: the most important woodland in the Park is Foresta Umbra.
The Park preserves an extraordinary concentration of different habitats: rocky coasts, the big and hot southern valleys rich in rare flower and wildlife species, the central beech woodlands situated at low altitudes (300m asl) and rich in centuries-old specimens, Mediterranean pine forests with Aleppo pines, with specimens more than 500 years old. As far as wildlife is concerned, the peculiarity of the promontory is given by the presence of the roe deer (one of the very few autochthonous nuclei in our Country) and several kinds of woodpeckers (Great-spotted Woodpecker, Middle-spotted Woodpecker, Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, and Lilford's Woodpecker - the Lesser-spotted and Lilford's Woodpeckers are very rare and live in Italy only in protected areas): they enhance the naturalistic value of these forests.
Both the undergrowth of Gargano forests and the prairies are very rich in flowers. Gargano is the richest location in orchids in Europe and in the Mediterranean basin, with 56 species and 5 sub-species. Moreover, in the past the promontory played an important role in the connection with the Balkan flora and fauna, as it is demonstrated by the presence of the so-called "trans-Adriatic" species.
In the past, this forest was part of the original and millenary forest of Gargano promontory. Today, Foresta Umbra is still the most representative area of the Gargano hinterland. Despite the devastations and the foolish tree cutting carried out in the latest three centuries, which led to the disappearance of the woodland from the hills and the mountains, the Forest preserves his majesty and variety with a rich variety in species, trees and shrubs. The origins of the Forest name are not clear: the number of explanations that have been given are all acceptable, but not enough to reveal them.
According to one of them, the name "Umbra" comes from "Umbri", an ancient people belonging to the Celtic branch, who used to live in the forest robbing and pillaging the shepherds; a more simple explanation argues that the name of the forest comes from its characteristic darkness (as a matter of fact, the Italian term "ombra" means "shadow").(Fonte www.parks.it)