The Vaj forest Nature Reserve
Nearby in the river, still so much beauty to discover
A little to the south of the village of Castagneto di Po, there is a dense wood of various tree species, rich in biodiversity and very pleasant to explore by bike, on foot or on horseback along the many paths that cross it. Three of these paths lead up to the summit of the “Bric del Vaj”, the highest hill in the forest, where a tall cross stands out. This beautiful forest is also a protected nature reserve.
Why it is special
What makes people want to protect a forest more than others? In this case it is the special forest composition, made up mainly of chestnut and oak trees, but also of beech trees. Now comes the best part, because these particular trees are not supposed to be here. How did the beech trees get from the mountains to the Po hills? The most accredited hypothesis is that they “took refuge” here during the last glaciations, and this is a piece of news that makes us look at the forest with different eyes. When we walk along its paths, we are literally walking among “glacial relics”! Isn't that exciting?
Not to be missed
The local fauna doesn't really surprise, it is the same as in other areas of these hills. It is rather the vegetation that provides us with new reasons to marvel. In the undergrowth we may happen to spot the martagon lily, the mezereum flower and many species of orchids: some little hidden treasures just waiting to delight our senses.
A bit of history
The uniqueness of the Bosco del Vaj lies in its very long history, and in the anomalies left by the last glaciations in this area. However, humans also play their part, and this time they have done well and played in favour of biodiversity. Abandoning the usual way of cutting wood in the forest, which would soon have eliminated the beech specimens, they chose a more prudent management of the forest reserve. When we want to, we can be really good!
Good to know
The rocks in these hills are particularly soft and since the 18th century have revealed various fossil remains of plant and animal species that lived millions of years ago.
Credit to: Diego.balducci