The Umbra Forest (UNESCO)
“Umbra” is a Latin word meaning “shady” because it’s a dense and shady wood impressive for the extension and the beauty of its trees. Umbra Forest covers in the eastern part of the Gargano an area of about 12,000 hectares which is the green lung of the Gargano National Park.
The wooded area, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017 for its “Old Beechwoods”, is an intact and extraordinary “temple of nature”, with uncontaminated areas (precluded even to hikers) and numerous hiking trails. In the luxuriant vegetation of the upper zone, beech trees prevail, reaching almost 40 meters in height, but there are also badgers, hornbeams, maples and elms; at lower altitudes there are mainly oaks, holm oaks and maple trees. The undergrowth is also extraordinarily rich, where many varieties of wild orchids stand out, many of which are endemic.
Many species of animals live in the shade of giant trees, some common, such as wild boars, hares, foxes, martens and hedgehogs, others rarer, such as wolves and wild cats. Among the numerous birds are the dalmatian peaks and the rapacious species, such as the owl, the peregrine falcon, the tawny owl and the buzzard. The most characteristic animal, however, is the roe deer of the Gargano, an endemic species of the territory that stands out for its small size and for the particular color of the coat, which has no white spots on the throat and neck.