Safeguarding the living mountainous landscape of the Dolomites

D. Lira / Fondazione Dolomiti UNESCO
Published: 05 October 2020
Last edited: 26 May 2021
remove_red_eye 4302 Views


The Dolomites were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2009 as a group of nine mountainous systems. Inscribed under criteria (vii) and (viii) for their geological values, the Dolomites are a mix of multiple and dynamic natural and human-shaped Alpine landscapes. The Dolomites are not only an exceptional natural site but also a place of great cultural diversity and history made of communities with multiple cultural backgrounds, communities of minorities, a large spectrum of cultural traditions and sites, as well as one of the temples of alpinism, which was inscribed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2019.

The solution focuses on the role played by multiple formal and informal networks of communities and institutions in raising awareness on the Site values and promoting the huge natural and cultural diversity of the Dolomites, while aiming at active conservation of the landscape as well as at environmental, economic and social sustainability.


West and South Europe
Scale of implementation
Grassland ecosystems
Rangeland / Pasture
Tundra or montane grassland
Access and benefit sharing
Outreach & communications
Protected and conserved areas governance
Sustainable livelihoods
World Heritage
Other theme
heritage management
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Sustainable development goals
SDG 4 – Quality education
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 11: Protected and conserved areas


Cortina d'Ampezzo, Belluno, Italy | Pelmo, Croda da Lago; Marmolada; Pale di San Martino, San Lucano, Dolomiti Bellunesi, Vette Feltrine; Dolomiti Friulane and d’Oltre Piave; Dolomiti settentrionali; Puez-Odle; Sciliar-Catinaccio, Latemar; Bletterbach; Dolomiti di Brenta


The solution focuses on the work done in fostering the inclusion of local, communities, local stakeholders in the management of the Dolomites’ rich natural and cultural heritage.

The solution addresses the following challenges:

  • Environmental challenges: use of natural resources, sharing benefits with local actors, consider economic development and conservation needs together, holistically, in order to find a viable, sustainable path forward
  • Social challenges: changes in local communities and local actors, complex governance system that requires the commitment of political and institutional actors in five provinces and two regions, political and institutional changes in leadership positions, people’s awareness on the Outstanding Universal Value and other values
  • challenges: local economic development, food production in mountain regions, disconnection between food producer and consumer, tourism development.


Local communities living inside and near the area of the Dolomites, mountain hut managers and local producers of food products (farmers, breeders, foragers). Other beneficiaries are the protected areas, and the cultural traditions and practices .

How do the building blocks interact?

The five building blocks interact with each other in building a participated approach to the management and conservation of the Dolomites as a World Heritage Site, a protected are and a set of cultural landscapes.


The #Dolomites2040 participatory process contributed to the creation of the Site Management Strategy, in which active engagement of local communities and networked management are essential. #Dolomites2040 set therefore the stage for the establishment of key platforms for connection like the “Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Mountain Huts” (BB2) and the “Produttori di Qualità” (BB2) and the museum network (BB5). These platforms empower key local actors to become ambassadors for the promotion of the Outstanding Universal Value together with other natural and cultural values of the Dolomites. These local actors play a key role in raising awareness with the wider public on the importance of the conservation of the Dolomites through their experiences, lives and their tangible and intangible products (BB6).


The solution focuses on approaches that have been put in place for the enhanced and more active engagement of communities in the safeguarding of the Dolomites’ natural and cultural heritage. These approaches have widely contributed in fostering the empowerment of local actors as ambassadors and stewards of the site, as well as in recognizing the key role they play in raising awareness with the wider public.

Environmental, social and economic impacts of this process are closely interconnected and mostly to be seen in the long term. Nevertheless, awareness is crucial for having durable results, because only an aware community can share goals and perceive them as positive and desired, rather than imposed.

The solution includes working together with key stakeholders in the development of sustainable economic process to enable the livelihood of local communities though a virtuous system of quality production and hospitality that is mindful of the environment and the people living in this mountain area.

The solution features putting in places multiple platforms in place for the direct engagement of people so that to cooperatively identify issues, points of uncertainties as well as solutions and innovative processes that could benefit the site and its people.

Contributed by

info_39038's picture

Marcella Morandini UNESCO Dolomites Foundation