The nature parks are protected natural areas recognized by state and regional legislation and, as far as the autonomous regions are concerned, by provincial laws too. In the South Tyrol there is a grand total of seven of these natural areas, set up and regulated by a provincial law dating to 1977 to which the South Tyrolean part of the Stelvio National Park is to be added.
Functions accorded to the nature parks by law are: scientific study of the environment, flora, fauna and ecosystems; defense of biodiversity; education and culture; as testimony to the past and memory of the future; as well as education for locals and guests whilst respecting the traditional human settlements which have contributed to the maintenance of the natural environment. They also perform a recreational function to ensure that these original, protected environments are enjoyed appropriately and respectfully.
As far as the towns of Marebbe and San Martino in Badia are concerned, most of their land is comprised within the Fanes Senes and Braies and Puez Odle nature parks. These are two of the South Tyrol’s most attractive nature parks and they are very different but equally beautiful. One - Fanes Senes Braies - is first and foremost an animal kingdom with a variety of extinct and current fauna, ranging from Ursus Ladinicus to the very timid marmots, representative of the whole Dolomite region.
The other - Puez Odle - is an open-air history book of the Earth, thanks to an area which has conserved evidence of the various geological eras of the rocks to be found in the Dolomites and which is easier to read than that of other areas, even to a non-expert eye.
Here, the Val Gardena sandstones, the Bellerophon formation, the La Valle and San Cassiano strata, Sciliar Dolomites and Raibl formations are like 250-million-year-old photographs.