Puez-Odle/Puez-Geisler Nature Reserve
The Puez-Odle/Geisler Nature Reserve was extended in 1999 and now comprises an expanse of 10,722 hectares (25,194 acres). It extends from the Passo delle Erbe/Würzjoch in the north to the Passo Gardena/Grödner Joch to the south, and from Val Badia/Gadertal in the east to the Val di Funes/Villnöss valley and the Val Gardena/Gröden valley in the west. The nature reserve is named after the striking peaks of the Puez and the pinnacles of the Odle/Geisler massifs.
The nature reserve affords geologists unique insights into the history of the rock formations which make up the Dolomites comprising sedimentary formations and strata of shallow marine origin as well as rocks shaped by erosion. The abundance of fossils found here provides insight into the various epochs of the earth's history. Dolomite is the main sedimentary rock found in the Puez-Odle Nature Reserve, formed of an almost white crystalline mineral named after the French geologist Deodat de Dolomieu who first described the chemical composition of the rock in 1789. The Ladin ethnic group descends from the original Rhaeto-Romance population of the Alps whose language is a mixture the old Rhaetian-Celtic languages strongly influenced by vulgar Latin. During the Middle Ages other peoples moved into area from the north, south and east with the result that today Rhaeto-Romance language is spoken in just a few remaining enclaves. They include the Dolomite valleys Val Gardena/Gröden and Val Badia/Gadertal. The Nature Reserve Visitor Centre at Santa Maddalena/St. Magdalena in the Val di Funes/Villnöss valley is the main information point for the protected area focusing on its wealth of geological, biological and cultural features.