Considering its relatively limited size, Italy is one of the richest countries in terms of world heritage
sites. Forty-two of its 44 world heritage sites are, however, listed for exceptional cultural value and only
two for outstanding natural value. One of these, the Dolomites, includes the country’s best example
of a community conserved area, a type of governance that IUCN now refers to as ‘indigenous and
community conserved area’ (ICCA).
This case study traces the history of a community organization that, for a thousand years, has held and
shared under unbroken communal property a land rich in forests, pastures and related biodiversity. It
explores the way in which ancient customary laws for the governance of this territory have survived
practically unchanged in an environment that is now also home to millionaires’ villas and elite tourism.
The steps through which the Regole won statutory recognition for its customary law are described,
along with the institutional arrangements in place for the governance and management of the natural
park as well as the rest of the Regole’s common property. Lastly, lessons are drawn from this longstanding
ICCA experience and the challenges ahead are identified.