24 municipalities have territories situated in the Park, with about 24.000 people living in the area.
The economy of the area is based mainly on tourism, due to the importance of natural resources, beautiful landscapes and many facilities created by the Park.
Agriculture, livestock breeding, pastoral activities and craftsmanship are also important in this integrated economy that combines traditions and innovation.
At the end of the 19th century only a few Marsican brown bears and Apennine chamois survived in these mountains. To stop the slaughtering and the full extinction of these species, King Victor Emanuel II established the king's hunting reserve, closed after a few years due to high maintenance costs.
On October 2nd 1921, a federation from Bologna promoted the institution of the first protected area in Italy by leasing 500 hectares of the Camosciara area from the municipality of Opi, forming the initial core of the park located in the higher part of the Fondillo Valley.
This has steadily expanded over the years to its present size of 50,000 ha of Park area and 80,000 ha of buffer zone.
On November 25th 1921, by acclamation through an opening ceremony, the "autonomous body of the Abruzzo National Park" was established.
In 1922, through the initiative of a temporary board headed by Erminio Sipari, local member of the Italian parliament, a territory of 12.000 hectares, owned by 7 municipalities, became the Abruzzo National Park.
Later on, the government, through the decree-law of January 11th 1923, legally recognised this institution.
The Park territory is divided in 4 different zones:
The park, besides being the oldest national park in Italy, is also the richest in biodiversity.
Here lives one of the rarest world species, the Marsican brown bear, that can weigh more than 200 kg. The population of this plantigrade with a very solitary, quiet behaviour doesn't reach 100 individuals.
They feed on what nature offers: fruits, berries, grass, insects, honey, plants, roots and other animals.
In the Park live also the endemic Apennine Chamois, the Apennine wolf, the red deer, the roe deer, the wild boar, the golden eagle and the white-backed woodpecker, together with many other species, composing an exceptional biodiversity.
The flora of the Park is very rich, so it has always been worth studying.
More than 2000 different species of higher plants have been listed, without mentioning moss, mushrooms, lichens and algae.
Many of them are endemic, rare or endangered.
Almost 60% of the Park territory is covered by woods. Prevalent are the beech-woods that can be found between 900 and 1800 meters above sea level, so they contribute to create a very colourful landscape that changes from season to season.
Present status of bear research
In 2003 the Park subscribed an agreement with the department of Animal and Man Biology of the University of Rome to implement a research on large carnivores, focusing their interest principally on the Marsican Brown Bear.
Aims of the study are to:
Since 2004, 14 individuals of Marsican brown bear have been captured and fitted with a radio-collar. They are now being monitored with radio-tracking techniques, to better understand their behaviour and space use.
Park rangers: the Park has its own Rangers Corps formed by 42 elements.
Education and volunteers: In the Park the volunteers are linked to the educational service, and during their stay they will have the assistance of the park's staff. The educational department organises and coordinates guided tours and facilities on the Park area with its own staff but also for local organisations.