The Mediterranean region is considered as one of the richest places in the world for biodiversity: all the biological studies on the area underline the high number of endemic species living within it, number that can reach and often exceed 40% in some groups of organisms as in the case of plants.

The complexity, in terms of biodiversity, of the Small Islands shows the characteristics that have been adapted over time to the changed environmental conditions both of the sea and of the atmosphere, however allowing in many cases the permanence of the original ecological balances. The contribution provided by the islands to biodiversity at the level of the entire Mediterranean basin is fundamental both as a contribution to the specific plant diversity (floristic) both as a contribution to the diversity of habitats which allow the maintenance and survival of animal species: the Circumsicilian islands are, indeed, the ideal place for the growth of particular endemic species, furthermore, they constitute an important stopping place for bird migrations from the African continent of community importance.

In Italy there are 871 protected areas, which occupy a land area of 3,163,591 hectares (10.5% of the national territory). Among the protected areas at sea, the Marine Protected Areas are of particular importance, representative from marine environments consisting in seas, the seabed and overlooking stretches of coast, which have a significant interest in natural, geomorphological, physical, biochemical characteristics with particular regard to the marine and coastal flora and fauna and to the scientific, ecological, cultural, educational and economic importance they play.

Safeguarding the biodiversity inherent in the AMP, numerous laws have been adopted - nn. 979/82, 394/91, 344/97, 426/98 e 93/01 - providing a list of 50 retrieval areas, and encouraging the maintenance and development of the local economy through three main levels of differentiated protection (Zones A, B and C).

This excellence is however under attack by different threats:
climate change

About climate change:

"The consequences of climate change are increasingly tangible in Europe and in the whole world. The global average temperature, currently higher than 0.8 ° C at pre-industrial levels, is continuously increasing. Some natural processes have been modified. Precipitation dynamics are changing, the glaciers are melting, the water surface of the seas is rising "(European Commission COM 2013-2016).

There is no doubt that climate change mitigation is the most important challenge facing our land; however, often climate changes are placed in the background, not considering them as the cause of the current climate changes.

The adaptation policies in our country have recently started, and local authorities begin to think about how to intervene in the area, also following the indications of the Kyoto Protocol and of the european aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the use of fossil fuels.

At Smartisland we work to ensure that our territory can best meet the needs of combating climate change, proposing solutions starting from the islands of the Mediterranean, to preserve the crystalline waters and the ecosystem there.


There are several interventions that can be implemented, for the protection and conservation of the natural environment, priority outlined, in six macro areas:

territorial planning: interventions in this area for a limitation of land use of the areas destined to agriculture and related infrastructures

prevention and management of territorial vulnerability: the area mainly concerns water resources and provides for the implementation of policies and adaptation actions ranging from ordinary soil maintenance (in order to ensure its stability) to the realization of containment works

urban planning: foresees, as a matter of priority, the limitation of urban expansion, the re-use of settlements and the definition of urbanized land improvement standards; furthermore, disused production areas and the redevelopment of the building heritage must also be protected

water cycle: through the reduction of soil impermeability, water storage, the realization of dual sewage systems, the restoration of the functionality of the draining water system through an increase in green areas

urban green: green areas promote thermoregulation in urban areas and mitigate the effect of the heat wave. Therefore, the microclimatic function of urban green can be achieved through the provision of public green areas.

Climate change adaptation measures respond to different sectors, and in this regard we find a series of new technologies proposed by different countries in different sectors, as you can see in the sheets available on this site, in the Energy, Waste and Mobility sections. But at the same time it’s possible to define adaptation strategies, in fields not included in the other sectors analyzed in the above forms.

Biodiversity: better management of designated protected areas or creating 'Core areas' that protect the animal species that are forced to move in buffer zones

Water resources: integrated management of hydrogeological basins, reduction of waste and optimization of consumption, limitation of non-priority water uses (artificial snow, etc.)

Forests: protect generic variability and reinforce refuge areas; long-term ecological research programs

Agriculture: cultivation of products that optimize resources (water); balance between cultivated areas and set-aside areas; water saving with less demanding crops; water concessions depending on the availability of the resource, defense of typical products with an alliance between small producers

Wetlands: they require integrated management of the water cycle and a management path for public participation; coastal, to realize natural structures for the containment of coastal erosion, restore sediments from rivers, study the phenomena of subsidence of the soil by stopping the causes produced by man; mountainous, it is necessary to restore the eco-hydro geological functionality of the territory, increasing the water retention capacity, as well as defining tourist plans that enhance the natural heritage of the mountain.

Protected Marine Areas

In order to establish a protected marine area, a stretch of sea must first be identified by law as a "marine retrieval area". Once the investigation procedure has been launched in the marine procurement area, this is considered as a protected marine area of the next establishment.

The marine protected areas are established according to the laws n. 979 of 1982 and n. 394 of 1991 with a Decree of the Minister of the Environment that contains the denomination and the delimitation of the area, the objectives and the discipline of protection to which the protection is aimed.

Each area is divided into three types of areas with different degrees of protection: they are constituted by marine environments, given by the waters, by the seabed and by the facing coastline, which have a significant interest for the natural, geomorphological, physical, biochemical characteristics with particular regard to the marine and coastal flora and fauna and for the importance scientific, ecological, cultural, educational and economic. They can also be constituted by a marine environment having significant historical, archaeological-environmental and cultural value.

In Italy, there are 27 marine protected areas, as well as 2 submerged parks, which protect approximately 228 thousand hectares of sea and about 700 km of coastline.

These areas are generally divided into different types of areas called A, B and C: the intent, in fact, is to ensure maximum protection to areas of greater environmental value.

The areas of Zone A are considered integral reserve, or it is an area off limits to all activities that may cause damage or disturbance to the marine environment. Zone A is the true heart of the reserve. In this area, identified in small areas, only scientific research activities and service activities are generally permitted.

Zone B areas are considered a general reserve, where they are allowed - often regulated and authorized by the management body- a series of activities that, while granting a sustainable use and reuse of the environment, they have to have the minimum impact within the least possible impact. Even the B areas are usually not very extensive.

Finally, the areas of Zone C, of partial reserve, constitute the "buffer zone" between the areas of greatest naturalistic value and the sectors outside the marine protected area, where they are permitted and regulated by the management body, in addition to what is already permitted in other areas, the activities of sustainable use and use of the sea with a modest environmental impact. The largest extension of the marine protected area generally falls in the area C.


Best Practices

A first example of Best Practices is given by the "10000 trees for Pantelleria" initiative, not to forget the 2016 fire is not only a valid best practice but also a commendable crowdfunding initiative, or a collaborative collection of contributions that aims to sensitize the community to the spontaneous donation of money to support the implementation of virtuous interventions related to the care of common goods and quality of life.

The project aims at the reconstruction of part of the wooded heritage  of Pantelleria Island, partially destroyed by a fire in May 2016, a fire that destroyed 600 hectares of woods and native vegetation, equal to almost 10% of the entire surface of the island .

Also in the Egadi Islands we find three projects of Best Practices inserts in the marine protected area:

1. The MASTER project (Anti-trailing measures for protection and repopulation), envisaged the positioning of 72 bollards to counter illegal bottom trawling and the creation of 14 boating pleasure boating camps, installed around the three islands for a total of about 150 buoys; the protection of the marine ecosystem, through the reduction of the impact of human activities on the environment and the resources and the attractive and repopulating capacity of the modules, has contributed to the improvement of the state of the sea. A minor over-exploitation of fishery resources has resulted in a greater assortment of specimens and species for small-scale coastal fishing operators; at the same time, the conservation of Posidonia oceanica prairie habitat translates into a greater contribution to the reduction of climate-altering emissions (CO2 absorption and oxygen production);
2. the GERIN project (Management of natural resources), for the sustainable management of Posidonia oceanica spiaggiata (endemic aquatic plant of the Mediterranean Sea, of fundamental importance as it protects the beach against erosion caused by waves): in fact, the project made it possible to improve the quality of the seabed, where the Posidonia oceanica prairie showed signs of deterioration, due to the strong interaction with the anthropic activities, in particular the anchoring of pleasure boats. The biomass system has allowed the engrafting of new seedlings and has encouraged the re-heating of the prairie. The project, thanks also to the application of illustrative signs, has allowed a diffusion to the general public and users on the need to use sea and resources in a sustainable way, on the importance of Posidonia oceanica for the seabed and the need to keep the prairie intact, for the correct balance of the ecosystem.
3. the GELSO project, consisting of a database on good practices for local sustainability, that it is a working tool at the disposal of P.A., of the associations, of the technicians, of the citizens and of all those interested in what is being done in the field of Sustainable Development.

Another interesting project is "Terra Mare", which is part of the Pelagie Islands, proposing itself as a model of protection and management of coastal protected areas, based on the very close interconnection between the coastal areas (falling within the nature reserve) and the marine areas (falling within the Pelagie Islands Marine Protected Area).

The project plans to tackle some critical issues of the two coastal protected areas and the territory proposing to the local community an active role in the protection and management of natural environments and identifying new ways of enjoying and living protected areas based on naturalistic tourism and strengthening local identity.

Two main themes of a general nature on which the project wants to affect: migrations and conservation of nature and the integrated and interconnected management of coastal protected areas. Moreover, the Municipality of Lampedusa and Linosa is strongly involved in the project, taking part in the structuring and protection actions of the marine protected area, and in particular to the realization of the underwater itineraries and in the coordination of actions for the reorientation of the use of the beach towards compatible forms on the island's beaches.

Smart Island is a project funded by the Ministry of Education, University and Research and carried out by CNR IIA which aims to find solutions to increase energy efficiency, economic and environmental sustainability of the whole system of production, management, distribution and use of the island of Lampedusa.