Issues of concern

The stunning beauty of the Aeolian Islands has attracted explorers and travellers throughout history. The first inhabitants of Aeolian’s arrived around 5000 B.C.; in every island there are visible signs of settlement and archaeological remains. Etruscans, Greeks, Romans before, then Arabs, Christians, Aragons, Turks. The Aeolian Islands are part of the Unesco Heritage List since 2000, according to the two types of eruptions (Vulcanian and Strombolian)provided by the Islands and the important vulcanological studies done.
In last decades the Aeolian Islands have undergone considerable growth process, leading to untenable resource use, waste generation and extensive environmental degradation. With a residential population of 10,000 people, the Municipalities come under huge pressure since more than 100,000 tourists arrive during the summer season. This flow of tourists in a short period of time exceeds the capacity of the Islands ‘environment, and has generated serious demand for water and energy, while producing an increasing volume of wastes.

968827_10151452451428651_1336850580_n

Current Issues of concern included:

The Aeolian seas are areas with stunning fish populations. An important step is to create a network of all the local artisanal fishermen. The creation of natural marine protected areas is possible only if we protect local fishermen and involve them in projects and protection activities.

The wealth of fauna and flora of the Aeolian Islands and its clear waters are due mainly to the presence of sea grass that is still widespread along the coasts of the islands. Many prohibitions are not respected and boats are often anchored just above the undisturbed patch of scattered sea grass. It is important to create a monitoring system so to avoid future possibilities of new buildings and construction of marinas. The most important and famous beaches risk disappearing forever if we don’t act now.

The long term objective is to create a well-managed marine protected area across the Aeolian archipelago, to restore fish stocks, promote sustainable artisanal fishing, reduce pollution and protect rare habitats and species.

The Aeolian Islands have the opportunity to create something unique, thanks to the presence of active and exstinct Volcanos. It is also the way to promote an alternative responsible tourism with a revaluation of the existing natural value of Aeolian Islands.

Most of Aeolian Islands’ important habitats are coastal or marine areas, threatened by activities connected to high tourism. Even existing Natural Parks are at risk: protection has not safeguarded fragile habitats and there is no control at all. Tourism and environment protection can be very well connected, so to save the main economy for the citizens and to preserve the natural beauty of Aeolians.

Before the onslaught of tourism, the Aeolian Islands used to be self-sufficient and were farmed. Salina still remains a rural island where you can find agro-biodiversity, ancient seeds and traditional cultivations. Tourism has changed the originality of the islands and caused the abandonment of farming and now the islands’ food supplies depend totally on imports. This has caused not only the loss of the rural landscape and of traditional knowledge, but also has brought an increase in maritime traffic and a lack of essential resources during winter for islands like Panarea, Stromboli, Filicudi and Alicudi.  Privately grown crops make up less than 10% of required consumption.

The AIPF aims to promote the organic agriculture, the incorporation of new farmers to the lands, and to create a database of abandoned farms and gardens offered for ecological farming under a stewardship contract, so to create a chain and start the production and the distribution of Aeolian local products.

There are no natural springs on the Aeolian Islands and the water arrives at the ports by tankers (with a capacity 230m3 / 560m3) which drain the water through hoses into other fuel tanks which, through the use of engines, sort the water into the storage tanks and then it gets transported into the wells of the houses. Energy costs are exorbitant and difficult to sustain by the municipality of Lipari to which must be added the costs paid by the citizens. This also includes the cost of personnel and the cost of electricity for the lift pumps present in every home. Few houses still have tanks to collect rain water and these are normally used for the garden.

In Italy, to optimise the system of waste collection, they created the ATO institutes through the Ronchi Act (Dec.22 / 06), in order to achieve self-sufficiency in waste disposal, organise staff and facilities, and to ensure high standards. They also aim to achieve a greater use of compost spread at homes, which can be very useful for the garden. ATO has since 2011 awarded the sweeping service and collection of sorted MSW and the ECO to S.E.I.B. Ltd., the company that will collect the waste from dumpsters, put them in storage areas (absent in many of the islands), compact it and then send it to the landfill Mazzara Santandrea, always at the expense of the city. The curbside collection system, which this year will also be tested on the smaller islands, is not practical and there is no training given to citizens about recycling and ecology to sensitise them.

The Aeolian Islands are not self-sufficient in terms of energy and are equipped with diesel power plants that operate by engines owned by ENEL, with the exception of Lipari that has its own power plant. The power output of 4 megawatts and distribution of solar panels is hindered and uncommon. But the Aeolian Islands have an infinite wealth thanks to geothermal energy present everywhere and it would be desirable to increase, even by offering that Enel participate in a project on the use of geothermal energy as an alternative source of energy.