Environmental initiatives in the Mediterranean to look out for
At The Thinking Traveller, we believe that ecotourism and environmental conservation are cornerstones toward the well-being of our planet. That’s why we are on a journey to B Corp status. We aim to promote sustainable travel practices, raise awareness about the importance of environmental stewardship and create meaningful experiences that leave a positive impact on the destinations we visit, so that they may be enjoyed for years to come. That's why we’ve supported the Conservation Collective since 2015, an organisation dedicated to safeguarding biodiversity and ecosystems throughout the globe. Together, we are committed to implementing initiatives that protect, preserve and restore the natural wonders in the regions where we operate.
Our Work with The Conservation Collective
We’ve worked closely with The Conservation Collective for many years, but as of 2023 we will be taking a much more hands-on role: Rossella and Huw Beaugié, our Founding Directors, have joined the steering committee of the newly launched fund, an exciting opportunity that allow us to be at the forefront of future projects.
Who are the Conservation Collective and how do we support them?
The Conservation Collective represents a collaborative alliance of various organisations and individuals committed to environmental conservation. It consists of a network of affiliate members who share a common vision and work together to safeguard natural habitats, promote sustainable practices and address the challenges of climate change. They aim to make a meaningful impact on the preservation of biodiversity and the health of the ecosystems throughout the world. They not only support projects in the Mediterranean, but also other parts of Europe including the UK, the Caribbean and Asia.
This makes The Conservation Collective the perfect organisation to partner with to help us ensure sustainable travel is front of mind. When asked about The Conservation Collective in Conde Nast back in 2020, Rossella said:
‘The Conservation Collective, headed up by Ben Goldsmith and Jade Brudenell, is doing wonderful things in the field of sustainability and ecology. It has launched a series of projects around the world aimed at limiting the effects of tourism, preserving the natural wonders of destinations and promoting green practices. The local population always plays a lead role, and the funding raised is used carefully to support deserving initiatives. It also heightens awareness about ecological challenges and encourages visitors to practise responsible travel. Following the success of projects in the Balearics and the Caribbean, the collective set up the Aeolian Islands Preservation Fund a few years ago, and, in 2019, the Ionian Environment Foundation.’
The Ionian Environment Foundation
Our collaboration with the Ionian Environmental Foundation is an initiative aimed at promoting sustainable tourism and environmental conservation in the Ionian Islands. As a luxury villa rental company, we understand the importance of preserving the natural beauty and ecological integrity of the destinations we hold the keys to and that’s why we are part of the foundation’s ‘Villa Alliance’, to minimise our impact on the local environment.
They contribute financially to programs focused on protecting the islands' diverse marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, seagrass beds and endangered species habitats. These efforts are crucial in maintaining the ecological balance and ensuring the long-term sustainability of the Ionian Islands' natural resources. The ways in which they are doing this is through multiple projects that include marine conservation, biodiversity protection and sustainable development and resource management. An example of just some of these initiatives are:
Sustainable sailing guides
Recreational boating has many detrimental impacts on the marine environment and coastal communities. The Ionian region has seen huge growth in the number of boats available for charter, but very limited information is available for users on good practices, and how to avoid actions that will result in damage to the marine environment. The IEF has created the Sustainable Sailing Pack which will contain information on the Greek marine fauna and flora, how to avoid negative impacts when boating, responsible practices on board and on shore, and how tourists can support conservation efforts.
Waste awareness action week
This five day programme is designed to promote cross-generational awareness, understanding and action towards the critical issues associated with excessive waste disposal in the Ionian islands. It is an innovative programme that aims to educate children and bring systemic change with regard to how waste management is carried out in the region.
Cyclades Preservation Fund
The Cyclades Environmental Foundation is a valuable endeavour focused on promoting sustainable tourism and preserving the ecological integrity of the Cyclades Islands. Through their partnership, they actively support conservation projects and initiatives that protect the islands' diverse marine ecosystems and promote responsible tourism practices. As a luxury travel company, we want to educate our guests about the local environment and encourage them to engage in eco-friendly activities. By working with the Cyclades Environmental Foundation, we can contribute to the long-term sustainability and conservation of the Cyclades Islands, fostering a deeper connection between travellers and the natural beauty of the region. Some of their projects include:
The Cyclades care for dolphins
There is high concern for the conservation status and survival of many animals living in Greek waters, such as dolphins. Knowledge of the critical habitats in the Cyclades Archipelagos of endangered and vulnerable Mediterranean animals is currently inadequate to support conservation measures. This project aims to involve local communities to report sightings of marine wildlife to gather enough data to determine where conflicts with fisheries or other human activities could happen.
Clean Green Andros
The islands of Andros face waste management issues with the current waste levels outweighing the island’s ability to process it. There is an increase of single-use plastic and there is limited awareness about waste issues, water quality and the consequences of waste on human and animal life, as well as little information for residents and businesses to help improve the situation. To remedy this, the CPF are launching informative campaigns encouraging sustainable practices as well as policy changes which aim to transform Andros into a sustainable tourism destination for its visitors in all seasons.
Argolic Environment Foundation
Established in 2021, The Argolic Environment Foundation was created to educate communities of the Argolic Gulf in ways to champion sustainability and the protection of marine and terrestrial ecosystems. We work with the foundation to develop and implement practical solutions to the region’s most pressing environmental issues. Some of their projects include:
Posidonia protection in the Argolic Gulf
Seagrasses such as Posidonia oceanica are among the most important habitats of marine ecosystems. Seagrasses provide nursery and refuge grounds for a variety of coastal species. They are some of the most threatened ecosystems globally, so in 2022, AEF participated in the project of mapping seagrasses to better understand its coverage, distribution, and threats it faces, around the highly touristic islands of the Argolic Gulf.
The AEF is supporting the farmers of the region through a new grant on regenerative farming. This project aims to support farmers that want to transition to more regenerative farming practices. The Network of Argolida looks to connect with all other local networks for Regenerative Farming in Greece to further boost the movement and empower farmers beyond territorial borders, even beyond Greece.
The Sicily Environment Fund
The Sicily Environment Fund (SEF) is an organisation founded by Sicily enthusiasts dedicated to preserving and protecting the island's nature. Stemming from the Aeolian Islands Preservation Fund (AIPF), the SEF expands its focus to encompass the entire Sicilian region. Sicily's biodiversity and various habitats face threats, resulting in high rates of species extinction and habitat degradation. The SEF aims to address these challenges by building local coalitions and awarding grants to effective local projects and grassroots organisations.
We are actively participating in the SEF committee, leveraging our expertise in sustainable tourism to contribute to grant selection. By supporting initiatives that protect Sicily's natural heritage, we aim to create lasting positive environmental and social impacts. Our involvement and enthusiasm for environmental preservation showcases a commitment to preserving Sicily's beauty for future generations to enjoy.
Just a few examples of the projects they support are:
Ghost net recovery in Ustica
Ghost nets continue to trap and kill marine life but thanks to the SEF, over 150kg of nets have already been removed from the seabed, helping restore sea habitats to their natural condition. Operations are continuing while the SEF research opportunities for reusing and recycling the nylon nets.
Caper plant nursery in Stromboli
This project aims to promote sustainable food systems while contributing to the recovery of the landscape damaged by the 2022 fire that burned 1/3 of the vegetation of the island. The initiative aims to encourage the maintenance of abandoned uncultivated land to prevent new fires and reduce hydrogeological risk.
Natural guide training project
Working alongside rewildingeurope.com, the SEF looks to improve nature-based economy and tourism by recruiting guides to help preserve terrestrial biodiversity through land management, fire prevention and future rewilding measures. Training is delivered by a team of local and international experts using an international standard for wildlife tracking.
Through ecotourism, holidays can have a greater impact than simply allowing travellers to unwind. The Thinking Traveller's dedication to conservation is noted through our dedicated involvement in initiatives like the Ionian Environmental Foundation, the Cyclades Environmental Foundation and the Sicily Environment Fund. Though the Mediterranean Sea never stops moving, our commitment to sustainable tourism and environmental protection is unwavering. Visit our ecotourism page to learn more about our involvement in conservation initiatives.