Travel Notes blog
The Sicily Environment Fund - three successes of 2023 (and a peek at 2024)
by Max Lane
3 min read

The Sicily Environment Fund - three successes of 2023 (and a peek at 2024)

The Sicily Environment Fund - three successes of 2023 (and a peek at 2024)
Rossella, one of our founders, and several of our villa owners sit on the steering committee of the Sicilian Environment Fund, a member of the Conservation Collective. We look back at a few of the successes of 2023 and give you an exclusive sneak preview of some of the sustainability-driving plans for 2024.
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Plans for 2024

The Sicilian Environment Fund (SEF) is busy finalising projects and fundraising for 2024, but we can already reveal that two of the collaborations will be with Collettivo Rewild Sicily and the MuMa maritime museum in Milazzo. Details of all the projects will be released next week, so if you'd like to find out more as soon as possible, visit the SEF website then.


If you would like to help fund the projects for 2024, between 18th to 25th April 2024 you can make a donation through our BigGive Green Match Fund page. Once an initial £10,000 has been raised, the Green Match Fund will double the final total.

A look back at 2023

2023 saw the completion of several successful projects that demonstrate the added value that the Sicily Environment Fund can bring to the Mediterranean’s largest and most diverse island. Working in tandem with local organisations and communities that have a profound connection to their terroir, the fund is able to cast its net widely and support a whole range of initiatives.

Summing up 2023, Cinzia Rutson, Chair of the Sicily Environment Fund, said, “I am delighted with the results we achieved together. Our passionate team has been actively identifying and developing relevant environmental initiatives, and I believe our commitment will be a driving force to inspire community-led action and sustain the unique beauty of Sicilian nature."

Here below are some of 2023’s key projects:


Plastic-free schools on small Sicilian islands

Students from schools on Lipari, Vulcano, Salina, Panarea, Stromboli, Filicudi, Alicudi, Pantelleria, Ustica, Favignana, Levanzo, and Marettimo were invited to take part in a little competition to design educational campaigns on how to eliminate single-use plastics.

The three winning schools, based on Favignana, Ustica, and Pantelleria, will each receive a water purification system, allowing some 330 students to abandon plastic bottles (an effective reduction of 57,000 bottles a year).

Financed by the Conservation Collective, Depeche Mode and Hublot, and organised by the Sicilian Regional Delegation of Marevivo, it is a fabulous achievement with both practical and educational implications.

Ustica ghost nets

Ghost nets – lost or abandoned fishing nets that clog up the seabed, trap and kill marine life – were the focus of an initiative on the island of Ustica and its surrounding waters. Documented in a film made by Stefano Coco of Riccio Blu, the project was financed by the Sicily Environment Fund and carried out by the those working for the Protected Marine Area of Ustica, Mare Nostrum Diving and local fishermen. Some 500kg of ghost nets from 5 sites on the seabed around Ustica were removed and some were transformed into an educational art installation for Depeche Mode’s concerts in Milan in the summer of 2023.


Caper plant nursery on Stromboli

In collaboration with the residents of Stromboli, a caper plant nursery was established on the island. One of the main aims of the project was to promote sustainable food systems while at the same time contributing to the recovery of the landscape damaged by a fire in 2022. By encouraging the maintenance of abandoned and uncultivated land, the project also seeks to prevent other fires and to reduce hydrogeological risk. Drystone walls, terraces, and an agricultural cistern were restored, and a solar-powered irrigation system was installed.