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Asinara and Pianosa Island tourist carrying capacity assessment (Sardinia and Tuscany)

Background

The Asinara Island and the sea that surrounds it are between most protected European areas. Since 1997 it is a National Park; belongs to the Nature 2000 network as its territory is defined as a Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and its surrounding sea is a Marine Protected Area.

As for the Island of Pianosa, with all Tuscan main islands and some smaller islets, is part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park, the largest marine protected area in Europe.  The protected area was instituted in 1988 but Pianosa became part of it only in 1996 with the foundation of the Ente Parco.

Both islands have an high and complex level of ecosystem but the abandonment of agriculture and breeding, after the closure of the prisons, generated changes in biodiversity that are now hardly controlled by the Park authority. Sustainable tourism could be a great opportunity for the area, but tourists' presence is basically concentrated during summer season and the tourist experience is mostly one day excursion due to the low accommodation capacity. In the past years a CCA (Carrying Capacity Assessment)  was conducted for both islands, but each assessment was focused only on one criticality. The CCA of Asinara Island is concentrated on the historical heritage and its accommodation capacity; while the Pianosa ones focuses on concentration of CO2 produced by tourism activities.

How does the activity develop in Sardinia and Tuscany?

The project aims to support decision makers and local government on developing a tourism model, on each island, that, based on the consideration of environmental carrying capacity, can pursue the best use and management of resources. The carrying capacity for a tourism destination cannot be a fixed number but it can be altered by different environmental, social and economic factors. The future scenario must consider all these factors and, in the same time, the opportunities that can be generated by new activities compatible with the institutional aims of the National Park. The accommodation capacity and the possible use of the existing building heritage as accommodation structures must be tackled within the existing infrastructure (road network, water, electricity, sewage), as well as the services supporting the Park.

The project develops in three phases: 1) descriptive phase aimed at deepening the knowledge of the territorial system of the two islands, 2) evaluation phase based on the analysis of possible management strategy and evaluation of acceptable impact levels for both destinations; 3) strategic phase aimed at the definition of optimum capacity and at the formulation of a sustainable touristic development strategy.