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The Island of Biodiversity
RaiTre - Geo 16/05/2024 
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Live from Culuccia Island, Sveva Sagramola interviews Sabrina Rossi, director of the Culuccia Nature Observatory. In the studio, environmental journalist Rita Salimbeni delves into the history of the island and its exceptional biodiversity, which has sparked several collaborations with three Italian universities: Torino Polytechnic, RomaTre University, and the University of Sassari.

(translated and voiced in English by AI)

There is a story, there are some stories that are worth telling because they are stories that give hope, that encourage, that are just beautiful. Today we’re telling you the story of a magical place, a pearl of Sardinia, a small island it’s a peninsula because you can get there even on foot or with a boat, it’s Culuccia Island, a place that has been preserved, saved, it has become a reserve of biodiversity of the Mediterranean maquis very important, all the endemism, all the creatures are studied there, there are a lot of research projects to tell us about it. Rita Salimbeni, an environmental journalist, came today to visit us. Dear Rita, nice to see you again, how are you? Always a pleasure, always a pleasure. So, tell us about the characteristics of this place that I said it’s an asset and it's a place that has been saved, Culuccia.

That's right, so in the meantime let’s position it geographically, it is located right with in front in the background the island of La Maddalena, we are in the land of Gallura and between Santa Teresa di Gallura and Palau it is an island not an island, in fact it is an ism of land connected precisely by this strip of sand also through a little bridge carriageway.

The geography is imaginable, here we see it in the picture, look how beautiful it is and how just there is nothing on it, there are two ancient buildings, yes.

So first of all, we have to start from a fact that it is a true example of Mediterranean scrubland as you said, an oasis of biodiversity teeming with animal and plant species truly of very rare beauty and has in fact already been since (…), declared an “oasis of wildlife protection”, and since (…), “area of public interest”, which therefore protects its entire system of bays.

It has a very special history, Culuccia, because it belonged to a Sardinian gentleman who protected it until he was the owner. What was the name of this gentleman? He was known as Angelo Sanna, he was known by everybody as “Ziu Agnuleddu” and he resisted. Here he is, is that him? Yes, that’s right. Everything is beautiful. And he had resisted to all the proposals that were made to him obviously by those who wanted to make speculation of tourist construction and he resisted. Then after his death the island went through a period of neglect until precisely when it was acquired by an enlightened, I would say entrepreneur and his wife. Super enlightened. For Piedmont who insisted, however, that according to the wishes of Angelo Sanna it should remain as such and have preserved its exact naturalistic heritage but also ensuring that minimum, let's say, of use but with a very low anthropic impact. You were just talking about these of these two architectural solutions that are called stazzu and are the typical houses of Gallura where families who had house, land, animals in an in an economy of self-sufficiency lived precisely.

What has become of these buildings?

They have precisely restored them however with an absolutely restoration respectful of what they were. So, let's connect, then come back and talk to Rita, let's connect with Sabrina Rossi who is the director of the Culuccia Island Nature Observatory, because Culuccia has now become an extremely important place for research, for biodiversity conservation.

Hi Sabrina, welcome to join us, where are you right now?

Hi everyone, I am along the southeast coast of Culuccia, and the maquis and the sea.

Here the scrub is very fixed, lush, and composed of many different species, here we can see some of them. There is for example the Cistomais, the Sirea, the Fident reed, and then on the beach there are traces of marine life.

Wonder.

Look, are there many research projects, Sabrina, on the island?

We have several, some we carry out independently as a nature observatory, others in collaboration with three universities, the Polytechnic University of Turin, the University of Rome III and the University of Sassari, but also with local part entities. For example, we have here near the Maddalena Archipelago a geo-mineralogical museum.

What are the special riches of Culuccia, at the level of biodiversity of specimens?

Right now we are focusing both on land but also very much on the sea. An important project that is continuing in collaboration with universities, which I was telling you about, is called POSEDON, National Research Project, which aims to map the seabed and monitor the state distant of the POSEDONites, which are submerged meadows formed by a marine plant, POSEDONIA OCEANICA. Here on the beach there are parts of POSEDONIA that have been beached, while from the shore also here this submerged meadow develops.

There are for example parts of its leaves, parts of its stem and these that are called EGAGRO, are little balls of the stem fibers rolled up by the movement of the waves on the shore.

Are there laws and measures that have been taken just to protect the marine biodiversity of this stretch of sea?

Fortunately, yes, in fact the sea surrounding Coluccia is part of a European network of protected areas called the Natura Two Thousand Network. In particular, these waters are protected for the presence down of the dolphin CINOXIDURTIUM, because we often see swimming off the ladder, for four uncommon seabird species.

How nice, I envy you, I would love to be there with you this afternoon and enjoy this really magical place, which is a visitable place, can you come for visits?

Yes, that is one of the activities that as an observatory we do. We accompany visitors who are curious about our island, three to five points guided tours within Culuccia.

So, I thank you so much Sabrina, good work, it was great to see you, to look closely at those crystal-clear waters, to know that they are protected, that they are full of life, thank you and good work.

I go back from Rita to Salim Beni, also for invertebrates, bees, butterflies, there are projects, because so many species have been found that are epidemic, that were unknown, right?

projects that have been precisely implemented on the island in together with the observatory as Sabrina Rossi said because we remember that it is also known as the island of cows. Yes, we saw earlier the cows in the film, they are of the native cows yes here they are native cows so much so that the department of agriculture just animal science of the university of Sassari did some sampling on these cows. They live there in the wild state that's really the characteristic that's why it's also called the island of cows, beautiful cows…

and so much so that I was there exactly a year ago, you find on the island scattered lots of little shelters or watering holes for animals also donkeys and other species of animals and then here are the donkeys and, as you were saying, there is a fantastic world above the land and below the land because Culuccia is home to as many as three different types of ecosystems: coastal, marine and terrestrial and speaking of just the here are also the hermit tortoises and these researches that you were mentioning actually they started to do them as early as January two thousand and twenty-two researchers from the University of Rome three together with Professor Mariottini and Andrea Di Giulio who is an entomologist and they have even monitored and identified almost eighty species of bees which represent almost a quarter of the known bee population on the island of Sardinia in whole twenty-three species of butterflies and also sixty species of spiders. Even the Polytechnic University of Turin had done a mostly technological line of research because it mapped the whole coastal part with the use of drones also of terrestrial laser scans and also started those seabed mapping works that Sabrina mentioned earlier that started the POSEIDON project.

We can say that just Culuccia is a real pearl, it's a treasure, it's a treasure that it's important that you were able to preserve it with the of the people who bought it, the great love for nature and humanity, this really shows to be people who love humanity. Thank you, thank you Rita Salimbeni, environmental journalist, thank you and see you next my dear.



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