“Our project demonstrates that economic activities, when sustainable, can go hand in hand with nature conservation – even becoming an important source of revenue for protected areas”, says Antonio Canu from WWF Oasi, one of the founders of Terre Dell’Oasi.
Mr Andrea, a farmer in the Terre Dell’Oasi partnership adds: “The project helps us to sell our products on the national market, increasing our revenue. It stimulated me and the other farmers to start new ways of farming. We make organic products now.”
Since the start of the cooperative, income has doubled and the number of farmland birds has increased. It also stimulated other initiatives, like the ‘wildflower project’, aiming at recovering flowers lost due to intensive agriculture.
In 2010, WWF Oasi and a number of local cooperatives in the field of agriculture joined forces to create the Terre dell’Oasi partnership. Antonio Canu: “Our mission is to produce and market organic products from WWF / Natura 2000 nature reserves and neighbouring areas.”
Today there are ten cooperatives of farmers and producers involved. They work the 38 hectares of fields in the Penne regional nature reserve and the 20 hectares in the Orbetello lagoon nature reserve in Tuscany, transforming its crops into organic food products. Recently, new products have been included from other nature reserves and protected areas.
Farmer Andrea: “Being part of this initiative is not always easy, I have to meet several criteria. On the other hand I rediscovered traditional products and production methods. Through this project I was able to acquire more land and I can now sell my products on the national market. I am proud to make good Italian food and help preserve the beautiful landscape for my family and neighbours.”
The five criteria products need to meet are:
- An organic farming approach;
- Produced by farmers working in protected areas or in the immediate vicinity;
- Farmers also carry out nature conservation work;
- Production respects the national legislation on organic farming.
How it works
Revenues from sales are invested back into the management of the nature reserves and conservation projects. Fernando di Fabrizio, President of Terre dell’Oasi: “A pack of pasta from Terre dell’Oasi means healthy and quality food. Most importantly it holds an intrinsic “environmental attribute.”
The products from farmers in the initiative receive the Terre dell’Oasi label, allowing them to ask a higher price, comparable to organic food. Organic food is on the rise in Italy with 20% higher sales since 2010. Farmer Andrea: “The key success factor? I think the fact that the farmers are working together in a partnership, that we are part of the WWF network of protected areas. We pool resources, knowledge and share experiences.”
Antonio Canu: “I agree, but I also believe a big part of the success lies with having a brand like ‘WWF’ and ‘Natura 2000’ to boost marketing and sales.”