New legal entity enhances environmental policies of a Franco-Italian Marine Park

The Strait of Bonifacio is benefiting from a Sardinian-Corsican cooperation structure that is working to preserve and enhance its natural and cultural resources.

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The Strait of Bonifacio is an international strait between Corsica and Sardinia. © Olivier Bonnenfant/OEC The Strait of Bonifacio is an international strait between Corsica and Sardinia. © Olivier Bonnenfant/OEC

" A European legal instrument such as the EGTC is a major asset when it comes to managing a cross-border region, particularly an international strait such as the Strait of Bonifacio. It is more than simply a formal framework for collaborative work; it also allows two regions to speak with a common voice, regions that are now no longer divided by this strait, but united by it. "

Gianluigi Cancemi, head of the EGTC project for the Strait of Bonifacio International Marine Park in the Corsican Environment Office.

The idea of creating an international marine park arose in the early 1990s, and has come to fruition thanks to a new legal instrument, the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC). This body was proposed by the European Union to facilitate close collaboration between two neighbouring countries – in this case France and Italy – in order to implement a common strategy for sustainable development. Responsibility for the management of this new body is shared between the Corsican Environment Office, which manages protected areas in the southernmost part of the island, and the Maddalena Archipelago National Park in Sardinia.

Two regions, one marine area

The Strait of Bonifacio is a Mediterranean region with a protected ecosystem. The area houses around 3 000 animal and vegetable species, and boasts 10 % of the world's cormorant population. An environment such as this is bound to attract major tourist activity, and visitor numbers reach almost 1 500 000 during the summer. The strait is also a centre of merchant shipping (with 3 500 trading vessels per year), which means that more security regulations are needed to ensure that ecosystems are protected.

A shared vision and shared management

The Strait of Bonifacio International Maritime Park is currently profiting from the pooling of knowledge and objectives by its Sardinian and Corsican partners. This synergy is particularly visible in:

  • the implementation of scientific and technical surveys, carried out by joint teams, to evaluate the situation in both natural and man-made areas, as well as the region's socio-economic trends;
  • a shared methodology for the management of environmental problems related to maritime traffic and pollution risks;
  • the harmonisation of tourism management methods, particularly regarding the impact of sailing on protected species and the growth of the Caulerpa racemosa alga;
  • a policy to promote energy savings, particularly through the use of alternative energies.

Total investment and EU contribution

The total investment in the Strait of Bonifacio International Marine Park is EUR 1 860 378, and the contribution from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is EUR 1 395 283, falling under the Italy-France Maritime Cross-Border Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 period.

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