Area Marina Protetta di Torre Guaceto, Italy

Area Marina Protetta di Torre Guaceto protects 22.3 km2 of marine and wetland space along the Adriatic Coast of South-East Italy. Founded in 1991 by the Italian Ministry of Environment on collaboration with the local Municipality of Carovigno and World Wildlife Fund Italy, Torre Guaceto was established in order to “safeguard marine biodiversity and biological resources and to promote and enhance the local economic activities provided which are compatible with the naturalistic aspects and landscapes of the area.” (GLORES Evaluation Report 2019)

In 2014 Torre Guaceto was found to be one of the richest examples of marine life in the Mediterranean. This marine life can be found in the seagrass beds, covering approximately half of the marine protected area, which protect hundreds of juveniles of crustaceans, fish, sponges and molluscs. There are also rare gorgonian coral formations found throughout the subtidal zone of Torre Guaceto as well. Along with being a designated marine protected area, Torre Guaceto is also recognized by the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance as “Ramsar Site 215” and in 2019, Torre Guaceto MPA further earned a silver level Blue Park Award for conservation excellence.

To learn more about tourism activities within Area Marina Protetta di Torre Guaceto check out the Puglia tourism website here or Torre Guaceto’s website here. The Torre Guaceto website offers examples of common tourist itineraries for the park as well as all of the activities available to the public.

Torre Guaceto’s management uses community engagement and tourism as a tool to help support the MPA both financially and through public awareness. The Torre Guaceto Visitor Centre was created and operates with the intended purpose of engaging with tourists, schools, and the local communities. The Centre hosts regular trekking excursions, wildlife watching activities, and snorkelling and sailing lessons. Additionally, as part of a collaborative project with WWF-Italy, the MPA has a turtle rehab and education Centre intended to increase the public and tourist’s knowledge of sea turtle habitat throughout the Mediterranean.

The Area Marina Protetta di Torre Guaceto is a regular feature of local tours like the “Discover the Valle d’ltria (Trulli land)” tour hosted by the Vito Maurogiovanni Tour Guide. These tours include the MPA as well as other points of historical interest throughout Puglia. Along with traditional tours, Torre Guaceto has a public beach which is heralded as one of the very best in the region which is regularly flocked to on summer weekends by both tourists and locals alike. 

As all points of public engagement with the MPA are funnelled through the Visitor Centre each visitor to the MPA has access to information about the incredible biological diversity and importance of the space as well as the rules for use which help protect it. Torre Guaceto is purposefully designed as an accessible space for both tourists and local residents alike making it a sustainable and equitable example of tourism and conservation.

Yes! There are currently four main conservation goals for Torre Guaceto’s management. One of which is the “Promotion of socio-economic development compatible with the aims of the reserve alongside existing traditional activities.” For Torre Guaceto this includes the continuation of existing conservation projects like the collaborative sea turtle monitoring program as well as the development of new collaborative programs to engage the public and tourists in monitoring for invasive species.

Maintaining equitability between local access and tourism is a key factor in the success of Torre Guaceto. This should be a priority for other protected areas around the world who have local communities who regularly access the intended protected space, therefore, increasing willingness to abide by protective regulations within both local residents as well as short term visitors. Programs which engage both user groups should be a priority for protected areas seeking to emulate Torre Guaceto’s model of tourism and conservation.

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