Molise area, Italy

Sustainable eco-tourism and innovative approaches to mitigate human impacts on nature and increase land-sea synergies

Local Economy Development
Alternative Tourism
A regional example illustrating how sustainable ecotourism can foster coastal-rural collaboration, unified territorial strategies, and create business opportunities. Natural resource protection can be opportunities for sustainable development and environmental awareness practices.


The Molise area lies on the Adriatic Sea, the countryside is mostly mountainous. This rural area is characterized by agricultural practices with high-quality products (such as wine and olive oil), spontaneous coastal development which could put strong pressure on the coastal ecosystem with the growing disappearance of the dune system. This area has similar characteristics to the Greek COASTAL case study.




  • Lack of cooperation
  • Lack of information/communication
  • Public awareness & lifestyle (including food habits...)
  • Seasonal pop variability 
  • Sustainable economic growth


The ‘Costa dei Delfini’ initiative is a very interesting practice: A number of coastal and rural municipalities of the Molise region have decided to collaborate and define a unified economic strategy in order to increase the number of tourists, but also spread the flow of coastal tourists more evenly in the region by attracting visitors towards local environmental assets (lakes, naturalistic areas of great value), away from the coastline. A territorial marketing project was created, based on eco-sustainable tourism and territorial branding to create new tourism of naturalists' and ornithologists' interest. A dedicated web portal  supported the dissemination of touristic information, with additional summer events taking place in the areas attracting a large number of local and national tourists (museums, churches, etc.).

Another local practical example of how eco-tourism based on a natural protected area can foster coastal-rural collaboration and creates business opportunities: the establishment of the Nature Reserve in Casacalenda, a strategic starting point for an integrated plan of support for the start-up of socio-economical activities linked to territories' characteristics, such as organic food and agrotourism. The Visitor Centre of the Nature Reserve played an active role in promoting such economic activities by giving information and distributing promotional leaflets about local enterprises. It has established a mutual and informal ongoing cooperation process, between the Nature Reserve and enterprises considering that the Nature Reserve promotes local products and receptivity services while local enterprises bring their customers to the Reserve. The cooperation with local private entities that deal with reception and gastronomic sectors has strongly increased, and new businesses emerged (guesthouses, B&B, etc.) providing accommodation facilities inland.



  • Agro- & eco-tourism
  • Improve sustainable management of natural areas
  • Education and environmental awareness
  • Improve communication and governance





  • Nature conservation
  • Biodiversity loss
  • Sustainable economic growth
  • Lack of information/education
  • Stakeholders Conflict 


The MAESTRAL Life project (focused on coastal dune ecosystem restoration) in the Molise region gives a good practice example in terms of mitigating conflict between stakeholders and improving conservation, but also promoting natural heritage and environmental awareness by involving citizens and tourists in environmental education activities. An environmental education program addressed to schools was carried out by a non-profit organization, numerous ecological tracking were organised with wildlife experts, as well as recreational activities and workshops with children, and footbridges were realised to avoid trampling and better preserve the natural area. Natural conservation, preservation, and restoration projects can be an opportunity for developing natural sustainable management practices, sustainable eco-friendly tourism, and local environmental awareness



  • Agro- and eco-tourism
  • Improve sustainable management of natural areas 
  • Education and environmental awareness