The zoning of the Biosphere Reserve

The “Isole di Toscana” (Islands of Tuscany) Biosphere Reserve covers a total area of 1,079,540 hectares, of which 28,929 are on land and 150,611 are marine areas.

Core Areas

The core areas of the Biosphere Reserve are part of the land, sea and biodiversity protected by the Tuscan Archipelago National Park.

The core areas are intended for the conservation of the natural environment in its entirety. This conservation regime includes all active projects aimed at restoring and/or maintaining beneficial conditions for all varieties of plant and animal life or for several of its particularly precious species. In the Tuscan Archipelago Biosphere Reserve, the conservation of the landscape (and therefore of its biotic and abiotic elements) also takes on special value.

These areas can be accessed on a limited basis by visitors via existing footpaths, specifically designated rest areas and identified diving routes. Visitors can enter the Park at official opening times and places and with the assistance of specially delegated staff. Activities authorised or implemented by the Park Authority for the maintenance/restoration of the landscape and natural systems are also permitted.

The core area of the Biosphere Reserve covers 5,807 hectares, 51% of which is on land and the remainder is offshore.

Buffer Areas

In the buffer areas it is largely forbidden to build new buildings, expand existing buildings and carry out land transformation works. Traditional methods of production by the local population are permitted (when not in conflict with the conservation guidelines of the National Park). The construction of infrastructure strictly necessary for traditional agricultural activities is authorised. Natural resource management projects, such as the regulation of surplus animal populations or invasive and alien animal and plant species and maintenance of existing works, must be specifically authorised by the Park Authority.

Locally, the protection regime is limited to the conservation and enhancement of traditional agricultural methods. These have been identified starting from the landscape and cultural characteristics linked to the specific nature of cultivation models compatible with the prominence of natural and cultural features. Transformation projects linked only to agro-forestry-pastoral activities are permitted in these areas. The elements characterising the landscape structure such as terraces, elements of the minute ecological network (tree nucleuses, rows, single monumental trees, bushes, hedges) must also be preserved, as well as the enhancement of local quality products.

The buffer areas are impacted by a network of footpaths and are the preferred destination for educational activities, especially regarding environmental sustainability (including initiatives aimed at involving the population in the maintenance and care of the local area) and biodiversity.

The buffer area covers 79,990 hectares, of which 14,913 are on land and 58,077 are offshore.


Transition Areas

The Archipelago is suited to tourism and local agriculture, fishing and industry are largely influenced by the demand for goods to supply visitors to the islands. For the same reasons, building land is limited. This has meant that urban areas are only to be found on the larger islands both historically (due to the need to procure resources, especially water) and in recent times (in order to guarantee an adequate number of services).

The functions of development are therefore focused on towns and villages and implemented, in the period of reduced tourism, towards a resident population that slightly exceeds 34,000. The functions of development of the Reserve change and extend more in the summer period, where the number of tourists largely exceeds the number of residents. The functions of development are mainly carried out by the Territorial Authorities, by businesses and by the National Park. Many local and national associations and NGOs also work in the area to promote cultural events and sustainability education. All these organisations carry out their activities mainly in the inhabited areas of the larger islands (Elba, Giglio, Capraia) and, through the ports, make a large part of the Archipelago accessible. Ports in particular play a significant role in this context as they provide access to the entire Biosphere Reserve, points of economic and cultural exchange, refuelling and refreshment points, poles of attraction for activities aimed at tourists, landing places for ferries and connection with the mainland.

Finally, the transition area appears to be the part of the territory where it is possible to experiment with development and education strategies aimed at a wide range of users: from residents to tourists and tour operators to businesses. It also enables access to the "reservoir" areas of biodiversity, the buffer areas, which the transition area envelops.

The transition area covers 1,000,744 hectares, almost entirely of land at sea (about 99%).