Mount Etna is an iconic site encompassing 19,237 uninhabited hectares on the highest part of Mount Etna, on the eastern coast of Sicily. Mount Etna is the highest Mediterranean island mountain and the most active stratovolcano in the world. The eruptive history of the volcano can be traced back 500,000 years and at least 2,700 years of this activity has been documented. The almost continuous eruptive activity of Mount Etna continues to influence volcanology, geophysics and other Earth science disciplines. The volcano also supports important terrestrial ecosystems including endemic flora and fauna and its activity makes it a natural laboratory for the study of ecological and biological processes. The diverse and accessible range of volcanic features such as summit craters, cinder cones, lava flows and the Valle de Bove depression have made the site a prime destination for research and education. © UNESCO
2020 Conservation Outlook
Current state and trend of VALUES
Overall PROTECTION and MANAGEMENT
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Description of values
One of the world’s most active and iconic volcanoes
One of the best-studied and monitored volcanoes
The Park has obtained a state funding from MIBACT (Tourism, Cultural and Environment Heritage Ministry) to implement the project entitled “Strengthening management capacity of the Mount Etna UNESCO Site”, including participatory initiatives aim to finalize and update the Management Plan.
The above-mentioned MIBACT project, "Strengthening management capacity of the Mont Etna UNESCO site" aims to address and comply with the World Heritage Committee recommendation, both to strengthen staff technical capacity, and to review and implement the Management Plan. Furthermore, the project includes communication activities, such as the creation of a logo, a website, and an App to communicate the main values of the site (IUCN Consultation, 2020). Moreover, many tourism facilities have been restored within the buffer zone towards ensuring that the outstanding geological features are not adversely impacted by increasing tourism pressures, as requested bt the World heritage Committee.
Additional monitoring projects that are also underway on other themes include tourist flow, of Grotta del gelo (iced lava caved within the property) etc.
|№||Organization||Brief description of Active Projects||Website|
|1||NGOs Giacche Verdi Bronte (Italy) and Manfred-Hermsen-Stiftung (Germany)||“The joint activity of the environmental NGOs Giacche Verdi Bronte (Italy) and Manfred-Hermsen-Stiftung (Germany) aims for saving the threatened „1000 years old oak trees” at Mount Egitto" which is part of Mount Etna.||
|2||Ente Parco Etna / Accademia Italiana di Scienze Forestali||“Monitoraggio vegetazionale, forestale e dell’avifauna” (Vegetation, Forestry and Avifauna Monitoring). Core zone - Mount Egitto (which is part of Mount Etna). The presence of centuries-old plants is remarkable in relation to the fast dynamic of the forest environment, which is heavily influenced by the volcanic activity that rarely allows the conservation of old vegetation. An important exception is represented by a cinder cone of modest size isolated by surrounding lava flows: Monte Egitto. Along the flanks of this small mount (“monticcitto”) and within the crater itself, old-growth oak forest is present. The Ente Parco appointed the Accademia Italiana di Scienze Forestali with the realisation of a detailed monitoring plan for the forest. The monitoring aimed at evaluating the initial state of the monumental tree exemplars and of some of the ecosystem’s key components in the pre-intervention phase. Once the pre-intervention monitoring was completed at the end of summer 2015, the Forest department removed the pine plants which could have interfered with the centuries-old oaks, according to the guidelines provided by the Accademia. In 2017 the Accademia Italiana di Scienze Forestali performed the post-intervention monitoring. The removal of the pine trees planted close to the centuries-old oaks is the first of a series of interventions, which, in the long term, will allow the perpetuation of the oak trees, provided that the project is carried out in collaboration with the agents that in various capacities can contribute to achieve this common goal.||
|3||Ente Parco / Servizio Fitosanitario forestale dell’Azienda Foreste Demaniali- Regione Siciliana||“Monitoraggio dell’Entomofauna” (Enthomofauna Monitoring)|
|4||Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia INGV, Ente Parco Etna||Placement of dynamic digital panels along geological sites inside Etna natural Park. Reorganization, enhancement and promotion of the Museum of Etna (Museo Vulcanologico dell’Etna), located in Nicolosi (CT), through a new interactive concept of museum, in order to increase the spread of scientific research and its impact on society|
|5||Ente Parco Etna / Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Biologiche, Chimiche e Farmaceutiche dell’Universita’ di Palermo||“Study on biology and eco-ethology of wildcat in the Regional Park of Etna, and implementation of a conservation plan”. The European wild cat (Felis silvestris silvestris) has a wide distribution in Europe and is classified as “least concern” (species at minimum risk) by IUCN, even if the populations are declining in the whole area. It is registered in the red list of the Italian vertebrates and, at the legislative level, it is listed in the directive ‘Habitat’ of the European Commission. The only Mediterranean wild cat population that is not the result of human introduction lives in Sicily and, more importantly, a recent study highlighted that this population’s genetic patrimony is clearly divergent from the continental Italian population, making it a distinct conservation unity. Due to its insular condition, the preservation of this population in optimum conditions is even more necessary. In 2015 the Etna Park in collaboration with the Department STEBICEF of the University of Palermo launched a research project on the European wild cat within the Park. The research was again carried out in 2018, but this time, it was aimed at clarifying the existing state of the wild cat, the wild rabbit, and the Sicily’ s rock partridge in the Etna Park’s territory, by means of data processing.||
|6||Ente Parco Etna / Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Biologiche, Chimiche e Farmaceutiche dell’Universita’ di Palermo||Agreement for the implementation of the project “Investigation and monitoring for Sicilian rock partridge, wild rabbit and wildcat conservation in the Etna Park area”.|
|7||Ente Parco Etna / University of Catania||Overall tourist flow analysis. Mont Etna Park Authority, jointly with the University of Catania, has carried out a study on tourist flows, recently updated to the latest available data, to understand if, and to what extent, the inscription of Mount Etna on the World Heritage List has had an influence on the quantity and type of tourists.||
|8||Ente Parco Etna||PO-FESR 2014-2020. EU funded project that allowed to improve the Park's network of hiking trails in recent years. Interventions entailed new signage/signposts improving information for the visitors, and improvements in the interconnection between the key points for hiking and existing/accessible refuges/huts. In 2020 a further improvement of the network of hiking trails is planned. This project was put in place on the basis of the recommendation received in 2017 (i.e., to work towards an "Improvement of visitor facilities").||
|9||Ente Parco Etna/Centro Speleologico Etneo- funding from MIBACT (Tourism, Cultural and Environment Heritage Ministry)||“Grotta del Gelo” Microclimate and ice mass monitoring. The “Grotta del Gelo” is probably the most famous volcanic cave of Etna due to the presence of perennial ice inside it, which is unusual for this latitude and in strong contrast with the arid environment of the surrounding lava field. The increase in visitors has raised concerns regarding the effects of human presence on the conservation of the glacial mass. A specific agreement was signed with the Centro Speleologico Etneo for the better management of this tourism in accordance with the IUCN recommendations and as foreseen by the Management Plan from the Triennial Park Program. The publication reports the results of the most extensive and detailed monitoring carried out so far on the evolution of the glacial mass present within the Grotta del Gelo. This will allow further understanding of the necessary interventions to preserve this small but significant glacier, a true jewel in the Mt Etna Park.||
|10||Ente Parco Etna/LIPU||Presence of the golden eagle in Etna Park- Monitoring. The “Aquila chrysaetus” is at the top of the food chain. In environments such as those of the Park, where large carnivores have been extinct for centuries, this species has assumed the role of apex-predator, and therefore plays a fundamental role in maintaining the balance of biocoenosis. In fact, the eagle performs an important regulatory action in the population dynamics of the ecosystem. With a special Convention, the Etna Park Authority entrusted LIPU with the task of monitoring, for the 2018-2019 breeding seasons, the presence of the golden eagle in the territory of Etna Park. Additionally, this enabled determining the reproduction rate of the species, which constitutes an important environmental indicator.||
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CBS News. (2019). Mount Etna erupts in Italy, sending ash and lava into the sky. 1 June, [online] CBS News, San Francisco. Available at: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/mount-etna-erupts-in-italy-sen… (Accessed 15 August 2019).
Falsaperla, S., Neri, M., Di Grazia, G., Langer, H., & Spampinato, S. (2018). Radon Tells Unexpected Tales of Mount Etna’s Unrest. Eos.
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Polacci, M., Andronico, D., de'Michieli Vitturi, M., Taddeucci, J., & Cristaldi, A. (2019). Mechanisms of ash generation at basaltic volcanoes: the case of Mount Etna, Italy. Frontiers in Earth Science, 7, 193.
Salem, L. C., Edmonds, M., Corsaro, R. A., & Maclennan, J. (2019). Carbon dioxide in geochemically heterogeneous melt inclusions from Mount Etna, Italy. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 20, pp.3150-3169.
State Party of Italy. (2012). Nomination of Mount Etna as a World Heritage Site. [online] Available at: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1427/documents/ (Accessed 17 August 2020).
Volcano Discovery. (2019). Etna volcano updates and eruptions news. [online] Available at: https://www.volcanodiscovery.com/etna/news.html (Accessed 15 August 2019).
World Heritage Committee (2013). Decision: 37 COM 8B.15. Mount Etna Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (Italy). In: Decisions Adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th Session (Phnom Penh, 2013). [online] Available at: <http://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/5131> [Accessed 16 September 2020].