An Italian environmental group is seeking crowdfunding to purchase the sand dunes in southern Sardinia in order, they say, to protect them from unscrupulous developers.
“The dunes and the beach are in danger,” warns the Legal Intervention Group (GRIG), a Cagliari-based association that takes environmental causes to court.
Unusually for Italy, where most coastline is public property, the dunes in Chia bay on Sardinia's far south-western tip are privately owned. The current owner inherited the land and, according to the GRIG, has had interest from foreign investors.
While the beachfront land would be a rare prize for developers, who the GRIG says are already “snapping up land” elsewhere on the island, the association says it wants to buy the dunes to keep them protected, free and open to all.
Conservationists say that developers have already been permitted to build too close to Chia's beaches. Photo: DepositPhotos
The group says it this week signed a preliminary agreement with the owner to purchase four hectares of coastal land, stretching from the dunes almost to the sea, for the sum of €100,000. Now all it needs to do is find the money – which is where the public comes in.
The GRIG is asking for donations to help cover the costs of the purchase. It has already put down a deposit, but is hoping to collect enough from the public to cover the rest of the asking price.
“It's a gift to our children and grandchildren,” GRIG spokesperson Stefano Deliperi told Ansa. “We did it to protect our environment and our identity: we didn't want to find ourselves prevented from enjoying our natural treasures or perhaps relegated to an enclosure, as is the case in other parts of Sardinia.”
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Details of how to contribute are on the GRIG website.
It's not the first time the public has been called upon to help save Sardinia's heritage: in 2013 there was outcry when the tiny island of Budelli, part of Sardinia's La Maddalena archipelago, after it was sold to a millionaire businessman from New Zealand. The sale met with petitions, protests and a crowdfunding campaign launched by schoolchildren from the north of Italy to buy Budelli back.
The Italian state eventually declared it part of a national park, and it remains protected property to this day.
Photo: Daniel Slim/AFP