frontline conservation

Starting from year 2000 I quit the research career in order to focus on frontline nature conservation in developing countries through international aid.

From that year up to 2011 I have been stationed in Palmyra in the middle of the Syrian desert. During the first 4 years I acted as wildlife expert under a UN/FAO development project aimed at establishing the first natural protected areas in the country. In these early years I fell in love with Syria, its people, nature and landscapes.

Following this full-immersion work in 2002 I discover a very rare species of bird, the Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita), oriental population, regarded as extinct from Syria more than 70 years before and from the whole Near East 13 years before (listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List). The last handful of living descendants of ibises depicted in 4500 year old Egyptian hieroglyphs.

From that year on I devote and commit myself to the mission to save this relict colony from extinction, engaging in a long-term extenuating adventure, that I attempted to tell in the non-fiction literary reportage “Salam Has Returned” (published in Italy in November 2016, Exorma, Rome). A scientific and photographic report, titled “The Last Flight”, documents this same conservation saga from a different angle.

Thanks to this work I began to gradually specialize in the conservation of endangered species, in the establishment and management of natural protected areas and in the collection and decoding of the Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) from indigenous communities. I also gained experience in training government staff and members of local communities and in negotiating conservation measures with them.

Forced to leave my second home, Palmyra, due to the onset of the war in 2011, I move with my newly formed family to Samoa, Polynesia, recruited by the Pacific Environment Programme (SPREP).

In Samoa, after coordinating and managing two regional conservation UN/UNEP/GEF projects for 3.5 years on behalf of SPREP, finally I manage to focus on my real interests: the conservation of endangered species through TEK in the field.

From 2014 on I get interested in the fascinating Manumea, an endemic bird species of Samoa, the only surviving relative of the iconic Dodo, the symbol of oceanic extinctions - a species, Manumea, listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List.

I keep working on the conservation of Manumea in Samoa up to late 2017 when I move back to Italy with my family. Since then I keep cooperating in the same field (from remotely and through short-term missions) with the Samoan Conservation Society and the Samoan Ministry of Environment - while at same time I am recruited as consultant by UN/UNDP/GEF projects to prepare management plans of protected areas in Samoa (rainforests) and in the Caribbean (marine).