| Posted on 30/05/2014 - 21:51|
The battle to save Europe’s last coastal dune habitats has been left in the pre-internet age. Social Sands will bring the battle online, using social media, crowdpower and smart online marketing.
Hundreds of kilometres of designated Mediterranean sand dunes and natural habitats on the coast of Italy between Tuscany and Naples are losing the battle to encroaching summer resorts, car parks, traffic, noise and human erosion of the dunes and their flora. The environmental agencies and volunteers, with their limited means, pencils and notepads, are no match for the throngs of property developers, resort managers and beach goers. But natural healthy dunes and happy sunbathers and business people are not incompatible. There is plenty of space for dunes and people. They just need to get to know each other, see the benefits of coexistence and take some low cost but high impact measures to make it come about.
Social Sands brings the battle to save the dunes online. Dunes will enter our cyberspace: If you use the beaches and you like online social apps and interaction then Social Sands is going to find you and help you learn to know, love and defend them. The app will monitor a loyalty programme between beach goers and resort managers. Resorts that defend the dunes get the business. Internet users will know when they enter the dunes and how to recognise if they are cared for. They can geo-navigate the habitat, view the defence and restoration projects and tag and comment points of interest. Dune recovery projects initiated by businesses and users will be tracked, rated and rewarded online. Annual online campaigns will award resorts with physical plaques and local recognition.
Target group and social impact
Social Sands targets beach goers, businesses, builders, policy makers, educators and public authorities. All of them will have a role in the Social Sands app and process. As well as the app and website, the project will use plenty of plain and simple Google, Facebook and other online marketing to get people involved. There is background awareness of the dunes in the minds of this target group and a pent up desire to know more and to know how to help. Social Sands will provide the solution. It's not rocket science, but it's never been done for dunes. The entire process will be done in Italian and English and the approach can be transferred to hundreds more similar areas in Europe. It will be example to follow for any environmental protection group entering the internet age.
Competences of the applicant
Maria Gabriella runs the Rome coastal section of the World Wildlife Fund and has been defending the dunes for many years. She will use the expert (and ethical!) web services and marketing team of ETC Ware, the influence of WWF Italy, plus her huge network of supporters to get it off the ground. See http://wwflitoraleromano.wordpress.com/
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