GTT launched the first project in collaboration with Parco Natura Viva (PNV) in 2014. The project, called Chelonia, was planned and curated by Theodora to raise awareness of the importance of local biodiversity, in this case, native species of tortoises and turtles.
This seemed to be the best way to show people that there are threatened and endangered species on our doorsteps. The four species of tortoises and one species of turtle that live in the Chelonia garden give great examples of how vital it is to preserve their natural habitats. Urbanisation and pollution have been two main causes of degradation to the species habitats in Italy.
The park participates in several international breeding programs for endangered species and works to raise awareness about the importance of biodiversity and conservation through its educational programs and exhibits.
PNV is actively involved in several international breeding programs for endangered species, including the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA). These programmes aim to conserve and breed endangered species in captivity to ensure the survival of these species in the wild. In addition to breeding programs, PNV also supports several conservation projects in the field, both in Italy and abroad and is committed to educating the public about the importance of biodiversity and conservation.
GTT ran Eco Friendly summer camps both at PNV and in Sussex for six years between 2014 and 2020. There were also regular workshops help at PNV throughout the time Theodora was at school. Theodora also volunteered once a week to help maintain the Chelonia garden, in all seasons!
In 2109, GTT members took part in a unique trip on board the Tethys research boat in the Ligurian Sea. The research trip gave us the opportunity to observe whales and dolphins in their natural environment and make a contribution towards their survival and conservation; more than whale watching in Italy.
The research trip in the north western Mediterranean, Italy, enabled us to learn about eight cetacean species, including fin whales, sperm whales and several dolphins. The study area within the Pelagos Sanctuary, is the world’s first High Seas protected area and hosts one of the highest concentrations of whales and dolphins in the Mediterranean. GTT members made their contribution to Citizen Science and learned a lot about research on this trip.
The expansion of the work with Chelonia, PNV and the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) began in 2017 with the first multilateral agreement to help support conservation of the Seychelles giant tortoise. The Seychelles giant tortoise is a species of tortoise that is endemic to the Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean. The species was once widespread throughout the Seychelles, but it suffered a severe decline in numbers due to overhunting, habitat loss, and the introduction of non-native predators. The species is also listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which regulates international trade in endangered species.
GTT helps the ongoing collaboration to support scientific efforts to monitor the tortoise populations to gather more information on their health during their life span. Data collected from the natural habitats of the Seychelles giant tortoises, can be compared with the ones in rehabilitation centres around the world. For example, at PNV, where the tortoises have been re-homed after being confiscated at customs. The project also involves the local communities with initiatives such as habitat restoration.
The SNPA plays an important role in the conservation of the Seychelles giant tortoise. SNPA manages several protected areas in the Seychelles, including national parks and reserves where the tortoise is found.
SNPA manages the Curieuse Marine National Park, which is home to a population of Seychelles giant tortoises. The park is located on the island of Curieuse and is an important nesting site for hawksbill turtles as well. SNPA works to protect the tortoise population on Curieuse through measures such as controlling non-native predators, monitoring population size, and managing visitor access to the park.