Sicily’s Indigenous Cyber Tracker

Collettivo Rewild Sicily (IT), CyberTracker Italia (IT), Sicily Environment Fund (IT), Astrid Natura (IT)

In recent years, indigenous knowledge has become a powerful tool for nature conservation, rewilding, and habitat restoration. However, traditional "top-down" conservation methods often exclude local communities, leading to unmet conservation goals. Recognizing the vital role of indigenous knowledge and people, termed by UNEP as the "unsung heroes of conservation," is essential.

Europe presents a unique context, shaped by millennia of cultivation, infrastructure development, and wildlife depletion. Sicily, the Mediterranean's largest island, faces "cultural desertification." The key question here is: what constitutes indigenous knowledge, and who are its custodians?

Our project identifies Sicily's local custodians: hunters, shepherds, and forestry workers. These individuals, deeply connected to the land and its traditions, are often marginalized but hold valuable ecological knowledge crucial for conservation.

We integrate these "Sicily's Indigenous CyberTrackers" by tracking wildlife, signs of fire, and human activity, feeding this data into the CyberTracker app. This approach gathers essential data and bridges the gap between custodians and conservation efforts.

The impact is twofold. First, the collected data creates a robust database to inform and influence policy. Second, the initiated dialogue forms a cohesive community. So far, we have engaged local custodians in field activities, developed a customized CyberTracker app, co-created educational materials, and a short documentary. An advocacy workshop was hosted to integrate local ecological knowledge into broader land management policies.

Looking ahead, we plan to expand our community, conduct more site visits across Sicily, and explore new business models combining the expertise of nature guides with local hunters and shepherds. By continuing to collect data and enrich our database, we aim to professionalize tracking and valorize indigenous knowledge, making it a cornerstone of effective conservation efforts.

IMPETUS has supported this project. IMPETUS is funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme.

The project joint efforts together with another one “Rewilding Guide Training” financed by Sicily Environment Fund.


Photography credits by Mathia Coco.

Trainers: Georg Messerer (DE) and Toni Romani (IT)

all the participants to the in field training and workshop (IT)

Collettivo Rewild Sicily (IT) is a local non-profit dedicated to rewilding actions in Sicily co-founded by Hanna Rasper, Luisa Sausa, Salvatore Bondì and Enrico Guzzo.

Collettivo Rewild Sicily was born from a specific need: to make Sicily a greener, wilder, and a more conscious place.

We work on small projects that are meant to be practical, easily repeatable and regenerate small local communities and their love for the land they live in. We act to build a better world, simple and in small steps. We think globally and act locally, on this magical island where every corner is a wonder.

We do this mainly by trying to decrease the human-wildlife conflict. Our tools are agroforestry, anti wildfire actions, regenerative grazing, and rewilding.

Exploring the biodiversity crisis, this project addresses Sicily’s potential for rewilding by creating an open, comprehensive wildlife database to stimulate a long-term ‘pro-rewilding’ culture among decision-makers in the region. Leveraging the CyberTracker tool, the project foregrounds otherwise marginalised indigenous knowledge by engaging hunters, shepherds, forestry services, and nature guides in collecting data on wildlife and land management. Through workshops, the project puts such local knowledge into dialogue with researchers, NGOs, and decision-makers, advocating for policy changes, establishing the Collettivo Rewild Sicily, and promoting inclusive, community-driven rewilding efforts in Sicily.