Protected island: yes Marine protection status: Marine Protected Area (MPA) of Tavolara Punta Coda Cavallo, Special Protection Zone (SPZ)
Tavolara is a Sardinian island known for its beautiful limestone cliffs, unique in Europe. This 6 km long island is located in the Gulf of Olbia, less than 2 nautical miles from the coast in the North East of Sardinia. To the south of the island is the island of Molara.
90% of its territory is natural and wild. There are less than 100 inhabitants, who live mainly from tourism.
In the 19th century, the King of Sardinia is said to have made Tavolara a kingdom, designating the sole inhabitant of the island as king. Even today, his descendants of “royal” lineage own part of Tavolara. The island is part of the Marine Protected Area of Tavolara Punta Coda Cavallo.
The island of Tavolara is of sedimentary origin and mainly composed of limestone. It rises to 565 m high. The central part of the island consists of white cliffs for which it is famous. It has two peninsulas: one in the northeast, 900 m long, and one in the south-west, 800 m, relatively flat and endowed with large beaches.
It is said that in 1836 King Charles Albert of Sardinia gave the island to the shepherd Giuseppe Bertolenoni and proclaimed him king. This island thus became the smallest kingdom in the world. Tavolara remained a kingdom until 1934. Today the descendants of this royal family are the only ones with private property on the island and the license to operate restaurants there.
In 1962, NATO set up a radio station in Tavolara, and almost the entire population left the island.
The island lives mainly from tourism. There are two restaurants there, run by the descendants of the Tavolara royal family.
The main natural feature of Tavolara Island is landscape: it is the large limestone cliffs of more than 500m unique in the Mediterranean. These cliffs are home to endemic flora such as Asperula deficiens, Petrarch’s doradilla (Asplenium petrarchae subsp. Petrarchae) and a species of scrubland (Centaurea horrida).
There are also some endangered seabird species in Tavolara such as the gray shearwater (Calonectris diomedea), common tern (Sterna Hirundo), Audouin’s gull (Larus audouinii). It is also important to note the major presence of Mediterranean Shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan) on the western part of the island and of the Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos).
The marine territories surrounding the island are mainly made up of Posidonia meadows and marine phanerogams.
Several projects are currently underway, led by the very active manager of the island, chaired by a consortium, which aims to preserve the heritage of the island.
As part of the ISOS project, managers have chosen a “zero impact” approach; with numerous actions in energy management, the creation of a selective sorting point for waste accompanied by multiple awareness campaigns.
In order to make the best use of the photovoltaic panels already installed on the island, it is planned to build an electrical network to connect them, and to add a micro wind turbine to improve the independence of the island in terms of energy. .
Heritage issues are not overlooked, the old kilns, now in ruins, are the subject of a restoration and enhancement project, with the addition of a trail.