How Oasy Hotel Is Regenerating Italian Woodlands with WWF Through Social Impact and Agriculture

Oasy Hotel is nestled in Pistoia, an Italian province home to the San Marcello Piteglio municipality and situated between Tuscany’s capital, Florence, and Bologna, Lucca and the city of Pistoia. Thriving with rich histories, Renaissance architecture, art and iconic cuisines, the region is well known and well visited by tourists drawn to its lively culture. At its heart, however, beats Oasi Dynamo – an expanse of incredible wildlife and biodiversity, stretching over more than 900 hectares of Apennine Mountains, meadows and woodland.

The territory used to be a hunting reserve, before the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Italia led a project in 2006 to recover and transform the land into the protected oasis we see today. The Oasi Dynamo is now managed by Oasi Dynamo Società Agricola, an agricultural enterprise dedicated to researching and caring for the area’s biodiversity. The group revived agricultural and forestry traditions previously used in the 20th century, innovated as part of an integrated supply chain project, before going on to introduce regenerative tourism not just to the region, but to Italian tourism itself with the 2015 opening of Oasy Hotel.

The hotel offers guests an exclusive experience of Tuscany as never experienced before, harmoniously balanced on the nexus between conservation, environmental management, tourism and social and educational projects. Oasy Hotel works with the Dynamo Academy, a project founded in 2007, and Dynamo Camp providing Italy’s first recreational therapy camp for youth and their family living with serious and chronic diseases. The academy was created by the local Dynamo Foundation, a unique nonprofit established in 2003 with the philosophy to connect nonprofit and profit models through ‘venture philanthropy’. Oasy Hotel is a passion project born out of a love for nature and the belief that luxury exists within it, evident in the Oasi way of life which guests have the extraordinary opportunity to immerse themselves in.

Andre Manes of Oasy Hotel talks with us about local conservation, the hotel’s philosophy, and the fascinating history of the land.

What was the philosophy that inspired Oasy Hotel and how did the concept come to fruition?

The concept of having accommodation inside WWF Natural Reserves came a few years back, and the first Eco-lodges were built at WWF Oasi Dynamo in 2018. This pandemic period convinced us, more than ever, that our philosophy of offering to live nature in an authentic journey, is the most needed experience of detox and regeneration that people are looking for.

What is the history of the area and the value of a WWF affiliated nature reserve?

What Oasy Hotel is today derives from an incredible work which began in 1939, after the 1000 hectares were purchased by SMI (Italian Metallurgical Society) leading to the construction of roads, buildings and the planting of forests with a view to the future farm that was developed to guarantee a minimum of self- support to local communities.

This enormous land reclamation work had a hugely important social function in a period of deep economic difficulty, off the back of the Second World War. In fact, in addition to the use of a great deal of local workforce, food products were brought to the company outlets and to the refectories of the SMI establishments, supporting thousands of families.

The Oasi today represents one of the few Apennine areas where traditional forms of agricultural, breeding and management of the territory are still implemented. 

The owners of the land involved WWF to make it become, in 2005 a WWF affiliated Oasis. One of the major values of this partnership is that we follow the experiences guidelines and programs of environmental sustainability that WWF promotes and manages.

Tell us about some of the local conservation projects you’ve contributed to and their impact.

All production companies are “emitters” of greenhouse gases, even simply through the consumption of energy. They can reduce the environmental impact resulting from their activity by promoting the absorption of CO2 and the storage of carbon: in this case we speak of “mitigation” or “offsetting”.

In the event that mitigation is achieved through the protection or recovery of woods and forests, in addition to the absorption of carbon, there can be further positive consequences such as soil protection, better water quality, spaces for recreational use, and enrichment of the landscape.

In partnership with WWF, Oasi Dynamo is trying to develop a project aimed to create a “forest fund” used for the active protection of Italian woodlands. In particular, supporting the conservation management (forest management) by private individuals (companies or associations). Further aims include acquiring new forest areas (purchase of land or purchase of cutting rights), avoiding new uses (avoided deforestation), and contributing to reforestation / reforestation projects.

The first pilot project starts with KME Italy, owner of Oasi Dynamo which, with a view to corporate environmental responsibility, is interested in reaching an agreement with the Oasis to contribute economically to the conservation and enhancement of the “Oasi Dynamo” area through the C02 production compensation.

Over several years, the property has been engaged in a research project focused on the Little Shrike birds, a species of conservation interest whose presence at domestic and international level is in sharp decline.

In particular, the project intends not only to study the population present inside the Oasi but also to recreate those fundamental environments for the survival of this species which unfortunately are disappearing due to intensive farming processes which dramatically reduces the presence of this little bird.

In addition, the Oasi represents one of the few Apennine areas where traditional forms of agricultural management of the territory are still implemented. Traditional local cultures have been reintroduced according to a model of organic, sustainable, and non-intensive agriculture, with the aim of improving the defense of present biodiversity and at the same time, promoting coexistence with the maintenance and development of organic and bio- agriculture.

Tell us about your participation in PIF, and why is it important?

Oasi Dynamo promotes the Social Valley project which has seen the creation of a district dedicated to the development of solutions, services, and technologies for the well-being of individuals and communities. The Oasi has become an attractive destination as the whole territory is liveable and offers quality products and services to residents and visitors.

We also participated as a leader in a PIF (integrated supply chain project) with which we activated measures for the enhancement of traditional and innovative products of the Pistoia Mountains. In particular, the experiments involved small fruits and varieties of ancient grains.

Can you share more about the gastronomic experiences you offer?

Inside the Oasi, we have two restaurants and a bar. Near the lodges we converted an old, fascinating stone-house into a fine dining restaurant. In keeping with the countryside atmosphere, guests can enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The kitchen works to the highest standards of hygiene and efficiency and can accommodate up to 60 guests. The second restaurant, which is more casual, is located near the farm in an open area, beneath a pergola, surrounded by nature and horses. This restaurant can accommodate up to 100 guests.

In both restaurants, guests will experience organic food coming directly from local farmers; vegetables, fruits, cheese, meat, bread, cakes, wine… They will also drink Dynamo Water, the most alkaline in Italy. Food and services meet the international standards of food & beverage management.

During their stay, guests can enjoy farming, by producing cheese and ricotta, but also by picking our fruits and vegetables, learning how to produce jam and honey.

We are proud to offer our guests a wide range of Oasi Dynamo-branded food products. We sell biscuits, herbal teas, fruit juices, pasta, meat and cheeses from our farms and fruits from our crops (strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries). We also have a shop dedicated to Dynamo, called The Good Company, offering clothes and merchandising which can be found both on the high-street and also online. The same is true of our water.

Can you tell us about some of the Dynamo Foundation projects you’re involved in?

Social responsibility, more than an impact. Getting to know Oasi Dynamo means becoming bearers of the history of Dynamo and the realities belonging to the Foundation. In fact, the mission of the Dynamo Foundation is to support the design and development of business organizations that address social problems such as education, health, social services and the environment, also promoting new employment.

Among the main projects, in addition to Oasi Dynamo, there is Dynamo Camp – the first Recreational Therapy camp in Italy, hosting children and teenagers suffering from serious or chronic diseases and their families free of charge, for holidays and fun with qualified assistance.

Dynamo Academy srl Social enterprise has been offering companies a personalized approach to corporate philanthropy since 2010, through experiential programs, consultancy and training, aimed at promoting and spreading the contribution of the corporate world to the Common Good (Business for the Common Good), in the context special of the Campus of Limestre and off camp. Since 2016 it has been the only partner of CECP’s Global Exchange in Italy. 

Dynamo The Good Company Born to create the Camp uniforms, Dynamo TGC produces and markets clothing with the aim of donating 100% of the profits to the social projects of the Dynamo Foundation. The inspiration came from Newman’s Own – a for-benefit company set up by actor Paul Newman, who over the years has allocated over $535 million to philanthropic initiatives. Dynamo TGC promotes a business model that is committed to the common good, because changing the future for the better is everyone’s responsibility.

What do you hope for the future of regenerative tourism in Italy?

To reach people who are genuinely interested in environmental issues, excited to have an experience immersed in nature, aware of the contribution it makes to the conservation of the environment in which it is located. To reach visitors who approach this kind of experience for the first time, to increase their awareness of the fragility of ecosystems. To reach a public sensitive to the high cultural value that the Oasi offers. To reach an audience interested in the Mediterranean flora and fauna of the Apennines.

The growing interest we see in people visiting the Oasi, indicates that our efforts in offering unique experiences, sustainability, and nature exploration, is going very much in the right direction.

Schedule a complimentary travel consultation with Regenerative Travel here to learn more about a trip to Oasy Hotel to experience the wild west with our travel design team.

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