The islands of Panarea and Alicudi are designated as nature reserves, and collection of the silene vellutata delle Eolie is strictly forbidden in both locations (1) (3). The Aeolian Islands are also designated as a World Heritage Site, which may offer this species some protection (7). The silene vellutata delle Eolie is listed as a priority species on Annexes II and IV of the EU Habitats Directive, which covers species requiring the designation of special areas of conservation as well as those needing strict protection (8).
A number of conservation measures have been undertaken for this rare island plant. An ‘EU LIFE’ project that began in 1999 aimed to conserve four endangered plant species in the Aeolian Islands, including the silene vellutata delle Eolie. The project has included a number of actions for this species, such as improving knowledge of its biology, producing plants in cultivation to reinforce the wild population, and raising awareness of its plight among decision makers and the general public (1) (3) (5).
In addition to these measures, the seeds of the silene vellutata delle Eolie are being collected to be grown as part of a project involving a network of Mediterranean seed banks (1) (3). Studies are also underway into the genetic structure of this species’ populations, to provide information that will aid in its management (6).
The silene vellutata delle Eolie is part of an IUCN ‘Top 50’ plants campaign to highlight the Top 50 Mediterranean Island plants. Led by the Mediterranean Island Plant Specialist Group, this campaign aimed to provide information and raise awareness to help save plant species at high risk of extinction (3). Further conservation measures recommended for this threatened plant include eliminating populations of the invasive tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima), and carrying on the conservation initiatives that were started by the EU LIFE project (1) (3).