The sport for purpose championship makes its third appearance in Sardinia for the Island X Prix this week, co-organised by the Automobile Club d'Italia and Regione Sardegna.
This time, its legacy initiative will focus on supporting the planting of a half-hectare area with nectar-rich plants, shrubs and trees to create a forest to support bees – the first of its kind in Sardinia.
It is becoming more prevalent that Sardinia and many other environments are increasingly susceptible to rising temperatures, heatwaves, and wildfires. Severe wildfires hit the island in 2021, with the initial blazes impacting more than 20,000 hectares in central Sardinia.
Much of Sardinia’s wildlife is at threat of extinction. In many cases, species are not able to relocate if conditions change dramatically, as was the case with the wildfires in 2021. This is best evidenced by the role of pollinators and how climate change impacts them - 30 million bees were lost in the Sardinia wildfires.
Professor Lucy Woodall from Extreme E’s Scientific Committee said: “The legacy projects of Extreme E have been addressing the consequences of climate change. Now returning to Sardinia for Season 3, we continue to do this, and having our drivers come to these legacy projects is so important for spreading important messages – in this case the direct impacts of climate change and forest fires on pollinators.
“Pollinators globally are on the decrease and our support of the planting of nectar-rich flora we’re giving bees on the island the best chance of surviving to the next generation.”
The all-electric off-road racing series has embarked on this latest project in collaboration once more with the MEDSEA (Mediterranean Sea and Coast) Foundation, whose research aims to protect and provide sustainable management of the marine and coastal resources of Sardinia and the Mediterranean Sea.
Just ahead of Extreme E’s fifth and sixth rounds of the 2023 season, Extreme E drivers and personnel lent a hand to get the Sardinian project underway and learn more about the importance of bees and their preservation.
Amanda Sorensen, No.99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing, said: “It was such a cool experience to see how the bees help our ecosystems. I think they’re super underestimated when it comes to what they do for the environment and the pollenating process.
“We were doing some honey testing, which was interesting because I didn’t realise that there are so many different varieties of honey. We also saw inside the bee hives and learnt about the different roles for bees within the community and saw all the parts that go into the making of honey.”
As well as the launch of the forest for bees, Extreme E’s already established initiatives in Sardinia are ongoing. The championship will be returning to the wildfire sites to learn about the success of the early warning sensors it introduced in the region alongside Vodafone Business last year.
The series will also review its legacy programmes in the region which focus on blue and green carbon stores, such as the restoration of areas hit by wildfires and replenishing seagrass beds of Posidonia oceanica in the waters of the Marine Protected Areas around Sardinia.
Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky, Rosberg X Racing, said: “Last December, RXR joined forces with Extreme E, Allianz, Life Terra, and the MEDSEA Foundation to restore over four hectares of soil, and as the fire season concludes at the end of October, we will be in the position to proceed with the plantation of 4,000 trees across the entire regenerated surface. We are proud to be back in the area to witness the progress made and continue our commitment to environmental sustainability.”
The racing action, and further details about the Legacy Programme in Sardinia, can be viewed on ITV in the UK across the weekend. Outside of the UK, please visit here for broadcaster details.