Rewilding Europe

Flying start Eastern Carpathians and Western Iberia

With contracts issued in July to October, the field work begun in the Danube Delta, Eastern Carpathians and Western Iberia. Already after a few weeks, the project executants have now reported on some significant achievements. In this news item, developments in Eastern Carpathians and Western Iberia are featured.
For Campanarios de Azaba in Western Spain, the necessary permission for re-introduction of wild cattle, horses and red deer and initial fencing were either obtained or in the process of being approved. An agreement was reached with the project advisor - Taurus Foundation – to introduce the Przewalski’s Horse in the Côa Valley (Faia Brava) and Retuerta horses from Coto Doñana to Campanarios. DNA research of the Retuerta Horse has proven the uniqueness of the breed as an authentic Spanish wild horse. A small Portuguese breeding centre has offered to provide the Przewalski’s horses for free. For the bovines, Sayaguesa, aurochs-like cattle from the Salamanca region together with the Maremma breed from Italy and big, crossbred animals from the Netherlands will be used to re-create the Aurochs.
The wolf is ‘knocking on the door’ with recent findings of wild animals just a few kilometres away from both Faia Brava and Campanarios de Azaba, and the projects are starting to prepare for the natural comeback of the species by sensitizing the local communities. Work has also begun for building local support for rewilding through discussions with private land owners, municipalities, hunting associations, and local entrepreneurs. 
In Portugal, local partner ATN met with the State Secretary for Forests. The work of ATN and the rewilding approach is seen as very promising and forward-looking. Two aspects in particular triggered this positive feedback: the use of wild herbivores for reducing the impact of wild fires, and the opportunities of increasing the value of land by building up the wildlife capital.
In Campanarios de Azaba, the work of creating a ‘rewilding information centre’ made progress. This new centre will also provide guest house and meeting facilities. FNYH also hosted a UNESCO/IUCN fact finding mission relating to a proposal for a new World Heritage Site, and the interest was generated for considering the whole of Western Iberia as new area.
In Eastern Carpathians, which only started in mid-October, a new local NGO was formed in Poland – The Carpathian Nature Foundation – to serve as the implementing arm in the Bieszczady region. The project of a new film “Rewilding the Wolf Mountains” started with the agreement of the main story line, messaging, etc. The aspect of rewilding will be featured in relation to new opportunities for local development, and the European Bison and Wolf and their relationship to people will be used as flagship species. Through a public opinion poll, work also begun to assess the local support in Slovakia and Poland for the ideas of rewilding.
In Slovakia, the Wolf NGO was very active in influencing the development of a new Act for Nature Conservation. The draft act, ready for presentation to the Parliament in February 2012, includes new a radical proposals to change the future management of national parks, setting aside more strictly protected areas, etc. The goal is to have the new act approved before the new elections in March next year.  

With contracts issued in July to October, the field work begun in the Danube Delta, Eastern Carpathians and Western Iberia. Already after a few weeks, the project executants have now reported on some significant achievements. In this news item, developments in Eastern Carpathians and Western Iberia are featured.

Western Iberia
For Campanarios de Azaba in Western Spain, the necessary permission for re-introduction of wild cattle, horses and red deer and initial fencing were either obtained or in the process of being approved. An agreement was reached with the project advisor - Taurus Foundation – to introduce the Przewalski’s Horse in the Côa Valley (Faia Brava) and Retuerta horses from Coto Doñana to Campanarios. DNA research of the Retuerta horse has proven the uniqueness of the breed as an authentic Spanish wild horse.

A small Portuguese breeding centre has offered to provide the Przewalski’s horses for free. For the bovines, Sayaguesa, aurochs-like cattle from the Salamanca region together with the Maremma breed from Italy and big, crossbred animals from the Netherlands will be used to re-create the Aurochs.

The wolf is ‘knocking on the door’ with recent findings of wild animals just a few kilometres away from both Faia Brava and Campanarios de Azaba, and the projects are starting to prepare for the natural comeback of the species by sensitizing the local communities. Work has also begun for building local support for rewilding through discussions with private land owners, municipalities, hunting associations, and local entrepreneurs. 

In Portugal, local partner ATN met with the State Secretary for Forests. The work of ATN and the rewilding approach is seen as very promising and forward-looking. Two aspects in particular triggered this positive feedback: the use of wild herbivores for reducing the impact of wild fires, and the opportunities of increasing the value of land by building up the wildlife capital.

In Campanarios de Azaba, the work of creating a ‘rewilding information centre’ made progress. This new centre will also provide guest house and meeting facilities. FNYH also hosted a UNESCO/IUCN fact finding mission relating to a proposal for a new World Heritage Site, and the interest was generated for considering the whole of Western Iberia as new area.

Eastern Carpathians
In Eastern Carpathians, which only started in mid-October, a new local NGO was formed in Poland – The Carpathian Nature Foundation – to serve as the implementing arm in the Bieszczady region. The project of a new film “Rewilding the Wolf Mountains” started with the agreement of the main story line and messaging. The aspect of rewilding will be featured in relation to new opportunities for local development, and the European bison and wolf and their relationship to people will be used as flagship species. Through a public opinion poll, work also begun to assess the local support in Slovakia and Poland for the ideas of rewilding.

In Slovakia, our local partner Wolf NGO, has been very active in influencing the development of a new Act for Nature Conservation. The draft act, ready for presentation to the Parliament in February 2012, includes new and radical proposals to change the future management of national parks, setting aside more strictly protected areas. The goal is to have the new act approved before the new elections in March next year.

17 November 2011

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