Rhodope Mountains

Vision details

Natural processes

The grazing and browsing effect from increased herds and diversity of large wild herbivores is keeping the landscape more open and there is less bush overgrowth and consequently less risk for disastrous bush fires. This stimulates the return of endangered species like the souslik, the marbled polecat and the Imperial eagle.

A healthy wolf population manages the densities and distribution of the herbivores in a more natural way and creates better opportunities for healthy populations of black, griffon and Egyptian vultures.

The management plans of the large existing Natura 2000 have been worked on together with Rewilding Europe to include strong rewilding measures, letting natural processes govern the management to a much greater extent than before.

By 2024, a more supportive legal framework is in place that better allows for further tangible rewilding actions, like legally accepting the wild horse, the bison and the aurochs as wild native species, allowing for no-take and wildlife comeback areas, and allowing for non-fed wildlife populations.

Wildlife

The whole area has much stronger populations of its original native wildlife species, boosted by reintroductions and re-stockings when considered necessary. The main wildlife attractions are the black, griffon and Egyptian vultures, fallow deer, wild horse, European bison, red deer, wolf, bear, Balkan chamois and souslik, as well as a number of rare south European birds. The wolf is being seen as a normal and accepted inhabitant of the area. The European bison, the Balkan chamois, the black vulture and the bearded vulture have all been successfully reintroduced to the region and the bear has begun to come back.

Local economic development

By 2024 the increased wildlife numbers and the reintroduced native species are providing a basis for a unique and varied tourism offer, firmly built on these assets. The Rhodope Mountains has become one of the best places in Europe for watching raptors and large herbivores, at close distance. In addition to that, local businesses and regional products are benefiting from the rewilding activities and provide incentives for entrepreneurs to invest in the area, thereby contributing to the uniqueness and attractiveness of it.

Protection

All new major infrastructure projects (like windmills, power lines, or dam constructions) will be held away from the area, to preserve the wild integrity of the landscape and to secure its connectivity with other areas.

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