During December, representatives of the Rewilding Europe enterprise team have visited the Eastern Carpathians, Southern Carpathians and Western Iberia project sites. Enterprise development within Rewilding Europe remains at a very early planning stage, however some clear conservation business development and financing possibilities are emerging.
In the Eastern Carpathians, the project team are working on several tourism-related business ideas which aim to capitalise upon the fact that over 500,000 Poles visit the Bieszczady National Park every year, yet there are apparently few quality activities and facilities available for visitors. As the proposed rewilding sites are located adjacent to the Park, there is strong potential for development of innovative visitor facilities including a tourism hub which will offer visitor information, guided activities, a regular series of films and talks on nature, guided activities, a restaurant featuring local produce and a microbrewery. Plans are also underway to develop a “big sky” link from telescopes situated within the rewilding site which will broadcast night sky images to the Warsaw observatory, a highly popular visitor centre in the Polish capital. The initiatives are aimed not only at local economic benefit but also capturing the support and enthusiasm of the Polish public for the rewilding initiative in the Carpathians.
In the Slovakian part of the project area there are early ideas emerging for an ecosystem services linked business which will offer services to the Slovak water authority relating to the role which intact ecosystems in the mountainous valleys perform in keeping water free from siltation.
In the Southern Carpathians, the team is focusing upon raising awareness among the local communities, land owners and state forest divisions on the fundamental conservation objectives and future possibilities for enterprise development. Emerging possibilities include forest product businesses and wildlife experiences.
In Western Iberia the project team are considering business development also centred around nature and adventure tourism, with emerging possibilities for businesses based upon the gastronomy. Ideas include conservation branded pork and olive oil, being specialities of the area.
Work continues on the planning of one or more Rewilding Europe financing mechanisms and support for emerging local mechanisms, such as the possible creation of a green investment fund in the Eastern Carpathians which the project team are exploring in association with the Polish government.