The Central Apennines rewilding area in Italy will see Rewilding Europe and Rewilding Apennines work together in a new set up to develop this area as a prime example of European rewilding. One of the first steps is a cooperation with local NGO Salviamo l’Orso to help conserve and boost the critically endangered local population of Marsican brown bears.
Rewilding Europe is delighted to announce the relaunch of its rewilding initiative in the Central Apennines. Rewilding work here will focus on a range of essential actions on rewilding, wildlife comeback and building a nature-based economy. To conserve and support the area’s population of Marsican brown bears, Rewilding Apennines will work with a new partner – the Italian NGO Salviamo l’Orso (Let’s Save the Bear).
The Rewilding Europe supervisory board visited the Central Apennines rewilding area on the weekend of June 16 and 17 to mark and celebrate the relaunch with the new local partners.
“We are very excited to start working with the new and highly experienced team and board of Rewilding Apennines,” says Frans Schepers, Managing Director of Rewilding Europe. “The Marsican brown bear is the flagship species of this area and starting this partnership with Salviamo l’Orso is a significant new step in restarting our rewilding initiative here.”
Today the 50-strong endemic Marsican brown bear population of the Central Apennines stands on the brink of extinction. Bear-related conservation work, which focuses on protected areas, has so far ignored connectivity between them.
While the remaining bears are relatively safe inside the area’s national parks (mainly the Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise National Park), outside park boundaries they are at risk from poaching, poisoning and traffic collisions. There is also conflict with local people who experience problems related to apiaries, orchards and livestock.
Rewilding Apennines and Salviamo l’Orso will start to address these issues, including efforts to reach out to local communities, mitigate conflict and provide economic incentives to protect bears.
“Habitat connectivity is critical to the survival of Marsican bears,” says Mario Cipollone, Rewilding Apennines team leader and project leader of Salviamo l’Orso. “It is therefore vital that we raise the awareness and acceptance of bears amongst local communities. We need to show them that a live bear is far more beneficial than a dead one.”
Going forwards a first grant from the Adessium Foundation will enable Salviamo l’Orso to start securing livestock farms and apiaries through the distribution and construction of electric fences, as well as provide timely compensation for bear-related damage.
It will also allow the NGO to monitor the presence of bears and raise awareness of bear conservation amongst local communities. These actions will be carried out with the help of highly motivated volunteers.
The next essential step is to scale up this work by creating four key functioning corridors between protected areas. This is high on the agenda of Rewilding Apennines, but will require a far more substantial investment.