The Dutch rewilding area ‘Gelderse Poort’ is the first member of the European Rewilding Network, the newest initiative of Rewilding Europe aiming to connect and unite rewilding initiatives and activities all over Europe.
On 8 September, Frans Schepers, Managing Director of Rewilding Europe handed over the ERN Membership Certificate to Mr Piet Winterman, Regional Director of the Dutch State Forestry Department at the official celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Millingerwaard, a pioneer area in this Dutch rewilding initiative and part of the Gelderse Poort.
‘Gelderse Poort and therefore, Millingerwaard are frontrunners in rewilding. Many other countries can learn here how we can deal with allowing wild nature to come back to our river systems’, Frans Schepers said. During the celebration, attended by hundreds of people, an Osprey flew over, while a little further a Black stork was foraging in an old riverbed.
The area is characterized by its great biodiversity: a myriad of species of plants, birds, mammals, fish, insects, and other creatures great and small that all depend on the river dynamics and natural habitats that spontaneously developed here. In the Gelderse Poort, the visitors can come across free-roaming herds of Galloways and Konik horses that graze the river floodplains year-round and create a mosaic landscape. Typical animals that live here, or were re-introduced to the Gelderse Poort are the Beaver, Badger, Black tern, Bluethroat, Skylark and Corncrake. Species like Osprey and Black stork are regularly seen. During winter, more than 150,000 Arctic geese come over to stay here.
Millingerwaard has become a popular excursion area visited by thousands of nature lovers, and it has created a lot of local enterprise development. The total area of the river foreland covers nearly seven hundred hectares, about three hundred hectares have been transformed into a nature area owned by various parties such as Staatsbosbeheer (Dutch Forestry Department, who is the main owner and manager of the area), Delgromij (a clay extraction company) and De Beijer (brick factory) who have been developing the area in collaboration with ARK Nature since 1993.
Being a member of the European Rewilding Network, Gelderse Poort will have the great opportunity to share its rewilding expertise and experience with other European rewilding initiatives. The officially launch the European Rewilding Network is planned during WILD10 (4-10 October 2013) in Salamanca, Spain.