Large-scale land use agreements in Portugal have proved to be very difficult to achieve, as the average size of rural properties is well under two hectares. Often, land is distributed among several owners, making the task of contacting them very difficult and time-consuming. In addition, some studies state that there are two million hectares of land in Portugal where landowners are not identified.
ATN, Rewilding Europe’s partner in Portugal has approached the issue by cooperating with hunters’ associations instead. In areas along the Côa River valley, where agriculture has ceased to exist and there are only a few shepherds left, hunters are the only ones with real influence on the territory.
The idea is to place the no-hunting area (set as a percentage of the hunting ground by law) in the border with the other hunting areas, thus creating one large no hunting area. This allows wildlife to move and spread around and at the same time creates a flow of game species to the hunting areas. And all this is achieved without the hunters having to decrease the number of hectares where they now hunt.
“We started small, inside and around Faia Brava, but with the goal is to expand as much as possible,” says João Quadrado, our rewilding officer in Portugal. “With this we want to allow wildlife to expand and move along a no hunting corridor.”