Nature-based business networks take off across Rewilding Europe landscapes

July 1, 2024

Helping nature heal can lead to prosperous local economies. Nature-based business networks are being developed in a growing number of our rewilding landscapes, enabling businesses and communities to benefit from nature recovery in a sustainable way. This, in turn, is generating more support for rewilding.

Rewilding can support the development of a wide range of nature-based businesses.
Neil Aldridge


The network effect

Today, nature-based business networks are a growing feature of Rewilding Europe’s expanding portfolio of rewilding landscapes. These bring businesses together under a shared rewilding vision for the landscape, facilitating the creation of new tourism packages, helping to close gaps in tourism experiences, and creating new economic opportunities. They mean local businesses and communities can enjoy direct economic benefits from the recovery of wild nature, which in turn generates more support for rewilding.

The most fully developed example of a rewilding landscape-based business network is the Wild Côa Network, which was established by the Rewilding Portugal team in the Greater Côa Valley in early 2021. It now has more than 50 members, who meet online once a month and in person once a year, with a recent survey demonstrating its beneficial impact. The Rewilding Portugal team have recently launched a Rewilder Card, which gives users access to unique discounts on both Rewilding Portugal products and the products of a wide range of Wild Côa Network members.


Lunch provided with products from the Wild Côa Network during the ERN-EYR event in the Greater Côa Valley
The Wild Côa Network, which now comprises over 50 members, is driving the development of nature-based enterprise in and around Portugal’s Greater Côa Valley.
Nelleke de Weerd


Changing the narrative in the Iberian Highlands

The aim is to establish nature-based business networks  in all of Rewilding Europe’s rewilding landscapes, with a number of rewilding teams already following in Rewilding Portugal’s footsteps.

In the Iberian Highlands rewilding landscape in Spain, the Rewilding Spain team are supporting a growing network of companies involved in nature-based tourism across the Castilla La Mancha and Aragón regions. The growth of such tourism, which is aligned with rewilding principles, will help to change the socio-economic outlook for local communities, in an area where rural depopulation has long had a negative impact.

“We hope that the growth of the association will help people in local communities see that rewilding and nature recovery can support the sustainable development of the region,” says Basilio Rodriguez, Rewilding Spain’s Enterprise Manager. “The companies involved will lead the way, with Rewilding Spain providing advice and other support.”


Rewilding Spain’s Enterprise Manager Basilio Rodriguez is working to develop a nature-based business network in the Iberian Highlands.
Neil Aldridge


Leveraging natural resources

One of the biggest wins for the Rewilding Spain team since the launch of the Iberian Highlands rewilding landscape in late 2022 has been the development of natural grazing at different sites. The team have overseen the release of herds of Przewalski’s horses, Tauros, and Serrano horses, which are all having a beneficial ecological impact, and helping to draw more visitors to the region.

“We want to see companies use the return of animals such as Przewalski’s horses and Tauros, as well as facilities such as wildlife watching hides, to improve their offerings,” says Basilio Rodriguez. “This will help them to increase their clients and their revenues, in a sustainable way. It will also help to spread the positive message of rewilding.”


Przewalsk's horse in Villanueva de Alcorón (Spain)
The release of herbivores such as Przewalski’s horses in the Iberian Highlands is helping local businesses improve their tourism offerings.
Lidia Valverde


Creative synergy

A member of the Iberian Highlands business network, entrepreneur Soraya Espinosa recently opened a nature-based tour company called El Observario.

“El Observario is a small company focused on creating activities and experiences in harmony with nature,” explains Soraya. “My business objective is to develop offerings hand-in-hand with the landscape, and to promote the rich natural and cultural heritage of the Iberian Highlands.

“Being a member of the network allows me to benefit from the increasing natural value of the landscape, and rewilding measures such as the reintroduction of iconic herbivores. On a personal level, I love being part of a community of people with similar interests and philosophies, with whom I can share and address important nature-related issues. The protection and recovery of nature is one of the main pillars of El Observario, so there is a lot of synergy with Rewilding Spain’s work.”


Natural products such as resin can generate additional income for local communities.
Neil Aldridge


Enhancing coexistence in the Central Apennines

In the Central Apennines rewilding landscape in Italy, the local rewilding team have also created a network of local producers, tour operators, and accommodation owners. This has led to the sale of high-quality food from the Central Apennines through so-called “Bear-Smart Boxes“, and the development of “Rewilding Weeks“, which aim to reconnect professionals and businesses with nature.


Products Bear-Smart Box in collaboration with Broozy
By generating revenue for local producers, Bear-Smart Boxes are helping to promote human-bear bear coexistence in the Central Apennines of Italy.
Rewilding Apennines


In addition to helping local nature-based businesses, these products and services help to promote rewilding and enhance human-wildlife coexistence in the landscape – a key focus of local rewilding efforts.

Activities during the Rewilding Week, organised by Rewilding Apennines and taking place on September 2023 in the Central Apennines in presence of team members, Berenice Guinel, Dara Brodey and Valerio Reale. Local cider tasting and visit to apple producer Marco De Matteis in Cesoli, near Ortona dei Marsi.
Local cider tasting during a Rewilding Week in the Central Apennines.
Bruno D'Amicis


Promoting nature recovery and human rewilding

Francesca Dell’Ova is the founder of Shine Artisan Laboratory, a small business that produces goat’s milk soap and other goat’s milk cosmetic products in Pescasseroli, a town the heart of the Central Apennines rewilding landscape. Together with other family members, Francesca makes soap using a cold process that safeguards the properties of all of its natural ingredients.

“The network is helping to raise the profile of the local area and promote the products and services of the businesses within it,” says Francesca. “It also acts a platform for the exchange of ideas between members. The network gives us the courage and strength to move forward, because living in such a wild and remote area can sometimes be a challenge.

“The way I was brought up gave me great respect for nature; with my products I try to increase awareness of the importance of enabling nature to recover, which can benefit everyone. I also like to promote human rewilding, which in my view involves more contact with nature, slowing down, and using authentic natural products.”


The Shine Artisan Laboratory, which was founded by Francesca Dell’Ova, produces goat’s milk soap and other goat’s milk cosmetic products.


Helping nature-based businesses flourish

As a specialist financing division of Rewilding Europe, Rewilding Europe Capital has been providing commercial loans and advice to a wide range of nature-based businesses located in and around our rewilding landscapes since 2014. If you are a European entrepreneur with a desire to enhance wild nature, Rewilding Europe Capital may be able to supply the support you need to help realise your ambition. For more information, please contact Rewilding Europe’s Conservation Finance Expert, Daniel Veríssimo.

In addition, enterprise officers are available in the majority of Rewilding Europe’s rewildling landscapes dedicated to supporting local nature-based businesses.


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