Rewilding Europe Capital supports wildlife watching enterprise in Western Iberia

July 27, 2016

Wildlife Portugal, a wildlife tour operator, has become the fourth recipient of a Rewilding Europe Capital (REC) loan in the Western Iberia rewilding area. Wildlife Portugal is specialised in bird tours within the region and specifically in Faia Brava nature reserve. This enterprise focusses on wildlife watching, nature conservation and education.

The owner of Wildlife Portugal, Fernando Romão, at the wildlife watching hide in the Côa Valley, Western Iberia rewilding landscape, Portugal.
The owner of Wildlife Portugal, Fernando Romão, at the wildlife watching hide in the Côa Valley, Western Iberia rewilding landscape, Portugal.

In collaboration with Associação Transumância e Natureza (ATN), Wildlife Portugal will use the €33,000 loan to develop two new bird watching and photography hides focusing on the majestic golden and Bonelli’s eagles together with Egyptian, black and griffon vulture. The hides will be located in a rocky outcrop situated high above the meandering Côa River that carves through the heart of the reserve.

— Matthew McLuckie, Investment Manager for REC commented, “Our team are thrilled to have completed our fourth REC loan in Western Iberia building on the ‘cluster’ of complimentary enterprises now including Star Camp, Casa da Cisterna and Miles Away. Together these businesses are collaborating to pioneer rewilding and nature-based tourism in this region and are all equally committed to its nature and wildlife; for example all enterprises contribute their levy collections from guests towards rewilding activities and land purchases to extend the reserve. It is very satisfying to see our strategy working and I cannot wait to one day walk straight from the wildlife hides to a Miles Away dinner under a starry sky, before settling into Star Camp listening to the more nocturnal activities of Faia Brava – hopefully that won’t be too far away.”

Black vulture (Aegypius monachus), Western Iberia, Portugal.
Black vulture (Aegypius monachus), Western Iberia, Portugal.

The loan will further be used to purchase a 4×4 vehicle and optical equipment enabling the business to offer a range of wildlife watching activities. Fernando Romão the business founder commented, “Demand for bird and wildlife watching is growing in Portugal and in particular foreign eco-tourists represent a major business opportunity. The construction of wildlife hides for photography at Faia Brava Reserve, will add a new differentiated and high quality experience to visitors of this rewilding area, bringing both an interesting promotional and economic impact. In partnership with local tourism businesses, we are building great quality nature-based tourism programs contributing financially to Faia Brava’s Reserve conservation management.”

Rewilding Europe is proactively collaborating with ATN throughout the Côa Valley on a range of rewilding activities such as the reintroduction of natural grazing as a key ecological process, with primitive breeds of horses and bovines. Plans are being explored to support the comeback of the rare Iberian Lynx, Spanish imperial eagle, and Iberian ibex; as well as expand the reserve into adjacent buffer areas through a land purchase strategy. This feeds into the management aim to support natural processes in core areas and let nature ‘manage itself’ to as high a degree as possible.

The hides offer a high profile tool for promoting rewilding and are expected to be a leading example, stimulating similar types of conservation focused tourism in other parts of Europe.

Rewilding Europe Capital (REC) is part of the enterprise component of Rewilding Europe, which is working to build a business case for wild nature in Europe. REC was established to positively stimulate and mature enterprise economies connected to natural landscapes in Europe, and directly supports businesses fostering new and sustainable nature-based economies. For more information on Rewilding Europe Capital please see here.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.