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Rewilding Europe in the Danube Delta featured in Trouw daily

June 22, 2013

Rewilding Europe efforts to bring back wildlife in the Romanian Danube Delta are featured in the article “Nature gets its players back” in the Dutch Trouw daily (June 18).

With its size of 580,000 hectares, the Danube Delta fits perfectly to the definition of mega-reserve.  If you travel here by boat, you will see large numbers of exciting and attractive birds. Although there are worries about poaching, the Delta definitely has potential to become a top nature destination, Hans Marijnissen writes.

This area, like many others in Europe, is experiencing rural depopulation. In 2015, four out of five Europeans will live in an urban environment. Young people often don’t see their future in the countryside or in taking over the farm of their parents. This enormous migration will result in 12 to 18 million more hectares of abandoned farmland in Europe by 2030. Because of the grazing livestock disappearing from the landscapes, many open areas are threatened by turning into bushes and shrubs, whist around fifty percent of all plant and animal species in Europe need the open or half open landscapes to survive.

Rewilding Europe offers according tho the article one solution to the problem: to in ten years help create ten wildlife and wilderness areas in Europe, of at least 100,000 hectares each. Where, as Frans Schepers, Managing Director of Rewilding Europe, points out, it should not be man who is managing the landscape, but rather nature that regulates itself as much as possible. There will also be more room for many of the iconic species of European nature: from the golden eagle to the brown bear, from the black stork to the wolf and the lynx. Each of these species have sharply increased in numbers – some of them by over 400 percent – in the past decades thanks to all European efforts for their protection. “In our plan, with the comeback of the herbivores such as deer, wild horses and bison, nature will get its players back”, says Schepers.

In the Danube delta, Rewilding Europe first focuses on the outer delta, which has a bit more of firm, dry land. The Black Sea, has to a large extent closed the Danube here with sand ridges, where few small villages are situated. In this area, according to Rewilding Europe, quality nature tourism can be developed together with the local people. The villages Letea in the north part and St. George in the south are at the core of this process, Hans Marijnissen writes.

Alexandra Panait, employee at the WWF in Romania and involved in the Rewilding Europe initiative, explains that the intention to release herds of deer, wild cattle and wild horses in parts of the area that are on firm land. The local people need to get used to the idea, since they have earlier seen these animals mainly as domestic cattle and hunting prey. Eventually also the wolf will come back and settle here. “We show that a living wolf can bring more money than a dead one”, Panait says. “A living one keeps attracting tourists.” She has also done research on how the locals look at the reintroduction of beavers. “We’re going to start by putting out sixty beavers back into the creeks around the villages, which are important for water management, but that also offer a possibility for ‘beaver tourism’.” About fifty percent of the people are already positive to the beaver, especially since they see the possible financial benefits, the article says.

This is the third article on Rewilding Europe in Trouw daily after “The bear is back, cash!” and “What Europe can learn from Africa?”

See here the article (in Dutch).

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