On 17 May a Rewilding Europe delegation presented the initiative to a select audience at the Credo Bonum gallery in Sofia. Attendees included Julian Popov – Minister of Environment and Water, and Karel van Kesteren – Dutch Ambassador.
The Rewilding Europe team, including Frans Schepers, Staffan Widstrand, and Matthew McLuckie had just completed a scoping visit to the picturesque Eastern Rhodopes, co-nominated by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds and New Thracian Gold for inclusion as a new pilot area for the initiative. The visit was a privileged and unforgettable experience in a region with some of most abundant and concentrated biodiversity in Europe.
Both Mr. Popov and Mr. van Kesteren commented that initiatives such as Rewilding Europe, and in particular the ambition to directly link businesses to nature, are vital for creating new markets and socio-economic processes that can both enhance and protect natural landscapes, upon which they rely, and provide direct community benefits such as jobs and skills development.
The presentation concluded with a reception also attended by an ARK Nature team, who together with partners have been operating in the region for the past four years and have successfully contributed meaningful achievements in nature preservation and wildlife comeback.
The meeting was organised by New Thracian Gold and Credo Bonum Foundation. Guests and journalists also received the newly published Crossbill guide to the Eastern Rhodopes, a comprehensive guidebook for nature-minded tourists.