Rewilding in Western Iberia to benefit from new business partnership

February 28, 2020

Rewilding Portugal has entered into an exciting new collaboration with Symington Family Estates – a family-owned, Portuguese wine and port-producing business. The partnership will enhance rewilding and nature-based business in northern Portugal’s Greater Côa Valley.

Faia Brava, Côa Valley, Western Iberia, Portugal, Europe, Rewilding Europe
Portugal’s Greater Côa Valley is set to benefit from the financial support of the Symington Family Estates for rewilding efforts.


Progressive partnership

Rewilding efforts in northern Portugal’s Greater Côa Valley (the Western Iberia Rewilding area), where a range of conservation initiatives are focused on reinforcing a 120,000-hectare wildlife corridor, are set to benefit from a newly inked partnership between Symington Family Estates – a historic, local wine and port-producing business – and Rewilding Portugal.

The partnership, which will last for a minimum of four years with an open-ended horizon, will see the vinicultural business provide financial support, undertake rewilding activities on their estates (most of which are located in and around the valley), and provide their employees with opportunities to volunteer with Rewilding Portugal.

“We’re delighted with this new collaboration,” says Rewilding Portugal team leader Pedro Prata. “Symington Family Estates have a long tradition of managing landscapes and sustaining livelihoods in and around the Greater Côa Valley. We look forward to working with them to make the area wilder and to develop nature-based business that bring long-term benefits to local communities.”


Promoting nature-based business

Symington Family Estates took part in a business forum last year where Pedro Prata – team leader of Rewilding Portugal – presented local rewilding efforts in the Greater Côa Valley.

The new partnership will see Symington Family Estates provide Rewilding Portugal with 15,000 euros per year from the newly established Symington Impact Fund. This will co-finance the latter’s enterprise officer position, with further financial support from the fund provided on a case-by-case basis.

The financial support from the Impact Fund will help Rewilding Portugal to develop businesses and social enterprises connected with rewilding in the Greater Côa Valley.

“Rewilding Portugal are natural partners for us,” says Johnny Symington, Symington Family Estates Chairman. “They are committed to regenerating nature on degraded or abandoned land in the north of Portugal, and their model involves boosting the local economy by developing nature-based enterprises that work to protect and enhance conservation efforts.”


Generating impact

Launched in January 2020 with an initial pledge of 1 million euros, the aim of the Symington Impact Fund is to support organisations and causes that are working on positive solutions to social and environmental issues in Portugal’s Douro, Porto and Alentejo regions, such as Rewilding Portugal.

The Symington Family Estates also took part in a business forum to promote nature-based business in the valley late last year.


Supporting practical rewilding

Under the terms of the new partnership, Symington Family Estates have also committed to implementing rewilding practices on much of their land. Rewilding Portugal will help the business to develop estate management plans that combine vineyards and wild areas in proportionate sizes.

Symington Family Estates employees will also be able to carry out voluntary work on areas of land managed by Rewilding Portugal at biannual events. Organised activities will include invasive species removal, litter clearing and riverside restoration.


Scaling up rewilding

Iberian wolf in the wild
Rewilding efforts aim at boosting the connectivity of the Portuguese wolf sub-population south of the Douro River
Andoni Canela

Rewilding in Western Iberia has been scaling up since the beginning of 2019, when two complementary project funds kicked off – “LIFEWolFlux” and “Scaling Up Rewilding in Western Iberia“. Rewilding Portugal is overseeing both projects, together with a range of local partners.

Funded by the European Commission’s LIFE programme, the aim of the first project is to boost the connectivity of the Portuguese wolf sub-population south of the Douro River, while the second involves developing the Greater Côa Valley –  which is located between the Malcata mountain range and the Douro Valley – as a 120,000-hectare (1200 square-kilometre) wildlife corridor, using funding from the Endangered Landcapes Programme (ELP). The Endangered Landscapes Programme was established thanks to a $30 million investment from Arcadia, the UK-based charitable fund of philanthropists Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.

In addition to wolves, a wide range of other keystone species will benefit from rewilding activities, such as Iberian lynx, deer, and various birds of prey.


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