European Rewilding Network
064

Rewilding Geopark Estrela

High value geoheritage closely bonded with biodiversity and the local communities

Fraga da Pena Tor geosite is one of many geosites that are a part of Geopark Estrela in Western Iberia, Portugal.
Filipe Patrocinio / Geopark Estrela
Geopark Estrela during winter time.
Filipe Patrocinio
The Serra da Estrela is the highest mountain range in mainland Portugal with the maximum elevation of 1993 metres.
Filipe Patrocinio
The geographical position of the park, coupled with its diverse bioclimates and soil conditions, mean it is home to many unique and endangered species.
Filipe Patrocinio

Situated in Western Iberia, the Serra da Estrela is the highest mountain range in mainland Portugal (maximum elevation 1993 metres). Extending over more than 220,000 hectares of this massif is the Estrela Geopark, one of the richest areas on the Iberian Peninsula in terms of biodiversity and cultural heritage.

As with many other rural areas of Portugal, much of the Estrela Geopark which was once used for agriculture has now been abandoned. However, unlike in other areas, many landowners have been willing to sell their rocky smallholdings, and this has led to burgeoning opportunities around nature conservation, rewilding and nature-based tourism.

The Rewilding Geopark Estrela project, overseen by the Associação Geopark Estrela, is now working to protect, promote and rewild the nature and wildlife of the Serra da Estrela area. It currently provides the framework for implementing rewilding and conservation measures to other local geosites, and is working closely with nine municipalities to extend a legal protection framework.

Project: Rewilding Geopark Estrela
Region: Western Iberia
Type of protection: Natura2000, RAMSAR, PNSE
Habitat types: The natural vegetation appears in three separate sectors. Under 900 m, in very clearly defined areas mixed evergreen oak forest. Between 800/900 m and 1600 m is the domain of the black oak. From 1600 m upwards, we find the juniper and the high pastures where the gentian, a plant in danger of extinction, can be found.
Type of project: Methods and experiences to allow natural numbers and densities of native, wild or rewilded species, Pilot projects focusing on supporting key wildlife species being present in more natural densities, showing their role in the ecosystem, Projects based on a stewardship anchored in respect for land, water, and all living things, with a management striving to support natural processes and utilize nature’s own mechanism, Projects creating local pride and common ownership and responsibility for wild nature amongst land owners, communities and resource users, leading to new alternative uses, Re-introductions / re-stockings of locally extinct or rare key wildlife species, or breeding of such species with the goal to release them into the wild, Successful agreements with forestry entities about changing forestry practises into more nature-based management systems, Successful agreements with hunting entities about sustainable hunting and the development of wildlife watching tourism, in order to bring back wildlife in natural numbers, Successful agreements with water management entities about changing water management methods to allow for natural processes, Successful examples of enterprises that are based on economic values of the wild and that contribute to rewilding through generating revenues, business, jobs and income, Successful examples of initiatives that address to reduce human-wildlife conflict, and show tangible benefits / reduced problems for the local people
Aim and vision: The Estrela Geopark builds on a high value geoheritage closely bonded with biodiversity and the local communities, and its strategy aims at conservation and promoting regional development in an interdisciplinary approach committed UNESCO's principles. The project aims to emphasise on the science-support plan, which includes the implementation of a mountain research centre, a program for the development of the geosciences targeting at key-topics for the Geopark management and at consolidating the new generation of geoscientists. The Geopark science program will bring together scientists, the local communities and stakeholders, aiming at socio-economical development, empowering the local community.
To be recognized as an entity of excellence and reference by the local, regional, national and international community as a promoter of the sustainable nature based economic development of the Serra da Estrela region through the management of the UNESCO World Geopark, in strict compliance with the objectives set by the Global and European Geoparks Networks and the United Nations Organization for Science, Culture and Education and rewilding methods.
Uniqueness of the project: We are inspired by different rewilding initiatives in Europe in which people started bringing back wilderness to abandoned areas. And we think that our project will be an example for other people in Iberia that nature initiatives are possible in our country too.
Other activities: Community involved, Eco tourism, Education, High-impact communications, Recreational activities, Research, Sale of sustainable products
Results so far: International, national and regional recognition of the importance of Geopark Estrela Strategy for conservation in Serra da Estrela territory.
Inspirational value: It’s not just the animals that are benefiting, humans are part of this ecosystem too and one of the most important and impactful outcomes has been the further development of a local eco-tourism industry.
Experience you would like to share: In Portugal, rural areas like the Estrela Geopark area that have been used for agriculture throughout their ancient history, have (relatively recently) been abandoned due to drought and the lure of jobs in the big cities. However, in the case of this region, unlike many others, land owners are more than willing to sell their rocky patches for the purpose of nature conservation and sustainable nature based tourism.
Experience you would like to gain: The EU Commission’s new biodiversity strategy for Europe and the Natura 2000 Network indicates more favorable policy for wildlife and wilderness in Europe.
Map
Country
Portugal
Start year
2016
Size (ha)
221.600
Area type
Freshwater lakes, Mediterranean vegetation, Mountainous
Natural process
River dynamics
Rewilding Geopark Estrela
Fraga da Pena Tor geosite is one of many geosites that are a part of Geopark Estrela in Western Iberia, Portugal.
Filipe Patrocinio / Geopark Estrela
Geopark Estrela during winter time.
Filipe Patrocinio
The Serra da Estrela is the highest mountain range in mainland Portugal with the maximum elevation of 1993 metres.
Filipe Patrocinio
The geographical position of the park, coupled with its diverse bioclimates and soil conditions, mean it is home to many unique and endangered species.
Filipe Patrocinio

Situated in Western Iberia, the Serra da Estrela is the highest mountain range in mainland Portugal (maximum elevation 1993 metres). Extending over more than 220,000 hectares of this massif is the Estrela Geopark, one of the richest areas on the Iberian Peninsula in terms of biodiversity and cultural heritage.

As with many other rural areas of Portugal, much of the Estrela Geopark which was once used for agriculture has now been abandoned. However, unlike in other areas, many landowners have been willing to sell their rocky smallholdings, and this has led to burgeoning opportunities around nature conservation, rewilding and nature-based tourism.

The Rewilding Geopark Estrela project, overseen by the Associação Geopark Estrela, is now working to protect, promote and rewild the nature and wildlife of the Serra da Estrela area. It currently provides the framework for implementing rewilding and conservation measures to other local geosites, and is working closely with nine municipalities to extend a legal protection framework.

Map
Country
Portugal
Start year
2016
Size (ha)
221.600
Area type
Freshwater lakes, Mediterranean vegetation, Mountainous
Natural process
River dynamics
Specification
Project: Rewilding Geopark Estrela
Region: Western Iberia
Type of protection: Natura2000, RAMSAR, PNSE
Habitat types: The natural vegetation appears in three separate sectors. Under 900 m, in very clearly defined areas mixed evergreen oak forest. Between 800/900 m and 1600 m is the domain of the black oak. From 1600 m upwards, we find the juniper and the high pastures where the gentian, a plant in danger of extinction, can be found.
Description
Type of project: Methods and experiences to allow natural numbers and densities of native, wild or rewilded species, Pilot projects focusing on supporting key wildlife species being present in more natural densities, showing their role in the ecosystem, Projects based on a stewardship anchored in respect for land, water, and all living things, with a management striving to support natural processes and utilize nature’s own mechanism, Projects creating local pride and common ownership and responsibility for wild nature amongst land owners, communities and resource users, leading to new alternative uses, Re-introductions / re-stockings of locally extinct or rare key wildlife species, or breeding of such species with the goal to release them into the wild, Successful agreements with forestry entities about changing forestry practises into more nature-based management systems, Successful agreements with hunting entities about sustainable hunting and the development of wildlife watching tourism, in order to bring back wildlife in natural numbers, Successful agreements with water management entities about changing water management methods to allow for natural processes, Successful examples of enterprises that are based on economic values of the wild and that contribute to rewilding through generating revenues, business, jobs and income, Successful examples of initiatives that address to reduce human-wildlife conflict, and show tangible benefits / reduced problems for the local people
Aim and vision: The Estrela Geopark builds on a high value geoheritage closely bonded with biodiversity and the local communities, and its strategy aims at conservation and promoting regional development in an interdisciplinary approach committed UNESCO's principles. The project aims to emphasise on the science-support plan, which includes the implementation of a mountain research centre, a program for the development of the geosciences targeting at key-topics for the Geopark management and at consolidating the new generation of geoscientists. The Geopark science program will bring together scientists, the local communities and stakeholders, aiming at socio-economical development, empowering the local community.
To be recognized as an entity of excellence and reference by the local, regional, national and international community as a promoter of the sustainable nature based economic development of the Serra da Estrela region through the management of the UNESCO World Geopark, in strict compliance with the objectives set by the Global and European Geoparks Networks and the United Nations Organization for Science, Culture and Education and rewilding methods.
Uniqueness of the project: We are inspired by different rewilding initiatives in Europe in which people started bringing back wilderness to abandoned areas. And we think that our project will be an example for other people in Iberia that nature initiatives are possible in our country too.
Other activities: Community involved, Eco tourism, Education, High-impact communications, Recreational activities, Research, Sale of sustainable products
Achievements
Results so far: International, national and regional recognition of the importance of Geopark Estrela Strategy for conservation in Serra da Estrela territory.
Exchange
Inspirational value: It’s not just the animals that are benefiting, humans are part of this ecosystem too and one of the most important and impactful outcomes has been the further development of a local eco-tourism industry.
Experience you would like to share: In Portugal, rural areas like the Estrela Geopark area that have been used for agriculture throughout their ancient history, have (relatively recently) been abandoned due to drought and the lure of jobs in the big cities. However, in the case of this region, unlike many others, land owners are more than willing to sell their rocky patches for the purpose of nature conservation and sustainable nature based tourism.
Experience you would like to gain: The EU Commission’s new biodiversity strategy for Europe and the Natura 2000 Network indicates more favorable policy for wildlife and wilderness in Europe.
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