European Rewilding Network

Rhodope Mountains rewilding area

The Rhodope Mountains, Bulgaria is besides being a raptor heaven for many species including griffon, Egyptian and black vultures as well as Eastern imperial eagle, also a place to roam for many other animal species like wolf, jackal and souslik. Its location in the crossroads between the European and Asian continent, the impact of the Mediterranean, its pristine landscapes and the variety of habitats here in combination with the relatively small human disturbance, make this area to be one of Europe’s biodiversity hotspots.

Project: Rhodope Mountains rewilding area
Region: Rhodope Mountains
Type of protection: Natura 2000, Specially Protected Areas
Habitat types: River and brook streambeds, low mountains, beech-oak forest, shrublands
Keystone species: Wolf, brown bear: low number, red deer, wild boar, jackal, Griffon vulture, Egyptian vulture, Black vulture, Eastern imperial eagle
Fauna (mega) species present: Fallow deer, Konik horse, Chamois, Red fox, Otter, Souslik, Rhodopi short horn cattle, saker falcon, Levant sparrowhawk, peregrine falcon
Aim and vision: Four priority areas will serve as inspiration for rewilding at the larger scale: Madzharovo, Byala Reka, Studen Kladenets and Chernoochene. In these core areas, non-intervention management and giving space to natural processes are pioneered towards a more natural landscape.
Making the Rhodope Mountains a much wilder place. For the benefit of nature and people.
Uniqueness of the project: Marvellous scenery. Unique bird, reptile and insect species. Highest diversity on butterflies, reptiles and raptors.
Other activities: Community involved, Eco tourism, Education, Other, Recreational activities, Research, Sale of sustainable products
Results you aim to accomplish in 10 years from now on: By 2024, the Rhodope Mountains area, with its mosaic of open landscapes, oak and beech forests, grasslands and rivers, as well as rocky slopes and cliffs, has become one of the most exciting wild areas in South-Eastern Europe.
Results so far: During the New Thracian Gold project (2009-2014) many achievements have been made on which the rewilding work will build further, including:
- Reintroduction of fallow deer, red deer, wild horses and European bison. Four wilderness areas in the Eastern Rhodopes are now partly managed through natural grazing by large herbivores
- Development of three hides for wildlife photography tourism
- Publishing several publications to promote the region include a travel map, nature travel guide book and Crossbill guidebook
Inspirational value: The Bulgarian team is devoted towards the people and the nature and has inspired others without telling what to do, all of them found their own way to act. Concrete help and lots of media attention made them believe that there is something special about their region. Having their B&B or animals on television or in the newspapers made them proud about themselves and about the project. In a couple of years the region became a growing popular destination in Bulgaria and abroad and has now thousands of visitors per year. So more people start to invest. Also hunting groups are inspired and open up their doors to tourists in the non-hunting season, and are motivated by the reintroduction of deer, bison and horses.
Experience you would like to share: Motivating local people, working on trust
Working together with hunting associations
Forming a good team
Learning from reintroductions of several species like red and fallow deer, wild living horse, bison and wild living cattle.
Experience you would like to gain: How to attract more local and foreign tourists<br /> Catching wild animals
Map
Country
Bulgaria
Start year
2014
Size (ha)
250000
Area type
Forest-grassland mosaic
Natural process
Natural grazing, Predation
Flagship species
Vulture

The Rhodope Mountains, Bulgaria is besides being a raptor heaven for many species including griffon, Egyptian and black vultures as well as Eastern imperial eagle, also a place to roam for many other animal species like wolf, jackal and souslik. Its location in the crossroads between the European and Asian continent, the impact of the Mediterranean, its pristine landscapes and the variety of habitats here in combination with the relatively small human disturbance, make this area to be one of Europe’s biodiversity hotspots.

Map
Country
Bulgaria
Start year
2014
Size (ha)
250000
Area type
Forest-grassland mosaic
Natural process
Natural grazing, Predation
Flagship species
Vulture
Specification
Project: Rhodope Mountains rewilding area
Region: Rhodope Mountains
Type of protection: Natura 2000, Specially Protected Areas
Habitat types: River and brook streambeds, low mountains, beech-oak forest, shrublands
Keystone species: Wolf, brown bear: low number, red deer, wild boar, jackal, Griffon vulture, Egyptian vulture, Black vulture, Eastern imperial eagle
Fauna (mega) species present: Fallow deer, Konik horse, Chamois, Red fox, Otter, Souslik, Rhodopi short horn cattle, saker falcon, Levant sparrowhawk, peregrine falcon
Description
Aim and vision: Four priority areas will serve as inspiration for rewilding at the larger scale: Madzharovo, Byala Reka, Studen Kladenets and Chernoochene. In these core areas, non-intervention management and giving space to natural processes are pioneered towards a more natural landscape.
Making the Rhodope Mountains a much wilder place. For the benefit of nature and people.
Uniqueness of the project: Marvellous scenery. Unique bird, reptile and insect species. Highest diversity on butterflies, reptiles and raptors.
Other activities: Community involved, Eco tourism, Education, Other, Recreational activities, Research, Sale of sustainable products
Achievements
Results you aim to accomplish in 10 years from now on: By 2024, the Rhodope Mountains area, with its mosaic of open landscapes, oak and beech forests, grasslands and rivers, as well as rocky slopes and cliffs, has become one of the most exciting wild areas in South-Eastern Europe.
Results so far: During the New Thracian Gold project (2009-2014) many achievements have been made on which the rewilding work will build further, including:
- Reintroduction of fallow deer, red deer, wild horses and European bison. Four wilderness areas in the Eastern Rhodopes are now partly managed through natural grazing by large herbivores
- Development of three hides for wildlife photography tourism
- Publishing several publications to promote the region include a travel map, nature travel guide book and Crossbill guidebook
Exchange
Inspirational value: The Bulgarian team is devoted towards the people and the nature and has inspired others without telling what to do, all of them found their own way to act. Concrete help and lots of media attention made them believe that there is something special about their region. Having their B&B or animals on television or in the newspapers made them proud about themselves and about the project. In a couple of years the region became a growing popular destination in Bulgaria and abroad and has now thousands of visitors per year. So more people start to invest. Also hunting groups are inspired and open up their doors to tourists in the non-hunting season, and are motivated by the reintroduction of deer, bison and horses.
Experience you would like to share: Motivating local people, working on trust<br /> Working together with hunting associations<br /> Forming a good team<br /> Learning from reintroductions of several species like red and fallow deer, wild living horse, bison and wild living cattle.
Experience you would like to gain: How to attract more local and foreign tourists<br /> Catching wild animals
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