Nature for People

Helping nature heal can lead to prosperous local economies. Rewilding also offers a wide range of new prospects, stronger social coherence and an enhanced sense of identity and pride.

Bruno D’Amicis

Nature for People

Helping nature heal can lead to prosperous local economies. Rewilding also offers a wide range of new prospects, stronger social coherence and an enhanced sense of identity and pride.

Economic benefits

Bruno D'Amicis / Rewilding Europe

A business case for the wild

Rewilding Europe aims to create that rewilding can generate new business opportunities, jobs and income. By integrating rewilding objectives into business plans, we support enterprises and communities in developing nature-based economies.

The restoration of ecosystems can become fertile ground for the development of new nature based economies in rural areas, providing new livelihoods for local communities. Rewilding generates new opportunities for rural economies – which are now often associated with economic stagnation or decline, rural depopulation and land abandonment.

Mark Hamblin

Our dedicated enterprise team

Rewilding Europe was one of the original European conservation organisations to recognise the potential of the enterprise component to the pursuit of securing more space for nature. Our enterprise team brings together people with significant international experience in business, finance and rewilding, and who are dedicated to supporting businesses and communities that have the potential to revitalise rural economies.

Rewilding Europe also aims to enable landscape-scale nature recovery across Europe by demonstrating that rewilding initiatives can generate new and significant value for landowners and managers, investors, a wider network of stakeholders, and society at large.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Investment in rewilding

Rewilding at scale is one of the best ways of addressing climate change, enhancing biodiversity, and enriching communities and businesses in a sustainable way. This is why we are committed to making rewilding commercially viable and investible.

The newly setup company Rewilding Climate Solutions (RCS) aims to significantly scale up European rewilding by connecting land owners and impact investors looking to invest in rigorously verified, long-term, high-impact rewilding initiatives.

We also provide financial loans to businesses that catalyse, support and achieve positive environmental and socio-economic outcomes that support rewilding through Rewilding Europe Capital (REC), Europe’s first rewilding enterprise funding facility.

“In Europe conservation and entrepreneurship often appear to inhabit mutually exclusive worlds.
Rewilding enterprise can bring these worlds together.”

Timon Rutten - Head of Finance

Timon Rutten
Head of Enterprise

Wider benefits

Bruno D'Amicis/Rewilding Europe

Revitalising local communities

In several of our landscapes we have started to see the revitalisation of local communities. Young families and individuals have returned to their villages, breathing new life into places that have long suffered from rural depopulation. Rewilding enterprises, such as wildlife guiding and accommodation, draw visitors and rewilding centres are becoming hubs for local stakeholders and partners to meet.

Rewilding fosters social cohesion and enhance sense of identity and pride related to nature and wildlife among local communities in our rewilding landscapes, while improving people’s health, wellbeing and preserving cultural heritage.

Sandra Bartocha / Wild Wonders of Europe

Climate positive

Rewilding not only boosts the climate change resilience of nature, but of communities too. Nature-based climate solutions, such as the regeneration of natural forests and increased natural grazing, can help people and businesses by minimising the risk and impact of global warming-related events, such as floods, droughts, and outbreaks of disease and catastrophic wildfire. They can also provide a range of co-benefits for sustainable economic development, health, and societal wellbeing.

Yet the huge potential of rewilding to deliver such solutions remains largely untapped. This is one of the reasons why Rewilding Europe is working so hard to scale up rewilding as quickly as possible – by demonstrating the benefits through its own practical action, by encouraging and supporting other climate positive rewilding initiatives, and by exploring options to increase investment in nature recovery.

Threats of rural land abandonment

Rural economies, societies and landscapes across much of Europe are changing as rural to urban migration intensifies. In 2020, four out of five Europeans live in urban areas.

Drivers of this transition include demographic changes as younger generations migrate to urban regions drawn by better employment prospects, education, healthcare and social life; a consequent decline in the provision of rural goods and services; lack of public and private investment; increasingly limited employment opportunities exacerbated by the mechanisation of agrarian and forestry production processes (traditionally significant job creators).

The net result of land abandonment is threefold:

Environmental impact

  • Open and diverse habitat biodiversity is being lost because of bush and forest encroachment, resulting in a rapid decline of species, biodiversity and natural ecosystems.  
  • Populations of many species (mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, plants) dependent on open and half-open (mosaic) landscapes are declining and loosing terrain.

Shepherd leading his sheep to a paddock, Southern Carpathians, Romania

Socio-economic impact

  • Experienced labour forces and associated enterprises are diminishing.
  • Employment prospects are worsening.
  • Rural areas are increasingly dependent on subsidy support.

Cultural impact

  • Rural populations are becoming aged as younger community members move to urban areas.
  • Cultural heritage and traditional skills of rural areas are being eroded.
  • Families are fragmenting also resulting in associated land marginalisation.

Opportunities of rural land abandonment

Although land abandonment can and does have a number of negative consequences including increased risk of forest fires and acute socio-economic decline, it also presents a number of compelling new opportunities. With its enterprise component, Rewilding Europe is creatively leveraging these opportunities to build new nature-driven economies that can serve to reverse these damaging trends.

Environmental impact

  • Less human influence means natural processes have a chance to help improve the natural environment and restore nature.
  • Wildlife species can come back and experience less conflict with humans, and food chains can be restored.
  • Dynamic, mosaic landscapes can develop driven by large herbivores and large carnivores, supporting species of a wide range of open/semi-open habitats.

Socio-economic impact

  • New businesses can be developed based on wilder landscapes and wildlife comeback, offering new and different products.
  • Provision of new job and income opportunities.
  • Social coherence and local society can be enhanced if new local businesses build networks and generate multiplier effects.
  • Reduces dependency on subsidies.

Betty and her daughter at the Wild Farm, Dolni Glavanak, Eastern Rhodope mountains, Bulgaria

Cultural impact

  • Younger people and families returning to the countryside looking for new opportunities, bringing new life into rural communities.
  • Local/regional branding of areas and products providing new identities and local pride that are nature/wildlife related.
  • Cultural heritage and traditional skills reinvigorated and in a different setting.

Our main achievements

Rewilding Europe Capital

Since 2013, through REC a total of 24 enterprises have now received financial support, with disbursed loans totalling over 2.3 million euros in six countries.  These enterprises range from wildlife viewing hides in Italy, Croatia and Portugal, wildlife breeding centres in the Netherlands to sustainable hunting ventures in Croatia, peat restoration and the rewilding of forests in Finland.

Enterprise support

Rewilding Europe’s enterprise team has provided technical support to 152 enterprises, mostly in the rewilding landscapes where we work. Out of these, 60 enterprises received specific training, while 2received a loan through Rewilding Europe Capital. The number of employments created through these enterprises is 47 people. 

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