The period from July to October is a risky one in Western Iberia every year. You cannot imagine how high the temperatures can get and how scarce the rains most often are. This means a great risk of fire. Even if fire is a natural phenomenon here and has always been, the frequency has increased to very high and dangerous levels that are not natural. Not because of the climate, but rather because of humans and their habits.
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The disappearance of grazing herds of sheep and goats transformed large areas of the Mediterranean mountain landscape into forest with dense undergrowth and scrub. These landscapes are particularly susceptible to large fires and extremely dry summers due to climate change increase the chances of this. But with the return of native herbivores such as deer, ibex, wild horses and wild cattle, semi-natural landscapes, which are much less vulnerable to fires, are once again formed.
A mosaic of forest, scrub, grassland and heath is being restored in the Netherlands to boost biodiversity. The reserve’s firm focus on natural grazing and natural processes is a valuable addition to the ongoing knowledge exchange between members of the European Rewilding Network.
The release of 10 Sorraia horses in the Greater Côa Valley in northern Portugal will increase natural grazing, reduce wildfire risk and boost nature-based tourism.
Extensively grazed landscapes have a higher insect diversity, because of the many effects of natural grazing. Under the terms of the GrazeLIFE project, our partner ARK Nature is studying one of these effects more explicitly: the ecological value of clean manure.
The expansion of natural grazing across rewilding areas and in areas that are part of the European Rewilding Network is one of Rewilding Europe’s key priorities. Last November, Julia Clark began as the new coordinator for the reintroduction and restocking of wild / semi-wild herbivores.
By helping to establish a stable population of deer in the area, the reintroduction will boost biodiversity through natural grazing, help scavenging species such as vultures by increasing the availability of carrion, and raise the profile of the Rhodope Mountains as a prime nature tourism destination.
The natural grazing of the Lika Plains in Croatia got a boost last week with the arrival of a herd of Konik horses from Latvia. 45 horses, well adapted to harsh winter conditions and the presence of large predators, are already exploring their new habitat in one of Europe’s most spectacular landscapes.
With this, one more step is taken along the road towards landscape rewilding through restoring the natural grazing by wild keystone species.
The newly established “Reintroducing the Polesskaya horse” initiative is working to rescue one of Europe’s most endangered equine species. European Rewilding Network membership will help the rewilding team realise their vision.