Humans have influenced beaver’s ecological history for centuries. Empires were built on beaver fur trade. Different trends in fashion almost got the species extinct at one time, and unconsciously saved it later when preference moved from fur to silk. More recently, the green revolution consciously safeguarded the species, by promulgating protection laws.
After more than 190 years the beaver is back in the Danube Delta. Rangers of the Biosphere Reserve found the first beaver lodge upstream Tulcea in January 2012. Two dead beavers were found already in 2011 in the central parts of the delta. The closest permanent population is found in the Ialomita River, originating from animals reintroduced from Germany to the Brasov region in 1989.
Suitable landscape and socio-economic features for rewilding and protection of already existing wilderness values in Southern Carpathians were analysed in January and February by a team of Romanian and international experts, including representatives from all protected areas that will be affected. This will help the future development of the area with core sites, transition and buffer zones as well as adequate management regimes. It will also serve as the starting point for a wider “wilderness strategy” for the whole region from Brasov in the east to the Danube River in the west.
The two pilot projects of Rewilding Europe in Romania – Danube Delta and South-West Carpathians – were successfully launched in the autumn. One of the initial aspects was to look into the opportunities for the return of beavers, red deer and the European bison. Potential products linked to rewilding enterprise developments in the Danube Delta, providing support for both local communities as well as nature conservation investments, were also identified.
Rewilding Europe has started with the design of a Wildlife Recovery Programme, focusing on large herbivores to start with. A working group of dedicated specialists, Rewilding Europe’s Wildlife Team, has prepared an overview of all the wildlife restocking and reintroduction plans that we have developed for the five projects. Four species were selected to focus on: European bison, European wild horse, Aurochs and kulan.
At the end of May I was on a short break in the Belgian Ardennes – a huge forested area where tourism flourishes but where nature is not in its best condition. And it’s an area that has undergone huge transformations over the last few centuries. The Ardennes were the starting point of the Industrial Revolution on the European mainland. It’s hard to believe nowadays.