This November, Rewilding Europe participated at the conference ‘Innovative Financing Mechanisms for Biodiversity’ that took place in Beijing, China. The conference, organized by the European Commission and France-based environmental specialists Biotope, gathered Chinese and international conservationists and various experts from the field of nature-based economics.
It was 25 years ago when I saw a tortoise for the last time, as a researcher of perhaps the richest area of reptiles in Europe: Thrace. Even Egyptian vulture, imperial eagle and black vulture fed on reptiles there. And it appeared that the majestic golden eagle, elsewhere picking young ibex and chamois off the rocks, was taking almost 100 tortoises a year per eagle chick back to the nest.
From the very fragmented, small-landowner landscape in northeastern Portugal, we suddenly come into a big, already quite raw and wild-looking area: the 600 hectare Faia Brava private nature reserve, in the dramatic Côa valley. This is Portugal’s first private reserve and it is owned by Associaçâo Transumância e Natureza, who is working to rewild it, taking away all extractive use and bringing back lost wildlife, as well as protecting the already existing precious locally breeding wildlife: the Bonelli’s eagle, the golden eagle, griffon vulture, Egyptian vulture, eagle owl etc. And taking care of the cultural heritage sites in the reserve as well.
From the wide and relatively intact Dehesa forests of the Salamanca district in Castilla y León. After five minutes in the Campanarios de Azába nature reserve, we understand that we must be in the right place with the impressive sight of more than 100 large raptors slowly taking to their wings in the air thermals of the morning sun over the holm and cork oaks of the reserve.