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Achievements to date

A film documentary about the wilderness and the rewilding (‘The Wolf Mountains’) was released by Arolla film in the autumn of 2013 and launched in October with a great success at WILD 10 in Spain. The screenings in Slovakia enjoyed a large public interest. The film production was to a great part funded by Rewilding Europe.

Wild Carpathian Wolf photographed in Bieszczady Mountains.

Grzegorz Lesniewski / Wild Wonders of Europe

 

General

  • An overview has been obtained of the opportunities for rewilding in the Bieszczady region in Poland and the area in and around the Poloniny National Park in Slovakia. The feasibility study that was done shows that the Eastern Carpathians rewilding area provides huge rewilding opportunities on both the Slovakian and Polish side, and possibly also on the Ukrainian side. This mainly focuses on transboundary wilderness management of migratory species of large herbivores and large carnivores between the three countries.
  • An initial base has been developed for the rewilding ideas with the main actors in the area like the direction of the Bieszczady National Park, the director of the Regional State Forest Administration, the director of the tourism department in the regional government and the mayors of all the relevant municipalities and villages in the area, as well as with the general public.

Rewilding

  •     Our local partner WOLF has been running a successful campaign calling to halt the killing of wolves in the Slovakian side of the region, since 150 wolves were killed during the last open hunting season (even though the limit was 130) of which 1/3 were killed inside the rewilding area. More than a thousand citizens from Slovakia, Poland and Czech Republic have sent letters to the European Commission complaining about this situation in Slovakia. The campaign has now resulted in a wolf hunting ban in the area of the Poloniny National Park and in the area of Eastern Carpathians Landscape Park.

    Kamil Soos (left) and Viliam Bartus looking over a clearcut at the border of Poloniny National Park, Slovakia.

    Florian Möllers / Rewilding Europe

  •     Our local partner WOLF also significantly contributed to preventing an amendment to the Game Act, which would have reduced the areas of hunting districts by 10 times (this would have extremely threatened herbivores and large carnivores in the Wolf Mountains) and they also achieved a ban on selective trapping of carnivores.
  •     A number of meetings have been held with land owners and land managers about creating local rewilding pilot areas (Upper San, Runina and Starina Valleys), still waiting to result in concrete rewilding agreements.
  •     A study about the creation of a natural grazing initiative with wild-living horses concluded that this requires renting or buying at least several hundreds of hectares of land, ideally more than 1000 hectares, where these horses (the best were considered to be the Polish Konik breed) could live.

Enterprise

  • An ecotourism and wildlife travel agency has been set up by the Carpathian Wildlife Foundation in Poland.
  •   A total of 16 walking trails have been established, including some of the best wildlife watching spots, and these will soon be available online.

    Hikers in Bieszczady National Park.

    Florian Möllers / Rewilding Europe

  •   An educational Geo-cache trail was created above Osadne village in Slovakia and it was officially launched in November 2012. It has 16 caches in the field, each with an educational text about forests or the history of the area. The shortest way of passing all the caches is about 19 km long. More such geocache trails are under preparation.

Communication

  •   WOLF has suggested a new brand name for the area, especially on the Slovak side: ”The Wolf Mountains”, which is based upon an ancient name of the region, found in some of the oldest maps from here.
  • WOLF has met with crucial decision makers and stakeholders at local and regional levels on the Slovak side – representatives of political parties and local governments, parliamentary deputies at national and municipality level, in order to promote a vision of bringing back wilderness to the Wolf Mountains and to gain political and scientific support of the project and particular legislative changes.
  •   The Carpathian Wildlife Foundation (CWF) produced the magazine “Bieszczadnik” in Polish. Two editions of it have been published, with major content about Rewilding Europe and its work in the Eastern Carpathians.
  • A public opinion survey was funded by Rewilding Europe and carried out on both sides of the border, showing major popular support for the concept of wilderness and rewilding, and for creating possible new economic opportunities from the wild values.
  • A photo mission completed, delivering top quality imagery from the Eastern Carpathians, in combination with the purchase of excellent existing stock photo material.
  •  A public appeal “We love bears” was prepared and launched, collecting signatures during the summer music festivals and raising public awareness about wilderness issues.