This is an area that since over 70 years back to a large extent already has been rewilded, as a result of the tragic aftermaths of the Second World War.
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The area’s original inhabitants, the Boyko Ruthenians, were almost all evicted in 1947 by Polish/Soviet forces and never allowed to come back, their homes burned and bulldozed and the whole area made into forestry zones and nature reserves. A horrible legacy of course. On the Polish side lies the 30 000 hectare Bieszczady National Park, which is very famous and well known in Poland, but so far, not that much anywhere else. It is surrounded by forest reserves and Natura 2000 areas. On the Slovak side lies the Poloniny National Park and its surrounding forest reserves and Natura 2000 sites. The whole area, including the Uzhansky National Nature Park on the Ukrainian side, is declared the ”East Carpathians Biosphere reserve”.
Few other regions of the continent have more protected areas than the Eastern Carpathians (in total around half a million ha of national parks, biosphere reserves, forest reserves, landscape parks, nature parks and Natura 2000 sites).
Tourism is growing and becoming quite important on the Polish side, with some 300,000 visitors to the area, mainly during summer. But on the Slovak side, tourism is still almost non-existent.
Finally, a comprehensive poll held in 2012 showed that there is a massive local support for the rewilding ideas among the local communities on both sides of the border, as well as nation-wide in Slovakia.
Taken all together, this provides for some very promising rewilding opportunities. Rewilding Europe is now working on how to further tailor and expand the partnerships in this rewilding area.