North Velebit National Park, Velebit Nature Park, Dalmatian coast, Adriatic sea, Croatia

Vision and objectives

At the initial stage, work is planned to increase wildlife numbers by decreasing hunting pressure through policy and field actions in close collaboration with the hunter community. Wildlife watching is already seen as an economic alternative to unprofitable hunting. Chamois is a symbolic species for the area. It was reintroduced by hunters in the 1970s, and is now well but sparsely distributed across the whole range. Additional planned activities include introduction of animals to the two national parks and establishment of large hunting free zones.

A study of the historical distribution of the other grazing mammal species will reveal opportunities for their reintroduction. Uniquely large and suitable areas for the restoration of vast natural grazing systems exist within Velebit as well as to the east of the area. The importance of the bark beetle for the natural functioning of forests will be promoted, and the concept of rewilding of freshwater systems be explored.

Local partners are formulating a wider development vision based on wilderness values and the Wild Wonders of Europe/Rewilding Europe exhibitions will be on display. This will also involve the tourism sector with the aim of creating new economic opportunities by shifting some of the coastal mass tourism stream inland without jeopardising the wilderness values. The legal and policy situation in Croatia for rewilding will be analysed, and the opportunities for creating one of central Europe’s largest wilderness area connecting Velebit with western Bosnia-Herzegovina will also be clarified.