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Staffan Widstrand / Rewilding Europe

Achievements to date

Our two local partner NGOs (FNYH on the Spanish and ATN on the Portuguese side) have been buying land for a number of years, so they have secured land tenure with own properties already (at this stage nearly 1 300 hectares) creating the Campanarios de Azaba and Faia Brava reserves.

Aerial image Dehesa forest, Salamanca Region, Castilla y León, Spain

Staffan Widstrand / Rewilding Europe

 

General

  • The Campanarios de Azaba and Faia Brava reserves are pilot areas from which the rewilding process started and took shape.
  • Both NGOs were working in the area already before the rewilding initiative, but previously in more traditional ways, however, through their nomination they showed interest in the rewilding concept. These areas are now in a transition from traditional farming and traditional ways of biodiversity management, more over to rewilding approaches and rewilding enterprise development. This can be seen in the reserves, where on one hand trees were being planted until recently, while on the other hand large herbivores are being introduced and nature tourism development is encouraged.

Rewilding

  • Land stewardship agreements at different levels with more than 6 000 hectares signed (2 852 ha with management rights and 3 471 ha without).
  • Agreement signed with the Taurus Foundation to begin breeding of Tauros in Faia Brava and Campanarios de Azaba, starting with two cow breeds, Sayaguesa and Maronesa.
  • Rabbit breeding sites improved through restocking of rabbits and grazing with cows and horses, which improve the vegetation conditions for the rabbit grazing (to stimulate the rebuilding of the population of this keystone species, and also as a prey source for future re-introduction of Iberian lynx).
  • In Faia Brava, 400 ha of no-hunting area agreed with hunting association, and the reserve extended with purchase of 200 ha. A further 500 ha will become part of the reserve after an agreement with Côa valley archeological park. A total of 1 100 hectares now under control.
  • Signed agreement with University of Aveiro for feasibility studies on reintroduction of red deer, Iberian ibex and roe deer in the Côa Valley.

    Retuerta horse release in Western Iberia, 7 Oct 2013.

    Iva Tontcheva / Rewilding Europe

  • A total of 47 Retuerta horses, 7 Garrano horses, 6 Sayaguesa cows and 7 Maronesa cows acquired and released, to bring back natural grazing in the two reserves (including partial fencing and de-fencing measures).
  • FNYH and ATN  work on a new LIFE project approved for the period 2013 to 2017. Several of the activities match with the rewilding initiative, in Campanarios and Faia Brava, including rewilding agreements with the owners of a number of private properties.

Enterprise

  • Three new wildlife-watching hides are now in operation in Campanarios at the vulture-feeding place and at a water hole. Contract signed with AEFONA (Spanish Association of Nature photographers) to market and promote these hides.
  • Agreement with 10 tourism companies to advertise nature activities in Faia Brava.
  • One of the two first of loans of Rewilding Europe Capital was received by the excellent Casa Cisterna guesthouse in the Portuguese part of  the Western Iberia rewilding area. A loan was issued to complete an extension to this boutique-style bed and breakfast, that also provides guiding services to the Faia Brava nature reserve and the amazing rock carvings of the Côa Valley, a priority area for Rewilding Europe.
  • The construction of a comfortable guesthouse/lodge (8 beds) and also of a biological station/visitor centre completed in the Campanarios reserve.
  • The ”Faia Brava Rock Camp” business plan finalised, looking for potential partners to develop it.
  • Development of enterprise ideas and business plans supported by the central enterprise team.

    Observation exercise in Celorica da Beira (Portugal).

    Judith Jobse

  • The Campanarios guesthouse, the wildlife breeding centre and the wildlife watching hides, figure in the Campanarios de Azaba Business Plan and Hacienda Campanarios Business plan, both already finalised.
  •  Observation exercise in Celorica da Beira (Portugal).
  • An Erasmus Nature entrepreneurship programme was carried out in Western Iberia, with great success in the two editions (2013 and 2014).

Communication

  •  A TV show about the Western Iberia rewilding area was produced and broadcasted in the Dutch Postcode Lottery programme in The Netherlands.
  • Communication materials and tools developed including translation of the Rewilding Europe brochure, Facebook page etc. (Spanish and Portuguese)
  • Strong media work with Spanish language media during the outdoor exhibition in Madrid in 2012, and during wildlife releases during 2012-2013.
  • Active participation in the Rewilding Iberia seminar in Madrid in December 2012 which was very successful.
  • Continued communication and engangement with a variety of local stakeholders, landowners, authorities and others.
  • The success of the Western Iberia rewilding area became a showcase in the documentary “Rewilding Europe – the case of Western Iberia” (Wageningen University and I camera you production).
  • The Western Iberia rewilding initiative was presented to the “Iberian Wolf seminar” in Almeida, Portugal and SPPF (Portuguese society of pasture land) spring meeting.
  • WILD 10, the World Wilderness Congress, was carried out in Salamanca which brought strong attention to Western Iberia from Spanish, Portuguese and other European media. 60 delegates from WILD 10 also witnessed the release of the second herd Retuertas horses spending a full day in the reserve, seeing also hundreds of griffon vultures, black vultures, black kites and red kites.