Campanarios de Azaba Biological Reserve, Salamanca, Castilla y Leon, Spain

Vision and objectives

The two local organizations work hard on creating attractive ‘models’ of how rewilded areas could function here, using four core areas – Campanarios de Azaba (owned by FNYH) and Riscos del Águeda (community owned property, managed by FNYH) in Spain, and the Faia Brava reserve (owned by ATN), and Tajo Internacional in Portugal. The approach includes purchasing important core areas, reintroducing missing species to create natural grazing systems, promotion of the natural return of iconic and ecologically important species such as Iberian lynx, and enhancing the conditions for the rabbit – a key element in the ecological systems of the Iberian Peninsula. For the natural grazing regimes, red deer, Iberian Ibex, primitive horses and cattle adapted to the local situation will be reintroduced. The Sayaguesa cattle breed will serve as founder together with some other Mediterranean races in the TaurOs Programme, to breed-back an animal that as closely as possible resembles the original wild bovine species, the Aurochs. The breeding facility is based on the partnership between Rewilding Europe and the Taurus Foundation.

The region also boasts the largest open-air Palaeolithic art site in Europe, if not in the world, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The motifs of the earliest engravings (40,000–10,000 BC) are mostly ibex, wild horses, aurochs and red deer, which indicate the crucial importance of these animals in bringing back the natural heritage of the landscapes here.

A Rewilding Europe centre for Western Iberia will be created in Campanarios de Azaba. Opportunities for creating new economic models based on wild nature will be tested in both Portugal and Spain in collaboration with land owners. Eco-tourism promotion, education and communications are other essential elements.