Making it real
At the initial stage, work is now planned to increase wildlife numbers by decreasing the hunting pressure, influencing national policy and through field activities in close collaboration with local entrepreneurs, the hunters’ community, academic institutions and the national government.
Wildlife watching is already seen as a potential new economic alternative to the often low profitability in hunting. The Balkan chamois is a symbolic species for the area, which was reintroduced by hunters in the 1970s, and is now faring relatively well, but is still quite sparsely distributed across the whole Velebit range. Among the activities planned is a re-stocking of the Balkan chamois to the two national parks and the establishment of large no-take zones. Further studies of the historical distribution of the other grazing mammal species will reveal opportunities for reintroductions of the missing species, like the ibex.
Uniquely large and suitable areas for vast natural grazing systems exist within Velebit, as well as to the east of it, and herds of Tauros and horses will be introduced.
Local partners are formulating a wider development vision based on wild values. 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 jeopardizing the wilderness values. The legal and policy situation for rewilding in Croatia will be further analysed, as will the opportunities for creating one of Central Europe’s largest wilderness areas, connecting Velebit with western Bosnia-Herzegovina.