Western Iberia

Ancient Mediterranean landscapes

A yet relatively unknown place in Portugal near to the border with Spain, with amazing birdlife, home to one of Portugal’s most important, large, independent nature reserve – Faia Brava. An area where wild nature and wildlife is coming back.

Mediterranean summer bloom, Faia Brava reserve, Coa valley, Portugal, Western Iberia rewilding area

Mediterranean summer bloom, Faia Brava reserve, Coa valley, Portugal, Western Iberia rewilding area
Staffan Widstrand / Rewilding Europe

 

The river gorges, oak forests, rocky heathlands and scattered crops constitute a spectacular mix in the Côa valley, between Douro river and Malcata range. The abandonment of a big part of the old crop land has brought a new opportunity for the comeback of wildlife.

The rabbit is one of the important species in the area. A herbivore as well, very small, but due to its numbers, with a large impact on the vegetation, but also completely dependant on the larger-bodied colleagues cleaning up the bush and letting the short grasses survive, which the rabbit feeds upon. The rabbit in its turn is a dominant food source for a host of predators – both four-legged and those on the wing.

Egyptian mongoose, Common genet, beech marten, polecats, wild cat, fox, and birds like the Iberian imperial eagle, booted eagle, red kite, black kite, golden eagle, eagle owl and Bonelli’s eagle. The bird life is very well represented, with endangered rarities like black vulture and black stork, as well as species like azure-winged magpie, lesser kestrel and short-toed eagle. But the large wild mammals, among them the critically endangered Iberian lynx, are almost all still gone and even the rabbit is having a hard time. The roe deer is coming back on their own accord and the first sightings of Iberian wolf have been made recently.

“The development of wild nature is an opportunity for a new economy, at the same time as it enriches the ecological base and provides new ethical and educational values.”

António Monteiro, Associação Transumância e Natureza (ATN), Portugal