A 10-year vision

Making Western Iberia a wilder place. For the benefit of nature and people.

Western Iberia’s rich and varied Dehesa, Montado and Sierra landscapes, crossed by deep river valleys that straddle the border between Portugal and Spain, has become one of the most exciting wild areas of the Iberian Peninsula.

A large part of the landscape is now regulated mainly by ecological processes. Here wildlife thrives in natural densities and the previous very active land management has taken a clear step back towards non-management. In combination with some of the old local traditions, ways and products, this new wild dimension has created new sources of income and pride for the region’s inhabitants.

The unbroken ecological integrity of this vast Mediterranean ecosystem has been secured in this rewilding area in Portugal, while at the same time large parts of it have become much wilder than before. Core rewilding areas with no-take zones have been established, that are connected through wildlife corridors and surrounded by transition- and buffer zones, where people still use the landscape in relatively traditional, but more sustainable and wildlife friendly ways.

Western Iberia has not become a huge, unbroken wilderness area, but rather a much wilder version of the Dehesa/Montado habitat, containing several really wild zones where the full original native range of species is back in place. The management principle practiced in the core areas is based on allowing for the natural processes and letting nature manage itself to an as high degree as possible, through a gradual process from the former active management.

Western Iberia has attracted new, young people, for whom it provides business opportunities based on these wild values, local products and culture, thereby contributing to its future. The negative spiral of land abandonment, loss of biodiversity and diminishing local culture has turned into new prosperity, attracting and inspiring many visitors, also from far outside the region.

Western Iberia is ecologically connected to similar natural, wild areas in other parts of Western and Northern Iberia, through the Natura 2000 network, and the rewilding team actively works also with this connectivity.