Correspondent: Daniel Ingram
This week our inspiration comes from Eastern Europe, who are paving the way for setting up exciting and ambitious rewilding initiatives.
Rhodope Mountains Rewilding Initiative, Bulgaria
Our first example comes from the Rhodope Mountains Rewilding Initiative (2015-2019), part of the Rewilding Europe and Rewilding Rhodope Initiative, now supported by Foundation Segré. The Rhodope Mountains are one of the most biodiverse regions in Europe, and are home to a variety of species including grey wolves (Canis lupus), brown bears (Ursus arctos), vultures (including the threatened black vulture, Aegypius monachus, and the endangered Egyptian Vulture, Neophron percnopterus) and European ground squirrels (Spermophilus citellus). The aim is to let these mountain ecosystems be driven by natural processes such as scavenging and natural grazing, supporting natural populations of these native species.
Previous rewilding efforts in the region have successfully reintroduced and restocked populations of red (Cervus elaphus) and fallow deer (Dama dama), among others species.
Top star: Romanian Făgăraș Mountains
Bottom star: Bulgarian Rhodope Mountains
Rewilding the Făgăraș Mountains, Romania
Heralded to be the ‘European Yellowstone’, a huge conservation initiative in the Carpathian Mountains in Bulgaria aims to protect 500,000 acres of wilderness. Home to some of Europe’s largest old growth forests and a hotspot to Europe’s ‘Big Three’ predators, Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), grey wolf, brown bear, you can see why this is an important area to protect.
Currently many of the lower slopes of the Făgăraș Mountains, in the southern part of the Carpathians, are covered with spruce plantations. As well as trying to thin the plantations and plant native tree species, the project will largely allow nature to take over.
The Foundation Conservation Carpathia (FCC) is a not-for-profit organisation who backs this initiative, who have so far bought 40,000 acres of land at the cost of €45 million to support the project. Eventually the project will be donated to the public.
We hope these endeavours inspire future efforts, helping the world to remain wild-at-heart.