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One of the biggest initiatives working to maintain natural ecosystems, repair environmental damage and reintroduce lost species is Rewilding Europe. They’ve been on the front line of the movement since 2011, and have noticed a growing recent interest in their work across eight regions on the continent.
“An ever-growing number of rewilding initiatives are gaining momentum and delivering results across Europe,” says the organisation’s Laurien Holtjer, who also points to the projects’ socio-economic benefits, as well as environmental. “Through our work in pilot areas, we’ve shown that restoring nature and bringing back wildlife can create fantastic new business opportunities, jobs and income for local communities.”
Incorporating rewilding into a trip isn’t just an important way to support ecoystems – it can be the adventure of a lifetime, whether that means tracking wolves, spying on bears or totting up the numbers of wild cats. These five adventures across Europe give the opportunity to have both.
Wolf packs once roamed Europe, but were hunted to the brink of extinction. By the end of the 1960s, only 100 or so wolves were left, confined to the the mountains of Italy. Over the past few decades, spontaneous recolonisation has seen the population grow – and today there are around seven or eight wolf packs in Abruzzo National Park.
This rewilding experience gives you the chance to follow the pack on foot. By day you hike along the unspoiled paths of the Apennine Mountains, learning all about wolves from your expert local guide and stopping in small villages for rustic meals.
At night, watch the stars while listening to the eerie sound of the wolves howling in the distance. As well as the chance to hear – and maybe see – wild wolves, you’re also likely to spot other rare creatures like chamois, deer, golden eagles and the Marsican brown bear.
Rewilding Europe and WWF Romania got together to bring bison back to the Southern Carpathians in 2014, after the animals had been extinct from the region for 200 years. At the time it was the biggest reintroduction of the animals in Europe. Six years later, there are more than 50 of the shy, elusive and surprisingly fast-moving creatures, roaming free in the Tarcu area.
On this small-group tour you get the chance to see these majestic creatures in person. The expert guide – who has been involved with the project from the start – will take your group on a four to five hour hike through the foothills.
As you hike, you’ll get to learn about the habits of bison, the importance they have in the area and how to identify their tracks on the muddy mountain paths. Not to mention the chance to explore the vast, rugged and wild tracks of Romania’s mountains.
On the border between Germany and Poland, the Oder Delta is one of the most exciting ecological crossroads in Europe and a major stop for migrating waterbirds on the East Atlantic Flyway. Over the past few decades, rewilding has taken hold as farmers have left the area for new pastures. Now, it’s a huge breeding ground for the white-tailed eagle and the populations of beavers, salmon and otters are rising.
This tour involves two half-day excursions into the unspoiled landscape of the River Delta, by canoe and on foot. A sunrise boat tour operated by the hotel makes early starts more appealing. As well as meeting the local wildlife, you’ll also see the ruins of Slavic castles, village churches and monasteries, many of which are already being reclaimed by nature. A roaring log fire at the hotel is the perfect place to sit around and chat about the days adventures.
Excerpt from the Skyscanner blog, by Jemma Porter. 29 february 2020.
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