A Future Outlook for Rewilding Europe
Rewilding Europe has presented a compelling vision about the historic opportunities that Europe is facing, and how we could make this a reality. With a mediaoutreach of more than 100 million people in the two first years, the initiative seems to capture the imagination of many Europeans (Schepers and Widstrand 2012). Support was received from all strands of society: local communities and governments, landowners, hunters, scientists, NGOs, EU Parliamentarians, local entrepreneurs and top business people. Practical work is starting: the first releases of key species, wildlife tourism developments, and small legal achievements. Nonetheless, most of the work is still in a stage of studying or negotiation with stakeholders. Between vision and practice there is a lot to do, and which needs a lot of support. The coming years will prove if Rewilding Europe can bridge the gap between vision and practice. 'Making it real' is therefore the slogan for the coming years.
Key for a successful continuation of the programme is a prosperous start of the several large scale projects that are on the way, such as the first European community conservancy in the Danube Delta (26,000 ha) and some agreements on better hunting practices in Velebit and Western Iberia, on a scale of tens of thousands of hectares, proving that the scale that Rewilding Europe is pursuing is not unrealistic. Just as important is a successful start up of some serious rewilding enterprises with a consistent spin-off, such as the European Safari Company and related enterprises in the rewilding areas, showing that an alternative rural economy can really be build in abandoned areas. Furthermore a careful selection of the next four pilot areas (completing the 'Rewilding 10 of Europe' objective in 2014) will help the initiative to illustrate that opportunities for rewilding exist in every corner of Europe.
Finally it's crucial to build on a strong relation between the local teams that do most of the work, and a central team that facilitates them in their rewilding, communication and enterprise activities. Rewilding Europe believes that real change can only come from ownership and leadership of those organizations and entities that nominated their areas to become part of the wider initiative.
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