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Preparing a New Generation of Wilderness Entrepreneurs Lessons from the Erasmus Intensive Programme 'European Wilderness Entrepreneurship' 2013

Judith C. Jobse, Loes Witteveen, Judith Santegoets and Derk Jan Stobbelaar

Abstract This chapter discusses the role of education in the preparation of the next generation of entrepreneurs in nature conservation. Departing from the traditional conservation education, which emphasizes ecological management, the chapter is a plea for incorporating entrepreneurship in the curricula of educational programmes on rewilding ecosystems. An Erasmus Intensive Programme on European Wilderness Entrepreneurship is presented as a case study. A set of competences is defined and operationalized based on the evaluation of the first edition of the programme undertaken in Rewilding Europe's pilot area in Western Iberia. Aspects of the learning strategies and learning environment are presented and reviewed. The conclusion of this chapter is that to learn wilderness entrepreneurship competences, an environment should be created in which students, teachers and stakeholder co-learn at the boundaries of their comfort zones.

Keywords Entrepreneurship • Education • Competences • Learning strategies • Erasmus Intensive Programme • Western Iberia

Introduction

Ever since the creation of national parks and other large-scale nature conservation efforts, the principal objectives of conservation, science, and recreation are bound together in an ever-changing interrelated triangle. Their dependencies, benefits and tensions are in a constant flow, often defined by financial contexts (Kupper 2009). This is also discernible in the current European situation of dwindling subsidies and uncertain finances for nature conservation, which calls for conservation activities that generate revenues to achieve economically sustainable conservation. Several actors in European wilderness conservation are adopting conservation strategies that aim to achieve economic sustainability. For instance, Rewilding Europe included wilderness-based entrepreneurship in their main objectives (see Chap. 9), and the NGO Wild Europe (wildeurope.org) launched an economic benefits group in 2013 to stimulate “a new breed of wilderness warrior”. Due to the rise of these new European wide conservation initiatives there is a need to train students and professionals in wilderness entrepreneurship.

Nature conservationists are traditionally not trained in entrepreneurship and business development as it is often assumed that professions related to nature conservation are principally guided by ecological and sustainable principles. Those fields therefore define the educational design of nature conservation curricula. This chapter describes an exploration into this new field of education in the context of rewilding European abandoned agricultural land.

 
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