Rewilding Is Redefining Nature & Adventure Travel

Climate crisis and wildlife extinction are part of the nature and adventure travel conversation, but fortunately, so is “re-living”. Nature healing itself and returning to its pristine state is at the heart of this movement. So are visionary companies like Rewilding Europe Travel, whose message is to make Europe a wilder place. Far from just talking, the company takes active travelers on adventures in Europe, where surrounding activities take center stage. To dig deeper into the movement, I caught up with one of the leaders, Neil Rogers, Experience Director and Founder of Europe Travel Reorganization.

Everett Potter: “Rewilding” is a term that has come out of nowhere on social media. But I think you’re not sure what that means. Can you explain more?

Neil Rogers: Reintroduction is often thought to focus on the recovery of lost species such as wolves and lynx. In reality, restoration is more holistic, allowing nature to be cared for, allowing natural processes to shape land and sea, repair damaged ecosystems, and restore degraded landscapes.

However, sometimes nature needs a helping hand to create the right conditions, such as removing dams, reducing active management, or reintroducing key native species. Re-creation is about connecting people to the wild. If nature is healthy, we are also healthy.

EP: What is Bona’s sincere retreat?

NR: At Rewilding Europe Travel, it’s a great place where we can offer great experiences that include nature-based culture, community engagement, local cuisine, and the essence of rewilding landscapes. Rewinding experiences are important, but so is good local wine shared with enthusiastic hosts.

EP: In your press materials, you mention “rebuilding corridors” and “rebuilding landscapes.” Can you elaborate on what these are?

RW: Landscape regeneration is a pioneering initiative that takes restoration at scale and has long-term benefits for people and wildlife.

A good way to explain what they are and how they are connected is the “Bear-Smart Corridor” initiative to restore the landscape of the Central Apennines in Italy. Just 90 minutes from Rome, the landscape of the Central Apennines is a true biodiversity “hotspot” home to Marsician brown bears, gray wolves, Apennine marten, red deer, golden eagles, vultures and endemic species.

The Bear-Smart Corridor Initiative focuses on a network of critical corridors connecting five protected areas. Currently, 60 marsian brown bears roam the Central Apennines. They are relatively safe in protected areas, but outside they are at risk of poaching, poisoning, and road accidents. With such a small and precarious population, it is vital that they can roam safely and ensure genetic exchange. Rewilding Apennines has developed quadruple capture corridors in collaboration with local communities to mitigate bear conflicts and provide economic incentives to protect their bears.

“My Neighbor is a Bear” is a great video about the intelligent community of bears in the Central Apennines.

EP: How do you recreate the itinerary at its core?

NR: Our itineraries explore living landscapes and focus on heritage, culture, local cuisine, wildlife and, of course, restoration efforts. We want to meet people and hear their stories, but we also want to get out into the wild and see amazing wildlife.

People and their communities are always at the heart of success, so we start there with the help of local rehabilitation teams. So we start planning together with the local restoration team and our local and environmental liaisons. They know everyone, monitor wildlife and support local producers and tourism enterprises.

EP: Europe seems to be the core of the Rewilding movement. Because it’s had centuries of growth and now seems like a good time to revisit that “progress”?

NR: Europe, like the rest of the world, is suffering from environmental degradation and biodiversity loss, so it is not enough to slow down and stop climate change.

There are more than 100,000 protected areas in 54 countries in Europe. Europe has more places than any other region of the world. However, much of Europe’s protected areas are part of degraded land that cannot support growing wildlife populations or fully functioning ecosystems.

Faced with the twin threats of climate change and biodiversity loss, many in Europe are waking up to the urgent need to restore Europe’s nature, and a good place to start is by rewilding existing protected areas such as National Parks.

The European Green Deal shows that Europe is listening and hopes that rebuilding with greater interest and support from the financial sector, humanitarian instincts and corporations will focus minds on the importance of wildlife and the ecosystem services it provides.

EP: Can you name a few places that you would like to see restored?

NR: I have spent almost 35 years working in the tourism industry and promoting conservation in Belize, and I would like to expand my restoration work to Central America. With the help of The Nature Conservancy and its partners, Belize has done an amazing job of saving and protecting key conservation corridors in the 37 million acre Selva Maya. By securing these important land corridors, Belize has increased its total protected area to almost 40%. I would like to see this scale of forest conservation and protection implemented across Central America, where restoration plays a key role in land degradation and biodiversity loss.

I was recently invited to Lebanon to assist in the evaluation of a USAID project to support tourism cluster development. As part of my trip, I participated in the resettlement of the Nubian Egret in the Shouf Biosphere Reserve. Shouf Biosphere Reserve is the last wild place in Lebanon and I would like to see the reintroduction of other endangered species if funding is available.

I was really inspired by the work of Tompkins Conservation in Chile and Argentina. They have protected more than 14 million acres of land and 30 million acres of marine habitat, established and expanded 15 national parks and two Marine National Parks. To date they have reintroduced 13 species and I would love to see them continue to restore these amazing landscapes.

EP: How big is your tour, approximate cost, and what’s next in terms of destinations?

NR: Most of our tours are limited to 8 people, but some can be up to 12. There is also a “Private” option that allows customers to put together small groups of 4, 6, or 8 people. .

Most of our small group tours range from £250 to £350 ($285 to $400) per day, sharing a double or twin room, on a 7-night, 8-day itinerary.

The big news at European Rewilding this month was the unveiling of the 2.1 million acre Iberian Highlands 10x Rewilding Landscape in Spain. Located just two hours east of Madrid, it is a vast and wild landscape dominated by steep canyons and valleys of oaks, pines and junipers. Half the population has left the landscape, but wildlife is already making a comeback. Wild boar, Iberian ibex, deer and mouflon are already present. Cattle (backcountry cattle that act as aurochs) and semi-wild horses have already been introduced. I will be heading to the Alto Tajo region later this month to plan my new trip to the Iberian highlands starting in Spring 2023.

Visit Rewilding Europe Travel.


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