Rewilding is redefining nature and adventure travel | Tech US News

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The climate crisis and the extinction of wildlife are part of the dialogue of nature and adventure travel, but fortunately so is “wild”. Letting nature heal itself and return to a pristine state is at the heart of this movement. So are visionary companies like Rewilding Europe Travel, whose message is “Making Europe a Wilder Place”. Far from just talking, the company takes active travelers on adventures in Europe, where the wilderness takes center stage. I caught up with one of the mainstays, Neil Rogers, co-founder and director of experiences at Rewilding Europe Travel, to dig deeper into the movement.

Everett Potter: “Rewilding” is a term that is suddenly all over social media. But I think there is some confusion about what it means. Can you explain more?

Neil Rogers: Often the view of rewilding is that it focuses on restoring lost species, often apex predators like wolves or bobcats. In reality, reforestation is more holistic and involves letting nature take care of itself, allowing natural processes to shape land and sea, repair damaged ecosystems and restore degraded landscapes.

However, sometimes nature needs a hand to create the right conditions, such as removing dams, reducing active management and reintroducing key native species. Wild recovery is also about connecting people with wilder nature. When nature is healthy, so are we.

EP: What is a bona fide real destination?

NR: For Rewilding Europe Travel, a bona fide rewilding destination is a place where we can offer immersive nature-based experiences that include culture, community engagement, local cuisine and the nature of a wild landscape. Wild experiences are important, but so is good local wine shared with enthusiastic hosts.

EP: You mention “wild corridors” and “wild landscapes” in your press materials. Can you explain what they are?

RW: Rewilding landscapes are emblematic initiatives where rewilding is happening at scale and where people and wildlife will benefit in the long term.

A good way to describe what they are and how they are connected is through the reforestation initiative “Bear-Smart Corridors” which is being implemented in the reforestation landscape of the central Apennines in Italy. The wild landscape of the Central Apennines, just 90 minutes from Rome, is a true ‘hotspot’ of biodiversity, home to the Marsican brown bear, the gray wolf, the Apennine chamois, the red deer, the golden eagle, the vultures and a surprising set of endemics.

The Bear-Smart Corridor initiative focuses on a network of critical corridors linking five protected areas. There are currently 60 Marsican brown bears roaming the Central Apennines. They are relatively safe in protected areas, but outside they have traditionally been at risk of poaching, poisoning and traffic collisions. With such a small and precarious population, it is vital that they can roam safely and ensure genetic exchange. Rewilding Apennines has developed four rewilding corridors in partnership with local communities to mitigate bear conflict and give residents financial incentives to protect their bears.

“My neighbor is a bear” is a fantastic video about an intelligent community of bears in the Central Apennines.

EP: How do you create a travel itinerary with wilderness at its core?

NR: Our itineraries explore living landscapes and focus on heritage, culture, local cuisine, wildlife and, of course, recovery efforts. We want to meet people and hear their stories, but we also want to enjoy walking through wild landscapes and watching spectacular wildlife.

People and their communities are always at the core of reforestation success, so we start there with the help of local reforestation teams. So we started planning with the local reforestation teams, our connectors with the local community and the environment. They meet everyone, monitor wildlife and support local producers and tourism businesses.

EP: Europe seems to be at the heart of the Rewilding movement. Is this because it has had centuries of growth, and now seems like a good time to rethink that “progress”?

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

There are more than 100,000 protected areas in Europe, distributed in 54 countries. Europe has more of these areas than any other region in the world. However, most of Europe’s protected areas are part of a degraded landscape that cannot support thriving wildlife populations or fully functioning ecosystems.

With the twin threats of climate change and biodiversity loss, many in Europe are waking up to the idea that we urgently need to reclaim European nature, and a good starting point for this would be to make existing protected areas such as National Parks wilder .

The European Green Deal indicates that Europe is listening, and we hope that wildlife recovery, with greater interest and support from the financial sector, philanthropic minds and corporations, can focus minds on the importance of wildlife and the ecosystem services it provides.

EP: Can you name some destinations where you would like to see wildlife?

NR: I have been working in tourism and supporting conservation in Belize for almost 35 years and I would love to see wildlife expanded in Central America. Belize, with the help of The Nature Conservancy and its partners, has done incredible work to save and protect key conservation corridors in the 37 million acre Maya Rainforest. Securing these critical land corridors means Belize has increased its total protected land area to almost 40%. I would love to see this scale of forest conservation and protection replicated throughout Central America, with reforestation playing a key role where land degradation and biodiversity loss has been extensive.

I was recently invited to Lebanon to help evaluate a USAID project that supports the development of tourism clusters. As part of my trip, I was involved in the relocation of the Nubian ibex to the Shouf Biosphere Reserve. The Shouf Biosphere Reserve is the last truly wild place in Lebanon, and if financial support is available, I would like to see other native species that have become extinct reintroduced.

Tompkins Conservation’s work in Chile and Argentina has been truly inspiring to me. They have created or expanded 15 national parks and two marine national parks, protecting more than 14 million acres of land and 30 million acres of marine habitat. To date, 13 species have been reintroduced, and I would like to see the continued recovery of these fantastic landscapes.

EP: How much are your trips, approximate costs and what’s next in terms of destinations?

NR: Most of our trips have a limit of 8 people, although some can go up to 12. We also have a ‘Make Private’ option which allows customers to form their own small groups of 4, 6 or 8 people. .

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

This month, Rewilding Europe’s big news was the launch of its 10th Rewilding Landscape, the 2.1 million hectare Rewilding Landscape of Terra Ibérica in Spain. It is located just two hours east of Madrid and is a vast and wild landscape dominated by steep canyons and valleys of oaks, pines and junipers. Half the population had left the landscape, but the wildlife has already started to return. Wild boars, Iberian goats, deer and mouflons are already present. Bulls (back cattle that play the role of aurochs) and semi-wild horses have already been reintroduced. I will be traveling to the Alto Tagus region later this month to plan our new trips to the Iberian Lands starting in spring 2023.

Visit Rewilding Europe Travel.

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