Promoting a wilder nature

Promoting a wilder nature

Rewilding

Making Portugal a wilder place

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Juan Carlos Muños Robredo / Rewilding Europe

Rewilding

Making Portugal a wilder place

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Scaling Up Rewilding in Western Iberia

Reinforcing a 120,000-hectare wildlife corridor

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JUAN CARLOS MUÑOZ ROBREDO

Scaling Up Rewilding in Western Iberia

Reinforcing a 120,000-hectare wildlife corridor

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LIFE Wolflux

Improving connectivity south of the Douro river

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LIFE Wolflux

Improving connectivity south of the Douro river

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Florian Möllers / Rewilding Europe

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Ancient dehesa, sierra and montado landscapes

Western Iberia is a cross-border area – it includes the Beira interior region in Portugal between the Douro and Tagus river,  and through the border with Spain to the provinces of Salamanca and Cáceres.

Western Iberia is ecologically connected to similar natural, wild areas in other parts of Iberia, through the Natura 2000 network. The first private protected area of Portugal is also found inside this area, namely the Faia Brava reserve.

On the poorer soils on granite bedrock, the landscape is dominated by very small land holdings that have had cultivation based on olives, almonds, and cereals – which are now increasingly being abandoned. Husbandry was traditionally based on sheep, which has now been replaced by extensive cattle in some areas.


Western Iberia’s rich and varied landscapes have become one of the most exciting wild areas of the Iberian Peninsula.

An area rich in biodiversity

Western Iberia’s rich and varied dehesa, montado and sierra landscapes, crossed by deep river valleys that straddle the border between Portugal and Spain, has become one of the most exciting wild areas of the Iberian Peninsula. Within Western Iberia there is a broad range of habitat types and endemic species. The river gorges, oak forests, rocky heathlands and scattered fields constitute a spectacular mix in the Côa Valley, between the Douro river and the Malcata mountain ranges.

Montados, mountain ranges and river gorges are popular with cliff loving animals such as vultures and eagles, together with river valleys inhabited by otters and pond turtles. The area is also home to some packs of Iberian wolf, a strictly protected species in Portugal whose range has seriously contracted since the 1970s. Red deer and roe deer, having also contracted in range, are now once again expanding into their previous ranges, thanks in large part to the high levels of land abandonment in the region.

Why Western Iberia?

In addition to the incredible natural values of the region, Western Iberia poses a unique opportunity for applying rewilding principles in the region due to the high levels of rural abandonment, which are some of the highest in Europe.

This opportunity can be explored by having a large-scale perspective of the landscape, working to improve the connectivity between natural areas while also supporting sustainable business models in the region which can stimulate local economies and bring additional value to local communities.

Rewilding Vision

In the long-term, we want Western Iberia to be a wilder place, with fully functioning coherent ecosystems and abundant wildlife. A place where natural processes and complete trophic chains play key roles in the regeneration of the landscape.

Already, wildlife has returned to parts of the rewilding area, with species such as the Iberian wolf, red deer and roe deer expanding their ranges in the area. Strengthening the wildlife corridor of the Côa Valley (120,000 hectares) is another important goal for the region. Finally, building a nature and culture-based economy to create communal support for a wilder environment in which natural processes and key wildlife shape the landscape is another.

What are we doing?

Iberian wolf (Canis lupus signatus)

LIFE WolFlux

Ensuring the viability of the Iberian wolf population south of the Douro river.

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Scaling up

Scaling up rewilding efforts in the Greater Côa Valley.

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