Entrevista com Ana Varela, aliada importante na nossa missão

November 23, 2023

A nationally recognized actress, Ana Varela spent the last year in the Greater Côa Valley with her colleague and actress Sara Prata, so that together they could get to know the region and Rewilding Portugal’s work in it. She immediately fell in love with what she saw and it’s been a bond that has grown closer and will have a very important new chapter next year: Ana will be the voice-over for the new documentary we have in production. In the meantime, she has already returned this year with her family.


How did you get to know Rewilding Portugal and what made you become interested in the organization and its work?

I first came across Rewilding Portugal at “Circular 2021”, a Reboot project based on four pillars (Materials, Energy, Nature and Transport) and Pedro Prata, Director of Rewilding Portugal, presented this project of nature preservation and I was very interested in this new concept (I confess it was the first time I heard about it) of ecosystem rewilding. We exchanged contacts and the curiosity to get to know this project more closely persisted, and if there is one thing I enjoy, it is getting to know projects from the inside, the work on the ground and seeing the impacts and transformations they bring about. And this is what happened and what I experienced later when I visited the project on the ground.

In the meantime, you had the opportunity to get to know “in loco” the Greater Côa Valley and the work that Rewilding Portugal has been developing in recent years. How was the experience? What excited you the most?

First, the whole idea of going on an adventure and getting to know the work of the organization. I went with Sara Prata (my colleague, friend, and sister), full of a desire to discover and learn. And second, because we did it almost as tourists, we went in a “show us what is happening here and the work you are doing” mode. It was very interesting because we witnessed the release of the Sorraia horses in a semi-wild state and realized the role that these large herbivores have in rewilding these spaces – but it was not only the beauty of that moment and the surroundings, it was also very beautiful to watch the whole social involvement of the local community and the Rewilding team in this project. And that was what stayed with me the most, the union that is being achieved with the great goal of preserving the landscapes of that region. This union is very beautiful, and this was exactly what excited me the most. Man, when he wants to, can unite to produce positive changes in ecosystems, in this case in the Greate Côa Valley.



You also had the opportunity to cross paths and enjoy the services and products of several partners of the Wild Côa Network. What do you think about this tourism project around rewilding? Do you think that this type of differentiated tourist offers, based on the preservation of natural heritage, have a place in the current panorama?

I find the synergy that is being achieved very interesting. Small brands, when they want to launch themselves in the market, face great difficulties penetrating markets, great competition, unfair competition against more muscular companies… I think that linking this tourism more connected to nature, based on a value chain that has the mission to preserve and not only the pure obtaining of income, that takes advantage of it but preserves it, makes a lot of sense. For instance, the synergy between producers and Rewilding Portugal, like Matreira and Flor Alta, from which I was able to try several products. They are local products, a showcase of what is made in the region and nowadays when you want to know a specific city, you want to know and taste what is made there and in what way. The fact that Rewilding is bringing all these partners together will make them stronger and more united. A synergy that I think, when the tourist gets it, is very beautiful and has a lot of power. It has all the place in the current landscape, it should be supported. Without this network maybe these local producers would not have as much visibility as they have now. Products and, of course, services.


As a recognized figure in the world of television/cinema, as well as a digital influencer, especially in sustainability and the environment, what do you think is the importance that this kind of role has in helping nature conservation projects? How do you see yourself in this mission of making these projects and organizations known? How did this passion of yours for natural heritage and this cause come about?

I think that if there is any impact I can have, it is to amplify the projects I talk about, and because of this I am always very careful about which projects I choose to amplify. That is why it makes as much sense to know the projects I talk about from the inside as it does to know the work of Rewilding, so that when I amplify it and share it with my community, I can be sure that it is worthy of that amplification. What I wish the most is that my role could give, and I am sure it does, fruits and results so that this noble work and these synergies that are so important for the environmental and social regeneration of these regions can happen. The fact that I was born in the countryside and am the granddaughter of farmers and people linked to agricultural production, who worked directly with the land, the soil, the wind, the rain… helped a lot in the sense that I know how important it is to preserve nature to also be able to enjoy it, something that I think in this society is a little forgotten. We forget that to be sustained by nature we must take care of it, and a lot comes from that, from my past connected to the land, and from seeing this current panorama in which I see that the focus is not on preserving what sustains us, and that this is not right. We have to be very grateful to this planet that sustains us and this gratitude has to be manifested by respect and care, we have to go back there: to respect the cycles of life, the cycles of nature and realize that our species can only continue if we re-enter this recognition of the great power of nature and how much we need it.



In the meantime, you were invited to be the voice-off for Rewilding Portugal’s new documentary, currently being produced and which will be aired in 2024. Was it an immediate yes? Are you excited about this new experience?

It was an immediate yes! The fact that I already know Rewilding and have been on the ground with you, “in your house”, with the people you work directly with, your team, your partners, seeing the results on the ground of rewilding, makes me wear the Rewilding Portugal t-shirt completely and when you invited me to be the voice of the new documentary it was a privilege and of course yes, I want to be a part of it! First because of this connection we have and then because while I am narrating, I am sure I will learn a thousand more things because of your work and your experience on the ground. I see this not only as a privilege, but another opportunity to learn more things.  I am always available to learn and know what is happening. I will be proud to use my voice to pass on the message about what Rewilding Portugal has been doing these past years and what is being achieved, I am proud!


What inspires you most in this approach to rewilding?

I see more and more and with great regret this disconnection of human beings with the cycles of nature. Nowadays, to talk about this is even kind of hippie, when in reality it is our DNA, our basis, our genesis. We all live in concrete boxes in overcrowded, ugly, closed cities, and most of our children do not even know where the vegetables or fruits come from, what we eat… And it saddens me. This rewilding approach wants to give nature back the time and space to regenerate itself, recognizing the wisdom of nature itself. And that is what fascinates me the most. If we give nature space right now, and we have had examples of this even during the pandemic when we removed the human element from certain spaces and environments, it can regenerate itself, not least because its power is immense. This rewilding approach is based on that respect for nature and its space and time to heal itself. It believes in the mastery of nature, and I also believe very much in the same. This approach, this knowledge, makes perfect sense to me, and that is why it inspires me, and that is why it makes a lot of sense for me to be with you.


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