Interview with João Cosme, director of the documentary “Rewilding, a new path for nature in Portugal”

June 11, 2022

João Cosme, renowned photographer and nature director, was responsible for all the footage in the documentary released by Rewilding Portugal at the end of 2020. An important ally in the transmission of the organization’s work abroad, as well as an ambassador of all the magnificence of the Portuguese natural heritage.

How did your passion for nature photography and video come about? What led you to pursue this career?

From a very early age, as a child, I watched the documentaries of “Man and the Earth” by the Spaniard Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente with my father. It was without a doubt my biggest inspiration, but I have always had a passion for wild animals. My interest has become more and more a dream, to work in nature conservation, to promote and sensitize a public that is still unaware of and devalues the importance of other species. One of the ways, was photography, to show all the beauty of other living beings and, what I started as a hobby, became my profession.

The partnership with Rewilding Portugal in the development of various photography and video materials has been growing over time. How do you see this partnership and what do you think of the rewilding approach?

At the moment, it is a gratifying experience to follow the work of Rewilding Portugal in several projects. Undoubtedly, it is something different, with another concept, a constant challenge for me, which makes this partnership more and more valuable on several levels. The different way you act on the ground, valuing and being close to the people who live in the countryside. I think that this is the only way to “educate” and show that nature conservation is an essential good for the whole of society. There is still a long way to go, but there is no doubt that Rewilding Portugal is doing something different in the field.

The documentary required a lot of time on the ground and an in-depth knowledge of the Greater Côa Valley. How was that experience? What did you find most fascinating about all those months in the field?

Any work in this area requires good planning, knowing the area, the species and a lot of dedication. The Greater Côa Valley I already knew quite well, it is a region that I explore very regularly. Obviously, this is a great advantage, but every day we discover new places, each season of the year has its beauty and the Côa is always surprising. For me, the most fascinating thing is the hugeness of the still wild valley and the cliff breeding species associated with it.

In addition to this partnership, what do you think have been your greatest works and projects in your career so far?

I have a few that have been satisfying so far. Perhaps the work I developed with the Iberian wolf was something motivating, due to the species and the symbolism it has in our country. But I have others, for example my last book “Mountain Rivers – In the Domains of the White-throated dipper “, which was a photographic work developed in the more mountainous regions of the center of Portugal, where for several years I followed this peculiar species. I had the opportunity to collaborate with one of the best European nature documentary directors, the Spaniard Joaquin Gutierrez Acha. It was in the production of the film “Dehesa el Bosque del Lince Ibérico” and it was a rewarding and unique experience.

What are the dreams and big projects that you still want to fulfil?

They are immense, but most of them are nothing more than ideas, planning, etc. One of the great projects I would love to carry out would be to show the wild beauty of the Côa Valley. The dimension it has, the wild part, the species, is something fascinating about this territory. Douro International is another great objective. Another one that I am currently developing is about Natural Viseu, showing that in urban areas there is an incredible, unknown biodiversity and that image can and should be a vehicle for its promotion. There are many ideas, but this area is not valued, and it is always difficult to get the necessary support.

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