Brands have been slowly moving towards more sustainable and environmentally conscious production. Wildling Shoes, based in Germany, already has a long history of this type of production and has now developed, in partnership with Rewilding Portugal, a new shoe called Perto, which goes even further. A shoe that supports producers who live in a positive way with the Iberian wolf, supported by the LIFE WolFlux project.
A shoe that is much more than just a shoe. The “Perto” model is a unique contribution to better coexistence between the Iberian wolf and local populations, bringing added value to all those who have good coexistence practices with the species. This shoe is made from wool produced by local producers in the Greater Côa Valley who consistently implement damage prevention measures to avoid impacts on livestock, and the corresponding conflict that this generates. It officially goes on sale from today (it can already be purchased here: https://www.wildling.shoes/en/products/perto-rw).
Rewilding Portugal began working in 2020 with livestock producers who carry out their activity in or near the Iberian wolf’s distribution area south of the Douro River, in the districts of Viseu and Guarda, to provide support in implementing damage prevention measures on their livestock farms. These measures include risk-reducing management practices and prevention tools, such as livestock protection dogs and electric and metal fencing with specific characteristics to prevent the wolf and other predators, such as stray dogs, from entering. To date, Rewilding Portugal has delivered 96 livestock dogs and 34 fences, supporting more than 80 cattle, sheep, goat and horse farmers.
In 2022, a collaboration between Wildling Shoes and Rewilding Portugal began to work with twelve sheep producers who implement good damage prevention practices and have sheep breeds that are compatible with wool quality needs, including the Bordaleira da Serra da Estrela native breed and Merino sheep. The implementation and maintenance of prevention measures has an associated cost and the value that producers receive for their wool, which they didn’t receive before, aims to contribute to the sustainability of the implementation of damage prevention measures, the best tool for a positive coexistence with the wolf. Wildling Shoes values wool and the work of producers fairly. Wool is a product that has been losing value on the market until we reached the point where many producers in the region had to sell it at very low prices or keep it because they couldn’t find a way to sell it and which, through this project, will once again be put to good use and paid for, being used to shoe people all over the world who buy a pair of Perto.
The support for damage prevention measures was carried out as part of the LIFE WolFlux project, funded by the European Union and the Endangered Landscapes Programme, and coordinated by Rewilding Portugal in partnership with Rewilding Europe, the University of Aveiro, Zoo Logical and the Transmumância e Natureza Association. The project aims to promote the ecological and socio-economic conditions necessary to support the viability of the Portuguese Iberian wolf sub-population south of the River Douro, which is currently fragmented and highly isolated from the rest of the Iberian population due to ecological and social barriers.
Perto thus contributes to coexistence between humans and wildlife and also to short production chains – 150 kilometres between origin and final product (with the active participation of Tavares SA and Ecolã units) – with consistently high animal welfare standards, and also guarantees that the product is purchased at a fair and equitable price for local producers.
This is exactly what being Perto (close in English) should mean. Being close to people, being close to wildlife, building peaceful coexistence. Conflicts can not only be resolved, but also prevented. Order your “Perto” now and come with us into the field, wearing shoes with the responsibility of supporting wild nature and the people who are here. We’ll be close by!