Augmentum has entered into a partnership with Rewilding Europe as to fund a range of key rewilding measures in Velebit mountain range in Croatia.
The grant will focus on three key areas: the ongoing creation of a wildlife corridor, the restoration of natural grazing and support of local entrepreneurship.
Together these actions will contribute to the evolution of the Velebit Mountains as one of the wildest, largest, best protected and most famous wildlife and wilderness areas in Mediterranean Europe, with wide-ranging benefits for both people and local wild nature.
The Velebit rewilding area extends across at least 200,000 hectares, including the North Velebit and Paklenica National Parks and the Velebit Nature Park. The core rewilding area, where a number of former hunting concessions are being transformed into a wildlife haven, acts as a corridor between the two national parks. The area is now largely governed by natural processes, with iconic wildlife species such as Balkan chamois, brown bear, red deer, wolf and Eurasian lynx all rebounding. A wide range of actions is planned to enhance this corridor, including efforts to further restore wildlife populations, the construction and repair of ponds, and anti-poison and anti-poaching patrols.
The new donation will also be used to advance natural grazing on the Lika Plains, a high-altitude Velebit grassland. Rewilding Europe and Rewilding Velebit are restoring natural grazing here with Tauros and Konik horses. The aim is to expand the area under natural grazing from 800 to almost 2,000 hectares in 2021, with these herbivores helping to create and maintain a mosaic (half-open, half-wooded) landscape that is home to a diverse wild nature.
The support received by Augmentum will focus on the development of a Wildlife Corridor by supporting natural wildlife population dynamics, increasing scientific monitoring and transforming the natural landscape through the restoration of five water ponds.
The recovery of wild nature in the Velebit Mountains is driving the gradual development of a local nature-based economy. Part of the rewilding vision for the Velebit Mountains is to transform the challenges of rural depopulation, biodiversity loss and fading culture into new opportunities based on thriving wild nature. The rise of activities such as wildlife watching and the sale of natural products are supporting new livelihoods and encouraging young entrepreneurs to settle in the area. This, in turn, is boosting the appeal of the Velebit Mountains as one of Europe’s preeminent holiday destinations for nature lovers and building further support for rewilding.
The support received by Augmentum will support new and existing nature-based enterprises in Velebit. The aim is to build three fully-equipped photographic hides to promote eco-tourism.