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Rewilding Iberian Highlands

One of Europe’s least populated regions has been chosen as the site for a large-scale rewilding initiative, which aims to bring back lost species.

Iberian lynx sitting on a rock
Iberian Lynx

The Iberian Highlands in central-eastern Spain spans 850,000 hectares (2.1 million acres). It's a rugged mountain chain of high plateaus that carves its way through the Iberian Peninsula of Spain, home to pine, oak and juniper forests that mingle alongside steppe and dramatic river canyons.

Rewilding Europe, a not-for-profit conservation organisation, has secured funding to restore habitats across the region. It will have a budget of around £690,000 ($820,000) a year for three years.

While rich in natural beauty, the Iberian Highlands has experienced economic hardship and rural depopulation in recent years.

Rewilding Europe hopes that bringing wildlife back to the region will provide a shot in the arm for the local tourist economy. Bearded vultures, red kites and the lynx are among the species set to be reintroduced. The high levels of biodiversity and low levels of human disturbance provide promising conditions for nature tourism to play a greater role in diversifying and strengthening local economies.

“We have a great opportunity to demonstrate that sustainable socio-economic development is possible for the Iberian Highlands, where rewilding benefits local communities and brings hope to an area where pessimism reigns,” says Pablo Schapira, who is leading the project.



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