By Johan Augustin, originally published on Mongabay

  • By 2002, the Iberian lynx was extinct in its native Portugal and down to fewer than 100 animals in Spain, well on track to becoming the first cat species to go extinct since the saber-toothed tiger 12,000 years ago.
  • But a battery of conservation measures targeting the wide range of threats to the species has seen it bounce back from the brink, with a wild population today of around 1,000.
  • Reintroduction of captive-bred lynx has been complemented by rewilding of historical lynx ranges, along with boosting of prey species and the creation of wildlife corridors and highway tunnels to reduce deaths from road collisions.
  • The species is one of a handful highlighted in a study showing how targeted conservation solutions can save species from going extinct, although threats still remain, including climate change.

It’s midday in summer, the mercury climbing above 40° Celsius (104° Fahrenheit), and nature guide Nuno Roxo is leading us on a hike in Guadiana Valley National Park in Portugal. The high grass and herbs, battered by the strong sun, have not seen any rain for several months. We continue down a narrow trail, used by wildlife such as boars and deer. Rabbits bolt off into the bushes.

The scenario looks promising for the return of the region’s top predator, for which rabbits are the favorite prey: the Iberian lynx. Nuno says that in his many years of guiding, he’s only caught a glimpse of the elusive cats once, quickly whizzing by. The best chance to see them, he says, is by the sheep pens, where the lynx lie in ambush — but not for the sheep.

“The lynx catch the foxes that come to kill the sheep, so the landowners appreciate having lynx on their property,” Nuno says.

It wasn’t always so. Half a century ago, the Iberian Peninsula, comprising Spain and Portugal, was home to thousands of Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus). The species is about half the size of the more common Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) found in cooler climates further north, but shared the same bad reputation for preying on livestock. That made it a favorite target of farmers, who saw it as vermin, as well as hunters who sought out its pelt and meat, or mounted it as a trophy.

It took until the early 1970s before the Iberian lynx was legally protected. But the decline continued, driven by habitat fragmentation, road kill, and loss of prey species, particularly the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), which accounts for about 75% of the Iberian lynx’s diet. By the start of the new millennium, lynx populations had hit a dramatic low: in 2002, only 94 Iberian lynx still roamed Spain, and in Portugal the species was declared locally extinct. The species was considered the world’s most endangered cat, next to the Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis), and was on track to becoming the first cat species to die out since the saber-toothed tiger 12,000 years ago.

Since that low, however, the cat has bounced back. In Spain, the government, scientists and environmental organizations have worked on reintroducing the lynx from animals raised at captive-breeding facilities. They have also worked with their peers across the border in Portugal, and in 2016, the first captive-bred lynx were released in Portugal’s southeastern Alentejo region, near the Spanish border. To date, 47 lynx have been released in Portugal.

There are now an estimated 1,000 Iberian lynx on the peninsula, with about 154 in Portugal’s Guadiana Valley. The remarkable comeback has seen the species’ conservation status improve on the IUCN Red List from critically endangered to endangered.

Along with a network of conservation groups, CBD-Habitat are translocating lynx and monitoring their survival, breeding, dispersal and conservation threats. Images: CBD-Habitat

Battery of conservation solutions

There’s no one silver bullet that can be credited with saving the Iberian lynx from extinction. Instead, the solution has been a combination of tried and tested conservation methods and innovative approaches, carried out across jurisdictions and helped by growing public awareness of the importance of conserving biodiversity.

Among the top threats to the species was the loss and fragmentation of habitat. Between 1960 and 1990, an estimated 80% of lynx range succumbed to degradation and habitat loss. Roads were a key part of this problem, obstructing the genetic exchange between different individuals and resulting in deaths from vehicle collisions. In Spain, building wildlife tunnels beneath busy highways has helped address the problem, and Portugal plans on emulating this solution. Creating wildlife corridors between the two countries is also tackling the genetic bottleneck, giving the animals back a natural range that transcends the concept of national borders.

“We are trying to increase their territory,” says João Alves, principal adviser to the government-run Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests, or ICNF by its Portuguese acronym.

He tells Mongabay he’s pleased by the results and hopes that extended corridors will see the lynx population grow further, although there’s still some way to go to securing enough range. Each lynx needs a territory of about 10 square kilometers (4 square miles), but the total area of current lynx territory in Portugal covers 500 km2 (193 mi2), which means more land must be secured.

“The lynx need habitat to live in,” says Olga Martins, regional director at the ICNF office in the city of Mértola in Alentejo.

A large proportion of potential lynx territory is privately owned, where landowners see more profit in cultivating olive groves and vineyards, turning the landscape into monocultures — barren land from a conservation perspective. To prevent this loss of viable habitat, the ICNF encouraging landowners to return to more traditional agroforestry systems called montados: a mosaic landscape characterized by low-density tree cover combined with agricultural or pastoral activities.

Another solution is rewilding. In Portugal, and elsewhere in Europe, environmental organizations such as Rewilding Portugal are buying up land from farmers and other landowners with the express purpose of restoring the biodiversity. A key part of making such a solution work, especially for predatory species such as lynx and wolves, is to get the locals on board. This seems to be working in Alentejo, conservationists say. Landowners and hunters, previously hostile to the presence of lynx on their land, have changed their minds. Livestock farmers, in particular, have found that the lynx don’t attack domestic animals, despite their age-old reputation on this point.

Restoring the rabbits

The disappearance of the European rabbit from much of its historical range, due to epidemics of myxomatosis and rabbit hemorrhagic disease, was another of the factors that drove the decline of the Iberian lynx. Myxomatosis, a viral disease from South America, was intentionally introduced into France in the 1950s to control populations of wild rabbit, which were considered vermin by farmers. The virus then spread southwest through the Iberian Peninsula, decimating the rabbit populations there, and with them, the lynx.

As part of the lynx reintroduction program, conservationists are also trying to boost the rabbit population. In Alentejo, these efforts are sold as a win-win all around: for the residents, rabbit has long been a cherished game animal and part of the traditional cuisine. Many landowners have now built artificial tunnels for the rabbits in the extremely compact soil, and provide guided tours to visitors keen to spot lynx — even if the odds of sighting this elusive cat are slim.

There are currently four captive-breeding centers for the Iberian lynx: three in Spain and one in Portugal. The selection of animals for breeding and for release is determined by the Iberian Lynx Captive Breeding Committee, or CCCLI by its Spanish acronym. It brings together technical and scientific representatives from Spain and Portugal, who decide which animals will be released and where, to maximize the genetic diversity of the wild populations

“If we have a total of 750 females on the Iberian Peninsula, it will be a viable number,” Alves says.

The outlook appears promising: Fifty kittens were born in the spring of  2020 in Guadiana Valley National Park, more than the number of captive-bred lynx released in Portugal in the past five years.

Addressing the range of threats

Addressing the range of threats to the Iberian lynx and devising solutions for each one has been key to pulling the species back from the brink, says Rike Bolam, a conservation scientist at Newcastle University in the U.K.

Bolam is the lead author of a study published last year that showed how conservation actions prevented the extinctions of seven to 16 mammal and 21 to 32 bird species since 1993. Among these is the Iberian lynx. (1993 was chosen as the baseline because that was the year the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity came into force, ushering in a wave of zoo-based conservation programs, formal legal protections, and reintroduction efforts.)

“The Iberian lynx suffers from a wide range of threats, and I think it has been really important that not just one or two of them were addressed, but a whole range of them,” Bolam tells Mongabay. “The lack of prey has been addressed by habitat management, lack of den sites is addressed by providing artificial sites.”

Bolam adds that road accidents are decreasing as a result of traffic-slowing measures, and illegal hunting is also fading thanks to awareness-raising with the public and monitoring for illegal traps.

“In addition to addressing the direct threats, there have been translocations and reintroductions into other areas to boost the population,” she says.

That last measure will prove important for sustaining the Iberian lynx in the wild against another growing threat: climate change.

Climate projections show regions in the south of the Iberian Peninsula where the lynx currently occurs may no longer be suitable for the species. The current reintroduction program, which is expanding the lynx’s range to the north, could improve its resilience to climate change.

“[I]t may help the species to spread to northern parts,” Bolam says, “mainly by reintroducing the species to other areas, as there is a lack of habitat corridor.”

She says the battery of conservation solutions that saved the Iberian lynx can be applied to other species on the brink. Many species face common problems, she notes: habitat loss through agriculture, and direct threats through logging, hunting and fishing.

“There are now models that show we can limit these drivers whilst still feeding everyone,” Bolam says. “But it will require changes in consumption practices, such as stopping food waste and eating less meat, as well as limiting climate change.”

This article was written by Johan Augustin, and originally published on Mongabay, republished by The European Nature Trust under the creative commons.

The European Nature Trust actively supports and funds CBD-Habitat in their efforts to restore Iberian lynx populations to a broader area of their historic range in Spain.

We have in November 2022, agreed a new funding partnership to continue our support for lynx translocation and population monitoring work into 2023.

Below, you can listen to a story on the Iberian lynx, in The WILD with Chris Morgan.

Romania has over 6 million hectares of forests, out of which a significant portion is still virgin: large, unfragmented mountain areas of stunning beauty, surrounded by natural forests; untamed rivers with the energy to shape valleys; bears, wolves, and lynx, which are still commonly seen in their natural environment; and over 3,700 plant species, many of them endemic to the region. We're passionate about the protection of this abundant biodiversity, and that's why we support the work of FCC in the Southern Carpathian mountains.

Romania tops all the environmental credentials: It has the largest surface of virgin forests, the biggest populations of large carnivores, the highest biodiversity, and the largest unfragmented forests left in the European Union. Amidst the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, nature on this scale is an elemental treasure – one which many other countries in Europe have lost. While natural resources across the world are being destroyed at an alarming rate, Romania still harbours the most important conservation areas with an enormous potential for green economic development.

However, Romanian forests are still under threat. After the fall of communism, what were nationalised forests began a process of restitution into the hands of private owners. This triggered widespread clear-cuts; many thousands of hectares of forests were illegally logged, the timber harvested and the old-growth diverse native forests cleared for monoculture plantations.

A hotspot of forest loss over the years has been the Romanian Carpathians. But one project here is a glistening example of how conservation action can effectively protect and restore wilderness areas, while becoming an engine for community empowerment and enterprise.

Since our earliest beginnings, TENT has been a supporter of the NGO FCC. Formed in 2009 by 12 philanthropists and now led by Barbara and Christoph Promberger, the project aims to create a world class wilderness reserve, ultimately donating protected and restored lands to the people as a new National Park. ​​

At TENT, we've renewed our agreement with FCC to support the recovery, protection and restoration of Romanian wilderness in the coming years.

Protecting and reintroducing native species

Despite overhunting throughout the last 20 years, the Făgăraș Mountains still harbour important populations of large carnivores and ungulates. Wolves, bears and lynx – key predators regulating the flow of energy through the food chain – are still present in viable numbers. FCC is working to safeguard this biodiversity and is currently active throughout four wildlife management units. As well as monitoring populations, and building coexistence between local communities and wildlife, FCC has created an area of 65,000 hectares that today exists without trophy and sports hunting. Together with neighbouring Piatra Craiului National Park, a total of 80,000 hectares is now without sport or trophy hunting.

FCC work to protect these crucial species while reintroducing those that play a ‘keystone’ role in the Carpathian ecosystem. FCC has undertaken to reintroduce bison and beavers to the Făgăraș Mountains. In May 2020, eight bison were reintroduced to the Făgăraș mountains and are now roaming freely. 

The European Nature Trust is committed to supporting FCC in further reintroduction work. Our support for FCC will help to: support the reintroduction of critical vulture populations, which will reinstitute the disease-clearing and carbon sequestering role of scavengers; expand the coverage of bison reintroduction sites in the Făgăraș Mountains and beyond, enriching forest habitat diversity; and uplift beaver reintroduction efforts, enriching freshwater habitats.

The European bison – a species once lost, and now reintroduced, to the Southern Carpathians. Photo: FCC

Restoring habitats

Unsustainable logging practises have damaged thousands of hectares of forests in the Romanian Carpathians, leaving mountain soils unprotected and exposed to erosion. As forests were restituted into private hands, monoculture plantations of commercially valuable but ecologically poor Sitka Spruce have replaced native, biodiverse old-growth forests. The mass extraction of timber from the forests throughout the last decade has not equitably benefitted local communities – it is mainly companies from Western countries that exploit the mountain forests and draw enormous profits, which rarely feeds back into the local economy.

FCC are committed to restoring the forests and grasslands of old, and TENT supports this mission. The organisation has so far purchased over 830 hectares of clear-cuts, some of which have been cut more than ten years ago. Since 2013, FCC replants annually ca. 100 hectares of native forest. TENT’s support of FCC will help to continue this effort, as well as to expand restoration work in key regions along rivers, for example, by helping restore vegetation and tree cover in riverbank areas. This approach to restoration is proven to cool freshwater ecosystem, helping to mitigate the impacts of climate change on biodiversity amidst rising summer temperatures. You can discover here how TENT is supporting similar work in the Highlands of Scotland.

The Carpathia project is now well on the way to fulfilling its goal by creating a new National Park for Romania. Critical to the project's success has been the establishment of new conservation enterprises, which have economically uplifted local communities, improving coexistence by generating new economic activities that benefit nature and people alike.

FCC and its supporters have for the last decade, established a green economy that is already bringing sustainable livelihoods for the communities around the proposed park. Enterprise opportunities – including ecotourism, sustainable forestry, organic agriculture, renewable energy and related services – are rapidly demonstrating that conservation is not only compatible with economic development, but a key driver of it.

In the coming years, TENT will continue our partnership with FCC, joining a shared vision for a new National Park in the Southern Carpathians.

visit FCC's website 

Learn more and consider making a donation to further support FCC's work.
explore fcc

Healthy, thriving freshwater ecosystems are essential to preserve biodiversity. Yet in Scotland, all is not well: a legacy of deforestation on riverbanks has begun to swirl with rising average temperatures, imperilling salmon and all the biodiversity that our rivers sustain. We must get trees back on riverbanks as the starting point for freshwater ecosystem restoration. At The European Nature Trust, we're pleased to announce our support for the Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries Trust in their efforts to restore woodlands on five rivers of the Kyle catchment.

Scotland has lost 97 per cent of its native woodland over the centuries, impairing ecosystem function and reducing biodiversity. Without the cooling shade that trees provide on riverbanks, many of Scotland’s rivers experience extremely high temperatures, reducing the survival rates of important species such as the Atlantic salmon and brown trout. Today, many of Scotland’s rivers run through bare, treeless glens, reflecting the ecological decline that we have come to accept as normal.

Temperature modelling undertaken as part of the Scottish River Temperature Monitoring Network (SRTMN) has identified that waters across Scotland, particularly in the uplands, are now at high risk. In 2018, 70% of Scotland's rivers experienced temperatures which cause thermal stress in juvenile salmon.

The image to the left shows the Kyle catchment; red indicates a temperature record of above 26.3C. These rivers are some of the most vulnerable to thermal stress during climate change – that's bad news for fish. Atlantic salmon, a cold-adapted species, cannot grow and develop from juveniles to adults in temperatures above 23C. Likewise for trout, temperatures of 30C are lethal.

Here you can explore an arcGIS map of the Kyle catchment with temperature recordings.

Salmon are an indicator species for the health of the entire freshwater ecosystems they inhabit. Not only that, they are a pillar of Highland culture and local employment. Today, there are 86 full time job roles on the Kyle river catchment related to salmon. If salmon disappear as our climate warms, the loss of these jobs would double the unemployment rate across the Kyle catchment. The climate is changing, and through history of deforestation and degradation, we've reduced the ability of freshwater ecosystems to adapt to this modern threat. We have to take steps to ensure the long-term viability of salmon populations, and that begins with the restoration of 'ecosystem functioning'.

A logical starting point is the restoration of woodland on riverbanks – an intervention that has been proven to keep water courses cool during hot summers, boost freshwater biodiversity and benefit salmon survival. Restoring riparian woodland benefits not only salmon but many other species of plants and animals, providing habitat, while drawing in and sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. Additionally, as riparian woodland has been lost, so too has the natural buffer for outflowing water; restoring that woodland would help to restore the flow of water out of rivers and drainage back into them, mitigating flood risk.

Building richer freshwater environments

The European Nature Trust is committed to restoring freshwater ecosystems in the Scottish Highlands. Building on our collaborative riparian restoration work at Alladale Wilderness Reserve – where one million trees have been replanted along two Highland glens – we are now actively engaged in the replanting of riparian woodlands along the five main rivers of the Kyle catchment. This work will be conducted and managed by the Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries Trust, in collaboration with The Fishmongers’ Company.

In May 2022, The European Nature Trust hosted the London premiere of Riverwoods: An Untold Story. Produced by SCOTLAND: The Big Picture, the film cast a light on the perilous state of Scotland’s Atlantic salmon population, and how their decline after years of riparian deforestation signifies a need to restore healthy freshwater environments. You can discover more about the event here.

With proceeds from our ‘Riverwoods’ BFI event, we are directing funding support to the Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries Trust. We raised above £60,000 at BFI, and your support is now helping us to 'kickstart' riparian woodland projects at the catchment scale, using this and matched funding commitments as a seed from which to engage further financial backing from landowners and government grants.

Restoring riparian woodlands will provide critical nursery grounds for young salmon; the tree cover will shade the water, cooling the temperature to improve salmon survival rates; while the revegetation of the riverbanks will help to restore natural hydrological flows, providing sorely needed habitat and resources for invertebrates, birds and mammals.

Joining us in our mission, The Fishmongers’ Company (Fisheries Charitable Trust) have engaged with TENT as a funding partner to extend the reach of the project, allowing us to get more trees back along riverbanks.

"We are extremely excited and proud to be engaged in this path-finder partnership with TENT and the Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries Trust in North-East Scotland. The restoration of Scotland's upland riparian habitats has taken on a new urgency and this project will allow us not only to build resilience into our fragile Highland catchments but also to test innovative new ideas to restore habitats and protect species. We hope, in time, these will be scaled up and applied in other parts of Scotland".

Andrew Wallace - Director Fishmongers' Company Fisheries Charitable Trust

Collaborating for our shared freshwater environment

We are working with collaborators who join us in a shared vision for catchment-scale restoration. In addition to our funding partnership with The Fishmongers' Co, this work is financially supported with bolt-on funding from the WaterBear Network – an environmental and humanitarian film streaming platform.

We are actively seeking partners who want to contribute to the tree-planting initiative. Together, we can make a tangible difference for the health of our shared freshwater environment – a public good, on which we all rely.

In the coming years, project stakeholders will be documenting the project and the biodiversity benefits of restoring riparian woodlands. Stay tuned!

About the Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries Trust

The Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries Trust is tasked with managing and improving the fishery and the riparian habitat within the catchment of the 5 rivers flowing into the Kyle of Sutherland. Their purpose is to support conservation initiatives and to advance public education.  This will benefit the freshwater fish resources and associated habitat of the region and to preserve for future generations a valuable part of Sutherland’s natural heritage.

About the Fishmongers' Company

The Fishmongers’ Company is one of the oldest and most ancient Livery Companies of the City of London, one of the ‘Great Twelve.’ For 700 years it has stood on the banks of the River Thames playing a leading role in upholding the standards in the trading of fish and shellfish. As part of their philanthropic work, the Fishmongers’ Company actively support projects designed to improve the quality of our shared freshwater resources.

About SCOTLAND: The Big Picture

SCOTLAND: The Big Picture is a rewilding charity working to open eyes to the value of landscape-scale restoration. Building on momentum of the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Riverwoods campaign, SBP produced the documentary film ‘Riverwoods’, which tells the story of Scotland’s ecological decline and how we can come together to protect salmon and freshwater ecosystems.

Supported by

The European Nature Trust has been a long-term supporter of the conservation group Salviamo l’Orso and their mission to expand Italy’s population of Marsican brown bears. On 18th October, we’re hosting Wild Abruzzo – a premiere film screening event – to celebrate the untamed nature of Italy, while raising awareness and funds for the protection of the Marsican brown bear.

Eight bear species live across the planet’s diverse ecosystems. From our earliest beginnings, they have mystified and enchanted us as a symbol of the untamed wild. Yet, very few are aware that brown bears are endemic to the Apennine Mountains of Italy, less than 200 kilometers from Rome. 

Italy’s Marsican brown bear is one of the rarest and most endangered bears in the world. A cousin of North America’s grizzly, it is a unique subspecies that became geographically isolated from other brown bears in Europe. With a population of about 60 remaining individuals the species is at extremely high risk of extinction and is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. In 2015, the last population census revealed just 13 reproductively active females in the population.

Once widespread throughout the Central Apennines, the Marsican brown bear population was hunted to the point of collapse in the last two centuries. Today, Italy’s remaining Marsican brown bear population is concentrated inside the Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park – an area spanning just 190 square miles. This core area struggles to support more than 60 individual bears; territorial, individual bears require large areas to freely forage. Moreover, with a population so small, genetic inbreeding has occurred, reducing the genetic fitness of the overall population and limiting the subspecies’ ability to respond to new environmental threats, like the impacts of climate change.

The bears’ future depends on the population’s ability to expand beyond the confines of Abruzzo National Park, and for new breeding populations to establish in a broader range of Italy’s protected areas.

This healthy movement of bears between protected areas is possible. In the new film from Chris Morgan – Path of the Bear – bears have shown to be capable of freely dispersing from the Abruzzo National Park to other protected areas. Earlier in 2009, a male bear named “Ulysses” arrived from the Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park to the Sibillini National Park; later, the cub of a bear known as “Amarena” dispersed all the way from Abruzzo National Park to the Gran Sasso National Park.

Watch the trailer for Path of the Bear. On 18th October, we're hosting a premiere film screening event, which will raise awareness and funds for the conservation of the bears. Join us!

The bears, however, need committed conservation work to build safe environments that they can move in. Salviamo l’Orso (a volunteer-led organisation), in collaboration with Rewilding Apennines, is working to encourage bears to safely disperse beyond the core area of the Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park. Their vision is for healthy, connected populations of the Marsican brown bear, living in harmonious coexistence with human populations. The collaboration has identified some of the most important ‘wildlife corridors’ that are crucial to connect the protected areas of the Central Apennines. Today, they are working in five key areas to build ‘corridors’, where bears are able to move between protected areas and increase the population’s genetic health.

Sixty Marsican brown bears can be found in the Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Parks. Salviamo l'Orso, in collaboration with Rewilding Appenines, are working in five key corridor areas (orange) to encourage bear dispersal to other protected areas in the Abruzzo region (green). Individual bears have moved through the corridor areas, demonstrating that a vision for healthy, connected populations of the bear is achievable.

Salviamo l'Orso's key conservation actions:

  • Threat mitigation: Within the corridor areas, SLO are removing obstacles to bear movement, such as barbed wire, and are combating poaching activities across the ecosystem. Traffic collisions with bears are being reduced through the installation of acoustical warning systems on road sides that deter bears, as well as through signage to increase driver awareness of bear presence. Local dogs – which could introduce new diseases to the fragile bear population – are being vaccinated against emerging diseases.
  • Education: SLO have established educational programmes in local schools, and work with young volunteers to support conservation efforts in the field.
  • Coexistence: SLO are building community awareness of the bear and unearthing traditional methods of coexistence. In addition, bear-proof waste bins are being disseminated, and electric fencing is helping to build a network of 'bear smart communities'.
  • Improving habitats: The SLO team are planting fruit trees and restoring ecosystems in corridor areas to improve food densities to encourage bears to disperse. Fruit trees at high altitudes are being pruned to increase yields to prevent bears from entering villages, which can create conflicts that eventually limit the bears’ ability to disperse.  
  • Monitoring and research: Corridors are constantly monitored by volunteers and passionate conservationists through long-distance wildlife observation and identification of animal tracks and signs. In collaboration with the National Park authorities, Salviamo l’Orso work to assist the movement of individual bears by educating and readying local communities.
Amarena, a female that recently gave birth to four cubs. All survived, and miraculously, one individual migrated from the Abruzzo National Park to the Gran Sasso National Park, demonstrating that bears can disperse if the right social and ecological conditions are built.

In many regions close to bear habitat areas, local people have embraced the bear as part of Italy’s natural heritage. Travellers from all over the world come to Italy to see wildlife, and the Marsican brown bear has proven to be an ambassador of conservation and the region itself. 

To many, the future of the Marsican brown bear represents a crossroads for European wildlife. According to the European Environment Agency, 81% of habitats and 63% of species in Europe currently have an ‘unfavourable’ conservation status. The bear cannot go extinct on our watch. Conserving the Marsican brown bear – as a large-bodied and wide-ranging mammal – would enable the protection of all the biodiversity it shares the ecosystem with. We must come together and protect the Spirit of Untamed Italy.

Join us at Wild Abruzzo

On 18th October at Ham Yard, Soho, The European Nature Trust will be hosting a premiere film screening event, showcasing two new films on the Marsican brown bear. 100% of proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to Salviamo l'Orso. 

Join us, support Italian nature, and help save the bear from extinction!
secure your tickets

On Tuesday 18th October, the elusive marsican brown bear made its way to London for an evening of conservation and celebration. The European Nature Trust proudly hosted Wild Abruzzo: The Spirit of Untamed Italy to raise awareness of the world’s most threatened bear and the Abruzzo region – the jewel of wild Italy. We want to thank all those who came down to Ham Yard to journey to Wild Abruzzo with us. 

The event brought together the Italian community, business leaders, media guests and travel operators with conservationists, wildlife filmmakers and photographers to build awareness and ignite new connections with Abruzzo. With just 60 individual Marsican brown bears remaining, the challenge is now on to secure a future for this emblem of wild Italy. Collaboration across communities and sectors is essential to securing a future for the bear and its habitat; we hope many of you felt inspired to connect with wild Europe and support conservation.

Please see below for a selection of images from Wild Abruzzo; the full library of images from the event is available to download via this link. Feel free to download and share!!!

The journey starts here

We urge you to visit Abruzzo next spring/summer! As the rural landscape inevitably transitions from a land-use model dedicated to livestock rearing, to a ‘living landscape’ where the conservation and restoration of wild nature benefits local communities, there is huge potential to establish a thriving nature-based economy driven by ecotourism.

The European Nature Trust, through our partnership with Steppes Travel offers tailor-made journeys to Abruzzo, allowing curious and conscious travellers the opportunity to connect with Italian nature, look for bears while financially supporting their conservation.

The foundation: Salviamo l'Orso

Salviamo l’Orso, in collaboration with Rewilding Apennines, have been working since 2012 to secure a future for the Marsican brown bear by enabling the species to safely disperse beyond the core population area. They are leading the effort to safely encourage bears to disperse, to improve the quality and range of their habitat, reduce human-wildlife conflict, and promote sustainable nature-based entrepreneurship in the Abruzzo region. Working with local stakeholders, conservation leaders and other strategic partners, they are promoting the ecological restoration of critical 'corridor areas' to expand the range of the bear, while raising awareness of how to harmoniously live alongside bears.

100% of funds raised at the event were able to be donated to Salviamo l'Orso to support bear conservation.

The sponsor

Wild Abruzzo was sponsored by Ugo Foods Group Ltd. – the longest established fresh pasta Company in the UK. Through our partnership, Dell’Ugo and TENT are continuing to supporting Salviamo l’Orso in efforts to conserve the critically endangered Marsican brown bear.

Supported by

We all depend on rivers. They provide the water we drink; transport the nutrients that people and wildlife alike depend on; their flows and banks provide habitat for native species; and perhaps most importantly, they are natural features of wonder, beauty and mystery.

Yet all is not well. In Scotland – where 97% of native woodland has been lost over the years – many riverbanks are deforested. Threatened by changes at sea and on land, Scotland’s Atlantic salmon are suffering from the degradation of river catchments. Their numbers have declined by 70% within the last 50 years. Now, fewer are returning to our waters, with evidence suggesting that Scotland’s rivers are becoming too hot. On the Dee and Kyle catchments, fisheries managers have recorded freshwater temperatures as high as 28.5°C – too high for spawning salmon.

Riverwoods: An Untold Story shines a light on the perilous state of Scotland’s river catchments and Atlantic salmon populations. The film reveals the fine connections that thread freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems; how species in nature, seemingly disconnected, are in fact dependent on one another; and how each of us can come together in a shared vision for a restored Scotland.

Watch the trailer

Watch the trailer for the hit sensation below. SCOTLAND: The Big Picture are currently in discussions with multiple networks concerning the film’s wider distribution; we will keep you informed of progress.

Riverwoods: The London Premiere

On 24th May, 2022, TENT hosted the London premiere of Riverwoods at the British Film Institute, Southbank. Together, we raised more than £60,000 to kickstart a riparian restoration project on the Kyle catchment.

Discover more Of our restoration work in Scotland

At TENT, we are active collaborators on a number of projects working to restore terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. Browse our projects below.
Explore TENT's work

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