Anciles Valley Wildlife Reserve
After 15,000 years, European bison and other megafauna return to long-lost habitat in the Cantabrian mountains, Northern Spain. Goal of the project is ecological restoration and sustainable management of the forest landscape. Anciles Valley Wildlife Reserve is being developed into an important model project for ecological and rural development. Landscape and ecological values are protected and restored, the area’s natural resilience to climate change will be improved whilst encouraging the use of the reserve as a resource for wildlife-based ecotourism and delivering a range of ecological services.
The project focuses on a natural grazing management approach that will restore vegetation in Anciles Valley to its original state. The use of large herbivores in nature and grazing management has become a common practice in recent years. Through their grazing, trampling, nutrient redistribution and migration patterns, large grazers help to restore the indigenous plant diversity in natural areas. By creating more open spaces in dense vegetation, more succession stages and thus more variation in the landscape and new habitats will be created.
Developing sustainable income streams for protected areas and surrounding communities is one of the major challenges facing biodiversity conservation globally. At the same time, rural areas become abandoned as young people migrate to cities for better perspectives.
The project restores ecosystems, while creating economic opportunities and employment through ecotourism and ecosystem services. Ecotourism gives added economic value to Ancilles Valley Reserve, generates direct and indirect income for local communities and promotes the sustainable use of natural resources.