Connecting Wilderness in the Central Apennines

In the centre of Italy exists a wild and highly biodiverse region, the Central Apennines. Numerous protected areas occur there to protect the mountainous landscape with its forests and prairie-like plains.

In this network, the Majella National Park plays an important role not only due to the size and well-done zoning but very much also due to clear long-term objective to protect Majella Wilderness. As a result, Majella Wilderness become the very first Italian member of the European Wilderness Network.

The network of protected areas around, and particularly active non-profit organizations focusing on restorative ecosystem management creates opportunity to extend Wilderness via mutually beneficial partnership.

Great potential to expand Wilderness

The Central Apennines typically have high densities of wildlife. These include large predators, scavengers and large populations of red deer, roe deer and wild boar. In particular, the region is home to the Marsican brown bear and wolf.

There is a great potential to spread Majella Wilderness experience. This potential arises from the well-established network of the protected areas and the variety of the well protected ecosystems of the Central Apennines. Quick research already confirmed Wilderness potential in several protected areas in this region. These are Sirente-Velino Regional Park, Abruzzo National Park, Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park or Monti Sibillini National Park. Besides that, there is Wilderness potential in a number of smaller areas all across the region.

Rewilding in the Central Apennines

Rewilding is a method of restorative ecosystem management. This method is an important tool to achieve that more areas reach the point where they qualify as Wilderness.

Rewilding aims to catalyze landscape transformations by initiating ecological processes. This approach includes species conservation and reintroductions as well as restorative landscape interventions. In Europe, the organisation Rewilding Europe has been operating in this field since 2011. They have set up several rewilding pilot areas in which both wilder landscapes and nature-based economies are developed.

International partnership

In the Central Apennines, the European Wilderness Society and two local organisations, Salviamo l’Orso and Rewilding Apennines, are setting up cooperation with objective to enlarge audited Wilderness in this region. The Salviamo l’Orso and Rewilding Apennines have wide experience to minimize human-wildlife conflicts in the anthropogenically shaped zones situated in between the protected areas. This should enhance wildlife migration, especially the expansion of the endangered Marsican brown bear population.

It is wonderful to see the region with a great potential to expand Wilderness. Besides a number of areas with already confirmed Wilderness potential, the partnership and cooperation with Salviamo l’Orso and Rewilding Apennines opens up the possibility to also identify Wilderness in regional parks and nature reserves.

Vlado Vancura
European Wilderness Society Deputy Director

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