Voice of WILD10
Day Four—WILD Day!: Monday, October 7, 2013
There was excitement in the air as Day Four of the Congress dawned. October 7 was “WILD Day” at WILD10! With so many diverse landscapes, cultures, architecture, history, and rewilding efforts, host country Spain offered much to explore. WILD Day also provided a wonderful opportunity for delegates to recharge their batteries, at the end of the Global Gathering and in anticipation of the three-day Global Forum, and to continue to connect with each other in the great outdoors or in two of the most beautiful small cities of Spain.
WILD10 delegates chose from a diverse offering of excursions designed to help them experience the beauty and splendor of northwest Spain. Excursions included historic guided walking tours of Salamanca and the preserved medieval town of Avila, local winery tours, and customized nature excursions with focuses on birding, hiking, and wilderness conservation, all with guides and naturalists, and lunch for full-day expeditions.
Delegates who chose the nature expeditions visited Campanarios de Azaba Biological Reserve, Arribes del Duero Regional Park, Batuecas y Sierra de Francia Biosphere Reserve, Monfrague National Park, while those who wished to focus on culture and history explored Avila, one of the most breathtaking and historic cities in Spain, or Salamanca, host city to WILD10, with a historic quarter containing unparalleled medieval buildings and streets.
Campanarios de Azaba Biological Reserve is one of Europe’s rewilding pilot projects, and WILD10 delegates who hiked through the reserve witnessed a special and historic event in Europe’s effort to reintroduce native species to suitable landscapes. Harvey Locke, the WILD Foundation’s Strategic Conservation Adviser and globally known landscape conservationist and writer, provided the following account of his moving visit to the reserve:
Campanarios de Azaba is a rolling landscape of Iberian oak savannah in western Spain tight up against the Portuguese border. The 400-hectare project is the acorn of the Rewilding Europe project that will hopefully grow into a mighty oak of wildland. Even now it offered the WILD10 field trip participants a lovely walk through a landscape with birds singing, vultures soaring overhead, brilliant purple and yellow meadow saffron underfoot and woodlands of well-spaced oak trees. So great not to be stuck in a bus all day!
Culinary delights at lunch on the veranda of the guesthouse included Iberian air-dried ham fed on acorns ( jamon Iberico bellotta), which is the traditional agricultural product of the region, and excellent Arribes red wine that is produced nearby. The lodge and conservation area are run by the excellent Spanish team at Fundacio Naturaleza y Hombre.
The highlight of the day was the release of wild horses. A small herd was obtained from Donana National Park in southern Spain for release in the Iberian oak savannah where they once roamed free. Horses are a native species to Europe like zebras are to Africa. If Rewilding Europe’s vision comes true, horses will be wildlife again. It was thrilling to see these free-spirited and undomesticated horses released to live, breed and die free as an integral part of a landscape that is returning to nature.”
WILD10 delegates returned to the Congress tired but refreshed and inspired, and ready to plunge into an enormous program of in-depth Global Forum sessions organized by WILD10’s program staff for October 8, 9, and 10th.
(Jennifer Scarlott, email@example.com)