Part of the Rewilding Europe £9m grant
The flora and fauna of the Eastern Rhodopes is a fascinating array of natural wonders, comprising many species unfamiliar to most Europeans.
The Eastern Rhodopes are the stronghold of vultures in south-eastern Europe. It is the only breeding area in the country for griffon vultures, the most important breeding site for the globally threatened Egyptian vulture on the Balkan peninsula, and rare black vultures can also be seen circling overhead. But you can also come across subterranean worm-like lizards, curiously-shaped orchids, dwarf irises and a myriad of other strange insects.
The whole region is also a stronghold within Bulgaria for wolves and jackals. The brown bear has begun to recolonise the Rhodopes in recent years and bear-watching is already becoming a bookable tourism offering in the area.
Because of its location at the crossroads between the European and Asian continents, the impact of the Mediterranean, its pristine landscapes and the variety of habitats here, in combination with the relatively small human disturbance, the Rhodope Mountains are home to a huge variety of species and have become one of the bird-watching hotspots in Europe.
The ERF grant will be used to assist Rewilding Europe in scaling up rewilding in this part of Europe.
With funding from ERF, Rewilding Rhodopes is creating space for natural processes like forest regeneration, free-flowing rivers, herbivory and carnivory to impact ecosystems.