The Anatolian Leopard Foundation was founded by Leo Goudzwaard, Edo van Uchelen and Erwin van Maanen after investigating the possible survival of leopards in the Anatolian Mountain Range of southern Turkey. With great help of other organizations, like the PlanfortheLand Society of Iran, a couple of short surveys for leopards were performed in Turkey. In return, the Anatolian Leopard Foundation was able to support the Iranian partners, resulting in two projects and scope for more. Subsequently other avenues for biodiversity conservation came in view which are more encompassing, not species-focused but ecosystem-based, with accent on safeguarding and restoring keystone species. This grew from the interest in rewilding by Erwin van Maanen, who has pioneered in this upcoming field in Georgia (Caucasus) and in Romania, inspired by collaboration with the Wildlands Network in the US. The foundation is now growing toward an NGO with the focus to effectuate rewilding projects, starting progressively from small scale demonstration projects by individuals toward achieving sizeable wild land procurement and keystone species restoration projects by consortiums of experts and with a bottom-up approach. The name Anatolian Leopard Foundation has thus become inappropriate. Hence foundation is set shortly on transformation into a rewilding foundation: The Rewilding Foundation. This foundation endeavors the initiation and support of rewilding initiatives around the world.
Rewilding is currently gaining momentum from a conceptual to a practical science and feasible endeavor, despite all the odds facing it. It is but one vital goal to be achieved in order to save our existence by safeguarding and restoring a greener and healthier planet for coming generations and attain true ecological sustainability; reversing in part the harm exerted by uncontrolled economic globalization. Around the world especially young people are researching and propagating rewilding objectives, and becoming advocates for its achievement. Still needed is a firm holistic and scientific basis, but above all a critical mass and consolidation of proponents in societies and governments, with great financial mechanisms to make it happen and viable with green economic returns to support people’s livelihoods. Realizing deeply that rewilding requires the reconnecting of people with nature and each other, The Rewilding Foundation endeavors to work closely with others and seek alliance with larger conservation organizations, to grow among their ranks. As such, investigations for partnerships and collaborative efforts have been discussed with rewilding organizations like Rewilding Europe and the Wildlands Network.
We are also changing our organization internally. The founding members Edo van Uchelen and Leo Goudzwaard have left the organization in pursuit of other priorities. Leo earns a living from his dendrology consultancy and the research assistant capacity at Wageningen University, taking much of his time; his ambition was no more than to find the Anatolian leopard. Likewise, Edo, being an eco-tourism entrepreneur, has founded a Dutch nature photography institute.
Presently we are recruiting new board and international advisory board members; people inspired and dedicated to make rewilding happen and able to provide leverage though their knowledge, skills and networks. Please contact us if you are interested in joining us on this journey and advance the foundation to create a global rewilding network.
For wilderness with keystone species and for harmonization of man and nature! Rejoin, enlarge and revitalise natural areas.