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CASE STUDY 17
Leveraging hunting concessions for rewilding in Europe: a creative new model for Croatia

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Context: Spanning more than 2,000km2, Velebit is the largest protected area in Croatia, boasting some of the richest wildlife habitat in Europe and more than 1,800 plant species and sub-species, 79 of which are endemic.  Outside its two constituent National Parks, Velebit is divided into a mosaic of hunting concessions servicing a pastime that is deeply engrained in the social, economic and cultural heritage of the region, but one that is not managed in an ecologically sustainable manner.  
 
Our Role: In an innovative application of €80,000 of finance, we helped Rewilding Europe Capital to negotiate and fund the acquisition of a controlling stake in Lagosta D.O.O, a company holding a 16,000-hectare Velebit hunting concession, on behalf of Rewilding Europe. It is now leading a business development process to build diversified, non-hunting related revenue streams that will be used both to offset the costs of converting more than 75% of the concession area into a ‘no-take’ breeding zone, as well as generating carefully targeted economic benefits for local communities designed to create new and active conservation incentives. On going hunting operations will be governed by comprehensive conservation covenants designed to reinforce ethical, non-intensive hunting techniques and accurate trophy selection.

Outcomes: This has been the first transaction of its kind in Europe and considerable potential exists to finesse it as a model that could be much replicated across a continent where there is both considerable scope and need to improve hunting practices and their sustainability. The transaction has catalysed an active and on-going dialogue with the Croatian Ministry of Agriculture on possible future amendments to the methodology for establishing and monitoring hunting quotas across all of Croatia. We are now working to replicate similar models in both the Rhodope Mountains in Bulgaria and in Romania.