INTERPRETAtive guiding in a rewilding context
Written by Georg Messerer.
Living in the 21st century, with all its doom and gloom can be depressing and frustrating. However, an inspiring new narrative is emerging, one that is slowly finding its way into the world of wilderness guiding in Europe. The nature conservation narrative is shifting from trying to save specific species and habitats ad infinitum (with a lot of management and little success to date) to rewilding natural areas, and allowing natural processes to unfold and shape the areas. This gives us a real chance to pass on an enriched rather than a degraded natural heritage to the next generation. It involves trusting in nature’s ability to restore herself, with as little human interference as possible.
Rewilding is a game changer for us wilderness guides, especially in Europe. While classical conservation actions remain relevant and shouldn’t be replaced by rewilding, it does provide us with a vision, a chance to rethink our relationship with nature and it’s dynamic forces. As nature guides, we connect to nature and give guests the opportunity to do so too. As wilderness guides we dive as deep into nature as possible. We are there, present in the moment, sharing a moment with the living creatures around us. We want our guests to experience the extraordinary power of nature, to be inspired by its beasts and beauties, and to feel at home in the wilderness. Rewilding enhances these possibilities.
Reintroduction of the bison in Romania
Since 2014, Rewilding Europe, WWF Romania and the community of Armenis have reintroduced European bison into the Tarcu mountains, Romania, and have kickstarted a rewilding process that has not only seen the creation of a herd of over 100 wild bison in 2021, enriching one of the last wilderness strongholds in Europe, but also a strong ecotourism potential for the area.
Since 2015, the local team, now under the umbrella organisation founded by WWF-Romania called WeWilder, have complemented and strengthened the bison reintroduction project by involving as many locals as possible in the fast-developing ecotourism operations. By including the locals into the team and supporting them in creating local accommodations, developing as chefs, hosts and food producers and training locals as guides and tourism operators, WeWilder is shaped by and firmly rooted in the local community and able to provide income opportunities for locals.
Interpretative guide training program 2022
The well known wilderness philosophy of taking nothing but photos, killing nothing but time, creating nothing but memories and leaving nothing but footprints, is a central part of any ethical and professional wilderness guide. And to ensure the success of rewilding, it is vital to uphold the highest possible standard to wilderness guiding. This can only be achieved by uniting the guiding community and together inspiring and supporting ourselves to create the best experiences for our guests in an ethical and future-oriented way. The Wilderness Guides Association (WGA) is how we can unite, exchange knowledge and skills.
Accredited guide courses such as the Interpretive Wilderness Guide Level 1 course created by EWES in collaboration with WeWilder, are ways to start and develop your guiding career as a WGA certified guide, or to simply experience a steep learning curve about wild nature, ecotourism and rewilding in Europe. Standing next to other programmes addressing rewilding in the context of business development and ecotourism in Europe, such as Rewilding Training for Tourism, this course enriches the opportunities of a guide to gain first-hand experience in interpretive wilderness guiding centered in a rewilding context and expedition leadership in particular. While hard and soft skills directed at wilderness guiding are addressed, it also has a strong focus on personal development and aims to strengthen the rewilding community in Europe. With experienced instructors, eager to share their knowledge and skills, these opportunities are new and exciting!