Exchange of reliable data and transfer of know-how across borders are key to managing coexistence with wolves, bears, lynxes & co.
23 May 2019 – Today WWF and its partners publish a report that analyses the different perspectives of people living and working with large carnivores across Europe. The report provides insights from several round table workshops that have brought together diverse stakeholder groups across 14 countries to discuss the challenges and solutions of sharing one environment with large carnivores. Farmers, foresters, hunters, conservationists, researchers, representatives from public authorities, politicians and others have identified solutions together to improve conservation management practices and to reduce the potential for economic losses. Based on these findings, the report makes a series of recommendations that could improve human-large carnivore coexistence.
Stakeholders across all focus areas were mainly concerned about the lack of timely, reliable, and trusted information regarding large carnivores–particularly wolves, about a perceived lack of leadership by government authorities, about the economic impacts of livestock losses, and the expense of obtaining and managing tools needed to prevent these losses. Concerns were also raised about media coverage of large carnivores compounded by the perception that this is often sensationalistic, prone to errors of fact, and tends to focus on extreme positions that polarize discussions.
Feedback clearly indicated that better information on large carnivores is essential across Europe. Stakeholders identified the need for platforms or forums to structure and improve the exchange of large carnivore management information among all interested parties. Additionally, stakeholders in all focus areas indicated that economic support to cover the costs of adopting prevention tools needs to be part of the solution, along with introducing compensation systems for livestock losses and improving the efficiency of those already in existence. In summary the main recommendations given are threefold and include improving large carnivore management by using the best available science across all countries, standardizing data and reporting protocols, sharing successful approaches, sharingtools in prevention and mitigation of conflicts and improving damage prevention and compensation systems. This needs to go along with enhancing governance by developing robust stakeholder platforms to improve collaboration, trust building and the exchange of reliable information among all stakeholders and improving communications by providing journalists with reliable sources of data and credible points of contact with various interest groups that provide accurate information an unbiased messaging. "Wolves, bears, lynxes and wolverines are making a tremendous comeback and are part of the European identity. Where people and large carnivores share the same landscapes, things might change. However, together with our project partners we are convinced that coexistence is possible if we are open to learning from each other and try to adapt to the new situation," emphasizes Moritz Klose, EuroLargeCarnivores Project Lead at WWF Germany, with reference to the report and the often heated discussions on this topic.
About the project
The LIFE EuroLargeCarnivores project is funded by the EU and aims to provide a platform for the exchange of best practice in the area of human-large carnivore coexistence among various stakeholders in the European Union. More than 16 countries cooperate and share knowledge and information across borders. This knowledge covers everything from different approaches to managing the social, economic and ecological challenges that come along with wolves, bears, lynxes and wolverines, to practical solutions such as livestock protection.
About the report
The “European Perspectives on Coexistence with Large Carnivores” report captures the perspectives of different stakeholders, the relationships among them and the types of challenges and solutions they identified. An extensive stakeholder engagement process was designed that used surveys and facilitated workshops across 14 countries and within 5 major focus areas of the project: the Alpine Region (Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Slovenia, Croatia), the Central European Region (Germany, Poland), the Carpathian Region (Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine, Hungary), the Iberian Region (Portugal, Spain), and the Fenno-Scandinavian Region (Finland, Norway). This report provides the initial findings from this engagement and summarizes regional European perspectives about large carnivore management. It describes challenges and solutions at the regional level that have been identified in 2018 to improve conservation management practices and to reduce the potential for economic losses. It also makes a series of recommendations that could improve human-large carnivore coexistence. Download the report (web version; print version).