Read the online version | ISSN 2599-8226

EU Platform on Coexistence between People & Large Carnivores

E-Newsletter | 2021/01 (July 2021)

European Commission Logo
Header Image

On 20 May, we organised our plenary meeting for the 8th year. Unfortunately for the second year in a row, we could not meet face to face. Hopefully, this will be different in 2022! Eight years working together establishes the platform as a long-term collaboration. We felt it was a good time to look back and reflect on what we had achieved over this time. For this reason, the focus of the plenary meeting was to discuss and update our joint communications plan.

The focus of the platform communications remains to exchange information on the different practices occurring across the EU so that we can learn from one another. Additionally, how to deal with fake news, spread on social media has been an issue for many areas (not just large carnivore management). While the EU Platform cannot respond to each individual spreading fake news, we aim to provide factual information online to give others the knowledge and information sources to react in case fake news on large carnivores is affecting their work. The Frequently Asked Questions and Common Misconceptions on the Platform website provide a well-sourced base for tackling some of the more difficult questions associated with coexistence.

The EU Platform is one of many platforms and websites providing information on good practice on coexistence with large carnivores. National platforms also provide a wealth of information as well as many ongoing LIFE projects. We are keen to exchange with such platforms and make sure we are mutually sharing each other's work to provide as much fact-based information on coexistence as possible.

Wishing you happy reading and a good start to the summer!

Jurgen Tack
Scientific Director of the European Landowners’ Organization (ELO)
Co-chair of the EU Platform on Coexistence between People and Large Carnivores

EU Platform plenary meeting, 20 May

The eighth annual meeting of the EU Platform on Coexistence between People and Large Carnivores took place online on 20 May 2021. During the morning, a range of policy initiatives, relevant to the work of the platform were discussed. This included an update on the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030 and the restoration instrument, LIFE projects and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Afterwards, members discussed the activities planned on gathering information about livestock protection and large carnivores. The afternoon sessions focused on improving the platform's communication and updating its communication plan as well as on the next steps for implementing the platform's work plan. Presentations are available on the Platform website.

Thematic Webinar – Stakeholder involvement in large carnivore management in Europe: Example of Swedish Wildlife Management Delegations and international comparisons, 12 April

Co-organized by the EU Platform on Coexistence between People and Large Carnivores, the Regional Platforms on Large Carnivores and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the webinar presented results from a survey on stakeholder participation in the Swedish Wildlife Management Delegations. Presentations also gave an overview of how participants interact in such fora, in the light of the ongoing update of the Large Carnivores Management Plans in Sweden. The overall context of participatory management of large carnivores in Sweden was also presented as well as lessons learnt and experiences from other regional platforms in Europe.

The presentations and the webinar video are available on the Platform website.

What does CAP reform mean for coexistence funding?

On the 25 June, the EU institutions finally reached a provisional agreement on the CAP 2023-2027. The drawn-out negotiations had previously foundered on points around the green architecture of the CAP (ring-fencing of the ecoschemes, conditionality and links with the green deal). A new briefing on how CAP financing can be used to support large carnivore coexistence measures is available on the platform website.

European Commission list of potential eco-schemes

The Commission published a list of potential agricultural practices that could be financed under the eco-schemes (agri-environmental schemes which should be funded under Pillar 1 of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) after 2022. This list aims to contribute to the debate around the CAP reform and its role in reaching the Green Deal targets. This list also enhances transparency of the process for establishing the Strategic CAP Plans, and provides farmers, administrations, scientists and stakeholders a base for further discussion on making the best use of this new instrument.

Several inclusions in this list could be of interest to financing the protection of livestock against large carnivore depredation. They include:

  • Agroecology: support to low intensity, grass-based systems;
  • Husbandry and animal welfare plan: housing and open-air grazing management;
  • High nature value farming: shepherding and transhumance.

It is up to Member States to decide in consultation with stakeholders what to include in their final CAP Strategic Plans. Read the EU Platform briefing to learn more.

Update on Regional and Local Platforms on Large Carnivores

The EU Platform aims to engage with similar regional groupings which focus on conflict around large carnivore presence in different areas in the EU. The two EU-funded projects on the establishment of regional platforms on people and large carnivores work together with stakeholders to discuss issues around large carnivore coexistence in the national, regional or local context. Six regional platforms have been established in Italy, Romania, Spain and Germany, France and Sweden.

While there are few meetings taking place for the regional platforms, the work in Sweden and France is advancing slowly. In Sweden a range of interviews have been carried out and a process is being launched to consult firstly national stakeholders and then several different regional Wildlife Management Delegations. This is being coordinated with the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) as part of the update to the national large carnivore management plans. In France, following a first Platform meeting with the Vercors Regional Natural Park, online discussions with administrators and tourism actors were carried out in March and April. A small meeting with livestock managers was organised at the end of May. A full meeting of the platform is expected after the summer.

Natura 2000 day and EU Green Week

Natura 2000 day, 21 May, was celebrated entirely online this year. To mark the occasion, the Commission published a new video that can be used to raise awareness about the role Natura 2000 plays in protecting nature and people’s health and well-being.

The EU Green Week 2021, zero pollution for healthier people and planet took place online from 1-4 June. Daily reports from the online event and a range of partner events are available on the website.

Launch of the European Natura 2000 Award 2022

Also on the Natura 2000 day, the European Commission launched the 2022 edition of the Natura 2000 Award. Please apply online until the end of September!

The Award, now in its sixth edition, honours and gives recognition to leading nature conservation achievements connected to Europe’s Natura 2000 network of protected areas. It helps to raise awareness about Natura 2000, the work carried out by different organisations and individuals to safeguard these vital natural assets, and the health, cultural, societal and economic benefits the network provides to us all.

In previous years a range of large carnivore-related projects has been recognised as winners and finalists. For example in 2020, the project "Joint efforts for safe and wildlife-friendly transportation networks in the Carpathians" with partners in Romania, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Ukraine, won the Cross-border Cooperation and Networking Award for its interdisciplinary collaboration addressing landscape fragmentation in the Carpathian Mountains, which should benefit a range of large carnivore species. In 2018, the Greek NGO Callisto, won the Reconciling Interests and Perceptions Award for "Co-existing with bears in the 21st century: Difficulties and achievements" for working with stock-breeders and local authorities to reduce conflicts with bears.

Use of the Natura 2000 logo for promoting sustainable services and goods

In June 2021, the Commission adopted a Commission Decision regarding the use of the Natura 2000 logo on goods and services. Until now, the logo has been used to identify Natura 2000 sites and for communication purposes (on documents and publications and in order to increase awareness about the Natura 2000 network). Under this Decision, the Commission may grant Member States the free licence for use of the Natura 2000 logo on goods and services in their territory. In this way, the Commission aims to promote the benefits that Natura 2000 can provide to local economies and help build new partnerships between site managers, landowners and users as well as local businesses. This could be of interest, for example for the labelling of products or activities in Natura 2000 sites where land managers are coexisting with large carnivores. The EU Platform has collected examples of where labelling schemes have already been used to add value to agricultural or tourism products (see the case study section of the Platform).

Media reporting on bear attacks

A recent attack of a walker by a bear in Asturias, Spain has left the community shocked. Luckily the woman concerned escaped with relatively minor injuries. While this incident should not be underplayed, the media reporting has not always been balanced. LCIE has published a fact-checking article that describes what happened and corrects some of the misinformation.

Even more recently, the death of a man in Slovakia with injuries consistent with a bear-attack was also reported in the international news as the first fatal incident involving a bear in the modern history of the country. While bear attacks remain very rare in Europe, fatalities occur most years in Romania. For more information on the danger posed to people by large carnivores see the FAQs on the EU Platform website “Are large carnivores aggressive to humans?”.

Iberian Lynx status improvement

The annual census of the Iberian lynx for 2020 shows that the population has increased to above 1000 individuals, (1111 individuals in Spain and Portugal (and 239 breeding females)). Reduced disturbance (Corona pandemic) may have contributed to the fairly impressive increase in the last year, however, the most likely reason is a better selection of reintroduction areas (greater increase seen in these areas).

In October, 2020 a new LIFE project started (LIFE LYNXCONNECT). Over the next five years, it will aim to increase the lynx population and the species’ conservation status from endangered to vulnerable. Actions include connecting and improving habitat, and starting monitoring based on DNA samples and also improving the genetic variability of the overall population.

Balkan Lynx Recovery Programme update

For 15 years, the Balkan Lynx Recovery Programme (BLRP) team has been working to protect the Balkan lynx (Lynx lynx balcanicus). The Balkan lynx is assessed as a Critically Endangered subspecies of the Eurasian lynx and listed in Appendix II of the Bern Convention, which leads to stronger protection in the range countries. The population is currently distributed only along the Balkan Green Belt in the border region between North Macedonia and Albania and western Kosovo*. Overall, the range is very restricted and the population consists of much less than 50 animals according to current estimates. In addition to the high risk of extinction due to the extremely small population size, the Balkan lynx is also highly threatened by the poaching of the animals themselves as well as their main prey (roe deer and chamois) and the destruction of its habitat by e.g. deforestation.

The results of the 2021 Balkan lynx camera-trap survey are alarming. Only a few individuals were photographed. The project’s Newsletter has been re-launched to raise awareness on the critical status of the Balkan lynx and to inform about the activities of the BLRP. Current information can be found on the BLRP Facebook page. Please spread the word.

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

Coexistence measures removed from the Greek Rural Development programme

The Greek Ministry of Rural Development and Food decided not to implement Action 4.4.1 “Protection of farming from the Bear (purchase and installation of an electrified fence)”, which was included in the Greek Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. The action would financially support the installation of portable electric fencing devices around apiaries, farms and livestock holding facilities, as a means to prevent bear damages on properties of farmers. The decision has been campaigned against by the LIFE ARCPROM project as it is expected to have adverse effects on bear and other large carnivores’ conservation in the country.

LIFE ARCPROM online event on the threats posed by poisoned baits, 22 February

The illegal use of poisoned baits usually targets small carnivores (such as foxes) or wolves. However, often bears, rare birds of prey, as well as livestock guarding dogs, are poisoned accidentally, threatening efforts to improve coexistence between people and large carnivores.

The LIFE ARCPROM project aims to declare the 22nd February as "National Day Against Poisoned Bait" during which, each year, awareness-raising activities and local events will be co-organised all over Greece. This first awareness-raising event included representatives from the Government, NGOs, the national parks and academics. Approximately 80 people attended the live event, while the Facebook video gathered more than 2.300 views by the end of May 2021.

Event: An EU Action Plan for Pastoralism, 14 June

The European Committee of the Regions, with the support of Euromontana, the Yolda Initiative and the International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists (IYRP) Regional Support Group for Europe, held the conference “Pastoralism: a crucial way to tackle sustainability challenges in EU and beyond“ in June. At the event, the participants identified the challenges that pastoralism faces but also highlighted its important contributions to the three pillars of sustainability.

Relevant projects and publications
New issue of Carnivore Damage Prevention News

The latest issue of Carnivore Damage Prevention News covers a broad range of subjects, from technical interventions in Catalonia to more prosaic practices in Turkey. There is an analysis of multi-disciplinary approaches to engaging with stakeholders in Italy and a playful look at game-based learning as a tool to teach conflict mitigation methods in Africa and beyond.

Technical guide to Cantabrian bears published in English and Spanish

Cantabrian bears: Demographics, coexistence and conservation challenges describes how the Cantabrian bear population has developed over time. Challenges for conservation and coexistence are explored in detail.

Report Large Carnivore Monitoring in the Carpathian Mountains

Ensuring that large carnivore monitoring is reproducible, repeatable and transparent is key to ensuring that the results are trusted. Until now, it was difficult to discuss the opportunities for a large carnivore monitoring programme across the Carpathian arch as we were unaware of the methodology used in an area ranging from the Czech Republic to Ukraine. National reports on large carnivore monitoring were often published in local languages – if published at all. For this reason, the Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention and the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation commissioned BOKU (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna), led by Klaus Hackländer to compile an overview of ongoing monitoring practices. The main aim of the resulting publication describes the monitoring methodology of all Carpathian countries for the first time in English.

Brochure on the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030 published

On 20 May, the first birthday of the new EU Biodiversity Strategy, the European Commission published a brochure laying out its ambitious and far-reaching programme of measures to halt and reverse biodiversity loss in the EU and across the globe. The commitments are described under 4 pillars: 1. Protect nature, 2. Restore nature, 3. Enable transformative change and 4. EU action to support biodiversity globally. A clear timetable for action for the European institutions and member states is provided

Factsheets comparing large carnivore management across the EU published

The LIFE EUROLARGECARNIVORES project has produced a range of factsheets about large carnivore management in different countries comparing population statistics and management measures across a range of countries. The information comes from their project partners covering Austria, Croatia, France, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine.

LIFEstockProtect kick-off conference

The LIFEstockProtect project, launched at the end of 2020, aims to establish livestock protection competence centres and to train farmers on livestock protection focused on the German-speaking Alps. On 26 January, an online Alpine Livestock Protection conference was organised. Speakers presented information on the livestock protection measures they are using in different parts of the Alps. 500 participants joined online and the conference was simultaneously translated into English, German and Italian. The conference can still be viewed on YouTube.

Project launched to establish a Dinaric regional platform for large carnivores

A one-year project has been funded by the German Federal Environment Ministry’s Advisory Assistance Programme (AAP) to set up a secretariat and carry out two plenary meetings of a Dinaric regional platform for large carnivores. Covering the countries Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia, the platform is being established to discuss cross-border management and monitoring of large carnivores with national and regional authorities as well as stakeholders. The process builds on the “Budva agreement” which was signed at the Regional meeting of the EU Platform on Coexistence between People and Large Carnivores in Budva in 2018. The project is managed by adelphi and the NGO Carnivora Magna.

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

Platform Participation at Events
LIFE Wolfalps: coordinated actions for wolf-human coexistence across the Alps: online conference, 1 June

The LIFE Wolfalps organised their first online conference with 648 participants from 29 countries. At the conference, Marco Cipriani from Directorate-General for Environment (DG ENV) of the European Commission gave a comprehensive overview of the work of the EU Platform and the regional platforms as instruments to work towards human-large carnivores coexistence. He also presented the work the platform has carried out on the rural development funding for prevention measures, as well as all the EU conservation actions for biodiversity, from the habitat directive to the European strategy for biodiversity. In addition, Angelo Salsi, head of LIFE and CIP Eco-Innovation unit gave an overview of LIFE contribution to large carnivore conservation in Europe. Luigi Boitani, president of the Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe, moderated a round table which included Nicola Notaro, Head the Nature Unit DG ENV, to reflect on future scenarios at the European Union level to ensure the conservation of large carnivores and ensure a sustainable coexistence with human activities. The conference can be watched again online.

Upcoming Events
IUCN World Conservation Congress, 2-11 September

Bookings are open for the congress, organised together with the French government in Marseille. This year the congress will take place as a hybrid event with both in-person and online participation possible.

Case Study in Focus
Transborder-Monitoring of Brown Bears Using Hair-Trapping | Norway, Finland and Russia

The project involved hair trapping in an area covering 1400 square kilometres of bear habitat in the far north of Europe, close to the Barents Sea in Norway, Finland and Russia. The area includes the Pasvik-Inari-Trilateral Park and the Vätsäri Wilderness Area Natura 2000 area in Finland. Motion-triggered wildlife cameras were also set up in several locations. During the 70-day monitoring phase in summer, the project team checked the traps every second week and moved them within the grid square to another location halfway through the period. This monitoring is then repeated every four years.

The monitoring shows that the brown bear population of Pasvik-Inari-Pechenga seems stable and shows high genetic variability. Moreover, A total of 13 new bears were identified in 2015 as compared to 4 in 2011. Two individuals were detected in two countries, and one individual were detected in grids in all three countries. The monitoring and research efforts are being expanded to additional areas in the region (Anarjohka and Troms regions in Norway), which will give a more comprehensive picture on the population. Hair-trapping can lead to a substantial increase in the number of detected bears in a study area. Ultimately, the action increased the amount of information and improved estimates of the number of brown bears, especially in inaccessible, natural areas. This creates a much better basis for wildlife and predator management as foundation for decision making.

Further information about this case study is available here.

About this Newsletter

This newsletter is issued twice a year and produced by the EU Large Carnivore Platform Secretariat (adelphi consult GmbH and Callisto) on behalf of the Platform members. It aims to present the Platform’s work to the public.

The newsletter does not necessarily reflect the official view of the Platform members or the European Commission.

Visit the EU Large Carnivore Platform

Subscribe | Unsubscribe
The European Commission is committed to personal data protection. Any personal data is processed in line with the Regulation (EU) 2018/1725. Please read the privacy statement