When it comes to species conservation and management at the EU level, four large carnivores present the greatest challenge: the brown bear (Ursus arctos), the wolf (Canis lupus), the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), and the wolverine (Gulo gulo). This is due to their biological needs; their natural territories are very large and extend across national borders. In addition, their proliferation is controversial given the potential conflict with agriculture, forestry and hunting. Only in rare cases do these animals pose a danger to human life.
Local habitat regeneration, growing prey populations, government support and favourable legislation have contributed to the recovery of some large carnivore populations in the EU. At the same time, the issue remains complicated as populations are subject to different protection statuses and socio-economic conditions. In addition, political, socio-economic and societal changes call into question traditional management methods. For this reason, close cooperation among the various stakeholders involved in large carnivore management remains a major objective for the European Commission. The recent EU Action Plan for nature, people and the economy reflects this.
In June 2014, the European Commission launched the EU Platform on Coexistence between People and Large Carnivores to address the social and economic challenges associated with the re-population of these species. Platform participants and the European Commission agreed to promote initiatives to reduce conflict, share knowledge and experience, and encourage collaboration.
One year later, the platform’s Secretariat was established, headed by adelphi and the Greek environmental NGO Callisto. The tasks of the Secretariat include the collection of case studies that facilitate the coexistence of humans and large carnivores; networking with regional and local platforms; the exploration of public support measures; and the investigation of fear and risk perception related to large carnivores.