EU Large Carnivores Platform Annual Meeting
EU Large Carnivore Platform Annual Meeting: Rural Development funds support coexistence
Representatives from landowning, herding, hunting, research and conservation organisations met in Brussels on the 30 th May for the third annual meeting of the EU Platform on Coexistence between People and Large Carnivores. The Platform was established two years ago to promote ways to minimize and find solutions to conflicts between people and large carnivores. During the Plenary meeting, the members reviewed their work from the previous year and discussed future plans.
The European Commission is not a Platform member but was instrumental in establishing the Platform and co-chairs the meetings. Humberto Delgado-Rosa, Director Natural Capital, DG Environment, who was attending his first Platform meeting expressed his gratitude to Members for their contribution to an interesting meeting and continued willingness to work constructively together. “The Commission sees the voluntary nature of the Platform as its particular strength. While it is not a formal expert committee, it is potentially very influential and the Commission has its eyes and ears open to its discussions and findings. The next step will be for the Platform members to communicate further with their own membership so that stakeholders who coexist with large carnivores on the ground have better access to information and advice and can also make their voices heard on the EU-level.”
A particular focus of the agenda was the examination of good practice case studies collected by the Platform members and an assessment of the potential for funding coexistence measures through the EU Rural Development fund (the EAFRD), second pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The Platform members agreed that the case studies demonstrate that, with the necessary support, coexistence can be improved or successful in particular locations in the EU. In some cases, this good practice is transferable, in others not: it is important to take into account the local situation and circumstances.
The EAFRD is a suitable mechanism for financing co-existence. Not only is it available Europe-wide but a broad cross-section of rural stakeholders are eligible to apply to the diverse array of measures included in the fund. Research commissioned by the Platform showed that currently a minimum of 29 Rural Development Programmes in 12 Member States include coexistence measures mainly to fund actions such as installing carnivore-proof fencing and employing livestock guarding dogs. Examples presented from Spain and Greece showed that there are problems with implementation. The opportunities for wider use are however there and there is high potential for improved application in this programming period, for example for information measures, advice provision or establishing eco-businesses. European Commission experts confirmed that suitable measures are included in the EU level regulations but choices need to be made by Members States about using them. The Platform members agreed to work on communicating this message to their members and providing them with the information necessary to request national governments to apply these measures in practice.
The co-chair of the Platform, Thierry de l’Escaille, Secretary General of the European Landowners Organization said, “We already have an understanding of the type of measures which can support coexistence. However, these are of little use if they come with no financial support. Support both for the measures themselves and advice in implementing them is essential. The Rural Development Programme has the potential to do this”.
The EU Platform on Coexistence between People and Large Carnivores is a grouping of organisations representing different interests groups which have agreed a joint mission:
to promote ways and means to minimize, and wherever possible find solutions to, conflicts between human interests and the presence of large carnivore species, by exchanging knowledge and by working together in an open-ended, constructive and mutually respectful way.
The Platform is made up of seven member organisations:
ELO – European landowners’ organization; Joint representatives of Finnish and Swedish reindeer herders; FACE – The European Federation of Associations for Hunting & Conservation; CIC – The International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation; IUCN – The World Conservation Union; European Union Representative Office; WWF – Worldwide Fund for Nature; European Policy Office and EUROPARC Federation.
For more information on the work of the Platform, please see: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/conservation/species/carnivores/coexistence_platform.htm