European Newsletter
January 2014
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Dear Members, Dear Readers,

First of all, I warmly wish you a Happy New Year!


Last year was an exciting year for IUCN in Brussels and I would like to thank you all on behalf of the IUCN European Union Representative Office for supporting the organisation in Europe and beyond. We have great expectations for 2014, which will be a year full of events and important milestones for nature conservation in Europe.


One highlight of our recent work is the focus on Europe’s large carnivores. Large carnivores are fascinating animals, but have always had a complicated relationship with humans. Together with the IUCN’s Large Carnivores Initiative for Europe, we are implementing a project to identify practical approaches to help ensure a favourable conservation status of the main European large carnivore species and to secure their coexistence with humans by reducing conflicts where they arise.


Editorial by Luc Bas, Director of IUCN European Union Representative Office

> Read more
Luc Bas, Director IUCN EU Representative Office

European large carnivores – a surprising success story

Europe is home to five species of large carnivores: the Wolf (Canis lupus), the Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx), the Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus), the Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) and the Wolverine (Gulo gulo). Over recent centuries they have been heavily persecuted by humans for a range of reasons, which led to historic lows in their distribution and density in the mid 20th century.


The Habitats Directive, adopted by the European Union around 20 years ago, protects the five European large carnivore species to varying degrees and provides some continental scale harmonization of legislation. This legislation has made it possible for the carnivores to come back in some parts of Europe and to reinforce their presence where they already occurred. This recovery has created a range of challenges for many people with whom they share the landscape.


IUCN’s work on large carnivores is supported by the Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe Specialist Group established in 2010 as part of the Species Survival Commission.

> Read more on European Large Carnivores
> IUCN's project on Large Carnivores
Large Carnivores in Europe

Wolves return to unlikely places

It has long been known that Wolves are highly adaptable species. The return of breeding Wolves to Germany during the last 14 years, and the recent arrival of dispersing wolves in Denmark, is a striking example of just how well Wolves can adapt to human-dominated landscapes. This natural recovery of Wolves in extreme landscapes provides a foundation for a great deal of optimism for large carnivore conservation.


Wolves were eradicated from Germany and other countries in the northwest of the continent during the 19th century. During the 20th century the landscape of Germany was transformed into one of the most human-dominated landscapes in Europe, with intensive agriculture, industrial forestry, massive infrastructure development and widespread urbanisation. Not exactly the wilderness with which Wolves have long been associated in the popular imagination... 

> Read more
Camera trap picture of a young Wolf

INTERVIEW with Commissioner Potočnik: Focusing on large carnivores

European Commissioner for Environment Janez Potočnik answered IUCN questions about large carnivores conservation policy.

Q: Commissioner Potočnik, can you share any personal experience or encounter that you have had with large carnivores?

As I have always said, I am a farmer's son who grew up in the countryside in Slovenia where coexistence with large carnivores was accepted as part of rural life. I can't honestly say I ever had to run from a bear as a boy, but I do remember a feeling of wonder, fear and pride at the thought of the wild biodiversity we knew to be nearby...

> Read more
Commissioner Janez Potocnik

The threats to European large carnivores

Europe's large carnivores occupy landscapes that are more or less totally dominated by human activity. Humans have greatly modified the landscape structure, fragmented it with infrastructures and actively exploit all trophic levels. Although European carnivores are doing surprisingly well, the fact that their lives are so interweaved with humans results in their conservation being very dependent on human activities. 


Experts from all across Europe have recently completed a threat assessment for Brown Bears, Wolves, Eurasian Lynx and Wolverines across the continent. Although habitat fragmentation and disturbance were frequently identified as low intensity issues, the most important threats were focused on conflict issues such as livestock depredation, low levels of tolerance among some rural stakeholders, and low institutional capacity among responsible authorities.

> Read more
Poached Wolf in West Poland in 2013

Using European LIFE funding to conserve Wolves

From a biodiversity point of view Slovenia is one of Europe's crown jewels. The country has some of the best preserved and best managed forests, which have had a continual presence of Bears and Wolves, with Lynx being reintroduced in the 1970's. Despite this continual presence of large carnivores throughout the 20th century, the conservation of Wolves is presenting a variety of challenges for the 21st century. SLOWOLF, a project funded by the EU's LIFE program has been making significant steps to reduce conflicts and pave the way for a better coexistence between rural people and Wolves...

> Read more
Wolf (Canis lupus)

BLOG: To boldly go where no continent has gone before

John Linnell, senior scientist at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research and member of the IUCN SSC Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe, tells IUCN why he decided to study large carnivores and why he is so fascinated by them. Here is a sneak peek of his blog post:


"Large carnivores are not an easy career path. For the scientist part of me they are difficult and expensive to study. For the conservationist part of me they are associated with a constant round of challenges and conflicts. So why do I do it? Fascination is clearly part a major of the answer..."

> Read more
Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx)

Conserving the most endangered subspecies of Eurasian Lynx in the Balkans

The IUCN Cat Specialist Group has been working with local partners in Macedonia and Albania to clarify the status in those countries. The results of their studies indicate that only 20 to 40 Lynx remain. One national park constitutes their major stronghold, and even this is being threatened by hydropower development.

Eurasian Lynx in Europe survived the bottleneck imposed by the 20th century in four remnant populations. While the populations in Scandinavia, the Baltics and the Carpathians have recovered considerably with number of individuals ranging from hundreds to thousands, one remnant appears to have continued declining...

> Read more
Camera trap picture of Balkan Lynx

Greece's natural wonders

In terms of biodiversity, Greece is one of the richest countries of the European Union. Its diverse features, ranging from high mountains to the deepest waters of the Mediterranean - including a 16,000-km-long coastline and some 10,000 islands - combine with a variable climate, generating a great range of habitat niches and a spectacular flora and fauna.


Greece hosts some 6,600 taxa of vascular plants with the highest number of endemics in Europe (22% of the total indigenous flora). The fauna comprises 115 mammal species, 12 of which are marine, 446 bird, 22 amphibian and 64 reptile species. Moreover, 162 freshwater and 476 marine fish species are hosted in Greece's waters. Some 30,000-50,000 invertebrates are also present, exhibiting a very high degree of endemism, exceeding 50% in some groups.


> Country Focus Greece
> Country Focus Armenia
Monk seal pup

Science first, say 235 experts on the EU proposal on invasive alien species

American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) In November 2013, a group of 235 individual experts and organisations from 36 countries, including 23 EU Member States, published a joint statement calling on the European institutions to adopt a science-based approach for the EU-wide legislation on invasive alien species. The Call was coordinated jointly by BirdLife Europe, IUCN European Union Representative Office and Neobiota.
> Read more
> The need for a strong EU legislation on Invasive Alien Species


European Parliament takes important step to combat Wildlife Crime

Items seized by UK Border Force in 2012 A motion for a Resolution on Wildlife Crime was approved by the European Parliament on 15 January. The Resolution calls for measures against wildlife crime, placing it on the same level as human trafficking and drug trafficking. IUCN strongly welcomes the Resolution and is ready to provide scientific support and engage with related European Institutions.
> Read more


URBES factsheet #4: the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook

factsheet #4 An international team of scientists has produced the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook, a first scientific assessment of how global urbanization trends affect biodiversity and ecosystem dynamics around the world. This URBES factsheet focuses on the key messages produced by the project. 
> Read more


Implementation Plan of the IUCN Programme 2013-2016 in Europe

Implementation Plan of the IUCN Programme 2013-2016 in Europe The "Implementation Plan of the IUCN Programme 2013-2016" in Europe defines the concrete contribution of the IUCN European region to the IUCN Programme in the coming years.
> Read more


Developing sustainable tourism across borders in the Dinaric Arc

Sustainable tourism management in the transboundary areas of the Dinaric Arc region_cover Recently published IUCN’s manual "Sustainable tourism management in the transboundary areas of the Dinaric Arc region" presents the practical steps that need to be implemented in order to secure sustainable tourism development.
> Read more


Private-public partnerships for conservation

European Tree Frog (Hyla arborea) The closing conference of the LIFE+ 3WATER project took place in Brussels last December with the participation of IUCN. The project is a successful example of close cooperation between private landowners, land users, communities, nature organisations, and national and European authorities.
> Read more


Nature: providing solutions to development needs

EDD13 logo Healthy and restored ecosystems can make cost-effective contributions to meeting global challenges. IUCN highlighted this concept at its side event on “Nature-based solutions to development needs” during the European Development Days in Brussels on 26-27 November 2013.
> Read more


European citizens call for more biodiversity conservation

Q7: Opinions on threats to biodiversity Some 25,000 respondents from the 28 EU Member States answered a Flash Eurobarometer survey in June 2013. According to the survey, almost nine out of ten Europeans believe that biodiversity loss is a serious problem in Europe.
> Read more


Debate on the Post-2015 Framework

SDG event invitation On 13-14 February, the conference "A new global partnership: European civil society positions on the post-2015 framework" will bring stakeholders from a range of backgrounds in Brussels, to voice their positions and to debate on the Post-2015 framework.
> Read more


Leaders for Nature Forum 2014

 All Leaders for Nature teams are invited to the 7th Leaders for Nature Forum "Rethinking profit and loss" on 13 February in Amsterdam.
> Project description
> About the meeting


European Natura 2000 Award

Natura 2000 Award The European Commission is launching a new Award designed to celebrate and promote best practices for nature conservation in Europe, aiming at bringing the success of the Natura 2000 network to the public’s attention and demonstrating its importance for protecting biodiversity. Submissions are open until 16 February.
> Read more


Defining the Blue Society concept

Logo Blue Society Expert Group gets ready for its second meeting towards the definition of the Blue Society concept on 13 March.
> Project description
> About the meeting


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IUCN (The International Union for Conservation of Nature) © 2014

IUCN helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges. IUCN’s work focuses on valuing and conserving nature, ensuring effective and equitable governance of its use, and deploying nature-based solutions to global challenges in climate, food and development. IUCN’s European region covers the European continent, North and Central Asia, and includes the European Union overseas entities. Representing one third of the global membership, this is IUCN’s largest programmatic region.

Photo credits: Luc Bas; Large Carnivores in Europe, John Linnell; Camera trap picture of a young Wolf, LUPUS; Janez Potočnik; Poached Wolf in West Poland in 2013, Sabina Novak; Wolf, SloWolf/Miha Krofel; Eurasian Lynx, John Linnell/NINA; Camera trap picture of Balkan Lynx, Balkan Lynx Recovery Programme; Monk seal pup, MOm/ P. Dendrinos; American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus), Flickr/Distant Hill Gardens; Items seized by UK Border Force in 2012, Flickr/ukhomeoffice; URBES factsheet #4, URBES; Implementation Plan of the IUCN Programme 2013-2016 in Europe_cover, IUCN; Sustainable tourism management in the transboundary areas of the Dinaric Arc region_cover, IUCN; European Tree Frog (Hyla arborea), Vladimir Dobretic; Logo, European Development Days 2013; Graph, Flash Eurobarometer; Invitation to the event, European Economic and Social Committee EESC; Logo, Leaders for Nature; Logo, Natura 2000 Award; Logo, Sea for Society.