A recently released report revealed the remarkable comeback of 37 species of widlife in Europe over the past 50 years. Among others the Eurasian Beaver, European Bison and White-tailed Eagle are highlighted as ‘comeback’ species.
Scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), BirdLife International and the European Bird Census Council (EBCC) worked with species experts from across Europe in this first ever in-depth study, and gathered relevant data about the distribution and abundance of selected species. The resulting report, Wildlife Comeback in Europe, describes not only the increase of the population size of 37 mammal and bird species but even shows that some species have reclaimed their former European territory.
An Eurasian beaver in nature:
(Credit: Rewilding Europe)
Gerbrandy officially received a copy of the report during an event at the London Zoo on 26 September. He referred to the amazing resilience of nature and the importance of EU policy. The Birds and Habitats Directives, the Natura 2000 network of protected areas and the Water Framework Directive are credited for supporting this comeback of wildlife in Europe.
Nevertheless, despite the return of an impressive number of European mammals and birds, the European biological diversity is still losing grounds. The large historical species’ numbers decline should be taken into account when considering the relevance of the report outcome. Many species that suffered a decline in distribution and abundance since the mid-20th century, such as Eurasian lynx, grey wolf and red kite, have not yet reached the level necessary to secure sustainable populations.
But this report shows that there is still this glimmer of hope for nature. When sufficient resources and appropriate efforts are effectively orchestrated with concerted conservation actions, it can lead to a wildlife comeback in Europe, even from the brink of extinction. An excellent example is the European bison, the largest herbivore in Europe. It went extinct in the wild in the early 20th century due to severe hunting pressure and habitat loss. After a large-scale breeding and reintroduction programme supported by zoological gardens, and based on the 13 breeding individuals remaining in captivity, wild populations have been re-established in areas of central and eastern Europe, with a stronghold in Poland and Belarus.
Short interview with Frans Schepers, Managing Director of Rewilding Europe:
(Credit: Rewilding Europe)
The ‘Wildlife Comeback in Europe’ report was commissioned by Rewilding Europe, an organisation founded in 2011 and working to “Make Europe a Wilder place”, with wildlife, wild nature, natural processes and the “Business case for the Wild” as some of its key elements. The work was funded by valuable grants from the Swedish Postcode Lotteries, the Liberty Wildlife Fund and ARK Nature. The work was executed by researchers from the Zoological Society of London, BirdLife International, the European Bird Census Council and many more.
The above news item is reprinted from materials available at Rewilding Europe and BirdLife International. Original text may be edited for content and length.
(Source: Rewilding Europe news, 26.09.2013; BirdLife International news, 27.09.2013)