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201329Sep19:52

Remark­able return of Euro­pean species to their nat­ural habitats

Infor­ma­tion
pub­lished 29 Sep­tem­ber 2013 | mod­i­fied 26 July 2014
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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.

European bisonSci­en­tists 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)

I firmly believe that smart invest­ments in nature cre­ate huge eco­nomic oppor­tu­ni­ties and I will con­tinue to work vig­or­ously in Brus­sels to turn the rewil­d­ing of Europe into reality.
Mr Gerben-​Jan Ger­brandy, Mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment and Rap­por­teur for Biodiversity »

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)

UN Biodiversity decade
WWF Stop Wildlife Crime
Fight for Flight campaign
End Ivory-funded Terrorism
Support Rewilding Europe
NASA State of Flux

Goal: 7000 tigers in the wild

Tiger range countries map

Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.

about zoos and their mis­sion regard­ing breed­ing endan­gered species, nature con­ser­va­tion, bio­di­ver­sity and edu­ca­tion, which of course relates to the evo­lu­tion of species.
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