viernes, 21 de septiembre de 2012

Improving coexistence of large carnivores and agriculture in S. Europe: COEX (European Comission, 2004-2008)

To develop the necessary legal and socio-economic conditions for the conservation of large carnivores in the target areas by reducing conflict situations that affect the conservation of these species, through a participatory approach.

Map of general location of the project areas

Actions and means involved
The main fields of activity involved in the present project will be
• The implementation of the use of effective damage prevention methods, such as the use of electric fences, high-quality and well-trained livestock guarding dogs, the optimal use of traditional fences and the management of livestock in order to reduce the danger of depredation.
• Raising the awareness of the general public and of farmers on the ways of coexistence between large carnivores and human activities.
• The improvement of mitigation systems such as damage compensation to turn them into tools that can effectively reduce the economic damage farmers suffer.
• Management actions to prevent conflict situations caused by stray dogs and bears feeding on garbage and the accidental killings of wolves and bears during wild boar hunts.
• Raising awareness of farmers about the potential economic benefit that non-consumptive use of carnivores can provide.
• The transfer of experience and best practice from areas that have developed efficient ways to solve the conflicts onto areas that report similar problematic conflict situations.
• Monitoring the effectiveness of the implemented measures in order to identify particular situations where the measures can work best and to find optimal combinations of strategies for different contexts.
Expected results
• The amount of damage on livestock, beehives and crops has decreased by 20%.
• The use of effective damage prevention techniques is known to 80% of the farmers in the involved project areas.
• The attitudes and knowledge of farmers and of the general public about large carnivores have improved.
• Effective compensation systems exist in the target areas.
• An action plan for the management of stray dogs is in place and accepted by the local authorities.
• The awareness of farmers about the potential economic benefit they can gain from the presence of carnivores has increased.
• The numbers of habituated bears has decreased.

Specie targeted: Canis lupus

Ecology: Wolves are generalist predators; they commonly prey according to availability of prey in the areas they inhabit. Their diet may include medium to large prey such as roe deer and wild boar (Sus scrofa), as well as rabbits, invertebrates, vegetables and carcasses. Domestic livestock, particularly sheep, are killed for food. A pack is generally a family unit that originates from a mating pair established in a territory. The relationships between the members of a pack are extremely dynamic, but dominated by a very well established hierarchy. Wolves live in packs of variable size, depending on the area they live in. In Southern Europe packs are usually composed of the mating pair and their offspring only. Generally, only one pair mates in each pack, usually the dominant one, so-called alpha pair, but exceptions have been recorded both in Europe and North America. An average of six pups per litter are produced after a two month-period of gestation. Wolves inhabit extremely diverse areas, and their presence has been recorded virtually everywhere humans do not persecute them. Human disturbance and prey availability are the variables that influence their presence the most.

General distribution of the specie at European and national level and population trends: The actual European wolf consists of four large nuclei: the Scandinavian – Carpathian, the Dinaric – Balkan, the Italian and the Spanish ones. The overall population was reduced after WWII mainly due to human pressure, and has been recovering since the early 1970s. It is now expanding naturally into areas where it was locally extinct. The European wolf population is now estimated at around 15,000 individuals. In Spain, the population is expanding south of the Duero river, while in the Alps it is regaining areas of the Swiss and French part of the mountain range from the Italian part. The trend of the European wolf population is locally stable but in many areas increasing.

Size of the population targeted by the project (e.g. n° of individuals, % of European and/or national population): The project will include actions in selected areas within all the partner countries. Information will be given on a country basis.
Portugal: The Portuguese wolf population holds approx. 300 individuals (2% of the European wolf population), 90% of which inhabits the area north of River Douro (the Duero River in Spain). They are in continuity with the Spanish population. The study area includes two sites: the wolf range south to Douro River, and the central part of the population north of it. The former is isolated from the other Iberian wolf nuclei and is made of 6 packs with approx. 30 individuals (10% of the total Portuguese wolf population). The latter includes 12 packs with a total of approx. 60 wolves (20% of the total Portuguese wolf population).
Spain: The Spanish wolf population counts more than 2,000 animals, concentrated mainly in the north-western part of the country. Castilla y León region hosts approx. 1,000-1,500 wolves, representing 50-75% of the national population. The region south of the river Duero was recently recolonised by the species. Approximately 20 packs live inside this area, for a total of 100-140 individuals. This is 5-7% of the national population and 0.9% of the European population.
France: According to recent surveys the French wolf population amounts to approximately 40-50 individuals and is limited to the French Alps, where the species has expanded from the Italian Alps. As far as the bear is concerned, there are two population nuclei in the Central Pyrenees with approx. 10 individuals, and 1 population nucleus of 5-6 individuals ca. in the Western Pyrenees.
Italy: the Italian wolf population amounts to approx. 500 individuals (3% of the European population). Wolves are expanding in Umbria region, where signs of presence have been recently found in the Monte Cucco area. In the Abruzzi Region, hosting three of the project sites (i.e., Abruzzi National Park (PNALM), Majella National Park (PNM) and Gran Sasso – Monti della Laga National Park (PNGL)) there are around 100-120 individuals, the populations in the three parks probably being connected. This is 30% of the national population. The three parks represent most of the central Italian population of bears, of a small guestimated size of approx. 30-40 individuals, i.e. 70% of the National population and 0.07% of the European one.
Croatia: The Croatian wolf population seems to be stable around 150 individuals. This animal causes extensive damage on livestock (mostly sheep), and this causes a low level of human acceptance. The Croatian brown bear population numbers 400 – 600 individuals ca. over a range of 11,800 km2. Bears cause increasing damage on human activities, which includes livestock rising, agricultural fields and orchards. This also causes the fear of humans in areas where the species was not previously present and is now expanding into.

Threat 1: Increase of LC-human conflict due to inadequate use of damage prevention measures.

Threat 3: Negative attitude of local communities and farmers

Threat 4: Resentful farmers due to inefficient compensation systems

Threat 5: Human caused mortality due to accidental killing during wild boar hunting

Threat 6: Cumulative effect of damage caused by stray dogs

Threat 7: Economic discontent of farmers
Conservation measures already taken or proposed for the species at Community or national level: Wolves are at least partially protected in all the project countries. In Spain they are protected only south of the Duero River. In the remaining countries they are protected nationwide. The wolf is a species included in the appendix II of the Bern Convention and in Appendix II of the Habitat Directive for only those populations south of river Duero in Spain (target of the present project). The remaining wolf population is included in appendix IV of the Habitat Directive. All the countries participating to the present project have adhered to the Bern Convention and implemented the Habitat Directive through National Protection Laws.

Improving coexistence of large carnivores and agriculture in S. Europe: COEX (European Comission, 2004-2008) (Ver COEX: )

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