Rewilding Europe was delighted to welcome the ERN’s 50th member in January. The Carnivores.cz initiative is a conservation programme of Friends of the Earth Czech Republic, supporting the natural recovery of wolves, lynx and bears in the Western Carpathians.
Growing rapidly since it was founded in October 2013, the influence and outreach of the ERN has gone from strength to strength. From Spain to Sweden, Bulgaria to Belgium, current members hail from 25 countries across Europe. Their rewilding activities extend over 10,000 square kilometres.
— “Welcoming our 50th member is a fantastic achievement,” says Yvonne Kemp, ERN Coordinator. “I think it demonstrates that rewilding is an increasingy recognized and growing force for positive change in Europe.”
The ERN operates on a stronger together philosophy. Members meet regularly – usually via webinar – to share knowledge, insight and examples of best practice. In 2016, representatives of 17 countries participated in such webinars, illustrating the broad interest in rewilding related topics across the continent.
With interest in rewilding in Europe on such an upward trajectory, there will undoubtedly be more new members joining the ERN in 2017. Kemp anticipates a bright future for the network.
— “We’re an open community and always eager to welcome newcomers,” she says. “But it’s really about quality, not quantity. The projects of our members are real showcases for rewilding. As a platform for communication and collaboration, the ERN stimulates and underpins progress in rewilding right across the continent.”
Miroslav Kutal, team leader of the Carnivores.cz monitoring and conservation project, is eager to benefit from the ERN’s expertise and experience, as well as to share insight from his team’s own work.
— “I’m really looking forward to participating this year,” he says. “Wilderness is not essential for large carnivore recovery in Europe. But we need large areas in Europe without large scale human intervention to relax, help us understand how nature will deal with climate change, and show us how large carnivores can reshape forests if they’re allowed to make a comeback.”
The main threats to wolf, lynx and bear populations in the Western Carpathians are poaching, hunting and habitat fragmentation. As they work to boost carnivore numbers, Carnivores.cz is now looking for volunteers to help with monitoring.
— “Although the Carpathians hosts one the largest population of wolves, lynx and bears in Europe, we don’t know that much about their real numbers and drivers behind population fluctuation,” says Kutal. “Volunteers can really help us to gain knowledge in the Western Carpathians, near the borders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland.”
Those interested in volunteering should visit the Carnivores.cz website here.
Some of the topics for ERN webinars planned in 2017 include human-wildlife coexistence, habitat restoration, natural grazing and eco-tourism. Rewilding Europe extends a warm welcome to rewilding initiatives that are not yet part of the network – information on applying for membership can be found online here.