Home Newsletter 2009 What is the LIFE EX-TRA Project?

by Annette Mertens

The conservation of wolves and bears has greatly progressed in the past 30 years, a fact that is also demonstrated by a general increase of the populations of these species around Europe.

However, in some areas large carnivore populations are far from being “safe” from direct human persecution and they also suffer from the secondary effects of an increasing human pressure: decrease of habitat availability, localized scarcity of wild prey and diseases. In specific demographic situations, and as combinations of different factors, these problems can still strongly endanger the predator populations, even in countries such as Romania, where still thousands of wolves and bears live. Special efforts are therefore always needed in order to try to reduce as much as possible the main threats for the survival of these species.

One of the main roadblocks for the long term conservation of wolves and bears is still the conflict with the interests of local populations. Although this threat has been generally recognized decades ago, an optimal tool to prevent it does not exist – wolves and bears still pose threats to human activities (and sometimes to humans), and people still develop negative attitudes towards these species.
In this context the aim of the LIFE EX-TRA project is to improve the know-how of conservation actors in what concerns activities for the conservation of wolves and bears, about essential issues of carnivore conservation: biological and ecological aspects, interactions with other species, conflict management and stakeholder involvement.

The idea of the project has developed from the experiences gathered in frame of the previously developed LIFE COEX Project “Improving Coexistence of Large Carnivores and Agriculture in Europe” (LIFE04NAT/IT/000144), which has taken place from 2004 to 2008. This project has made big efforts and gained consistent experience in the prevention of damage caused on livestock by trying to understand the needs of local farmers and by disseminating the use of effective damage prevention methods such as fencing systems and livestock guarding dogs. In this context the LIFE EX-TRA project aims at transferring good practices to newly involved areas and to share the experiences previously gained by the international project partners.