Wildlife comeback in Europe
The last 50 years have witnessed a significant comeback of some vertebrate species in Europe, while others have experienced dramatic declines in population abundance. A study seeking to identify the main drivers for the recovery of a selected number of species has been published by the Zoological Society of London, BirdLife International and the European Bird Census Council (EBCC).
The results of this new report show that a wide-ranging comeback of iconic mammals and birds has taken place in many regions across Europe. Legal protection of species and sites emerged as one of the main reasons behind this recovery, while active reintroductions and re-stockings have also been important factors.
Whilst this suggests that nature conservation works, more commitment, resources and new kinds of conservation measures are needed in order to halt biodiversity loss and restore other declining and depleted species.
The Rewilding Europe initiative was launched in 2010 as a landscape scale ecosystem approach to creating more space for native European wildlife. Targeted 'rewilding' of large, abandoned agricultural areas could return them back to suitable habitat for many species and provide a use to humans through the economic benefits of tourism and ecosystem services. The project aims to rewild five initial areas spanning seven countries (Figure 1) as part of the general objective of creating at least 1 million hectares of new wildlands across Europe by 2020.
Figure 1. The five pilot areas for Rewilding Europe: Danube Delta, Eastern Carpathians, Southern Carpathians, Velebit and Western Iberia.