"To maintain and restore, in coexistence with people, viable populations of large carnivores as an integral part of ecosystems and landscapes across Europe"
As the glaciers retreated from the European landscape at the end of the ice-age, humans were quick to colonise the emerging land. During the 10.000 years that have passed since then, the human population of Europe has grown to its present 500 million, and our influence on the landscape has been considerable.
Today, there are no true wilderness areas left in Europe where nature holds sway without at least some humans influence. However, a surprising amount of wildlife has survived, including most of the large herbivore (red deer, roe deer, wild boar, reindeer, moose, ibex, chamois, ibex, bison) and large carnivore species (brown bear, wolf, wolverine, Eurasian and Iberian lynx).
Many of these species only survived the 19th and 20th centuries by a fine margin, and they are still absent from huge parts of their former range. Luckily, as we enter the 21st century the trends of most populations have improved such that they are stable or increasing in most areas. Wolves, for example, have naturally expanded into France, Germany and Scandinavia, Eurasian lynx have been reintroduced into the Alps, the Jura and Vosges mountains and the northern Balkans and bears have been released in Austria, Italy and France to support existing remnant populations. The challenge for the years to come involves ensuring that these positive trends continue.
Because these species roam over huge areas, our network of national parks and other protected areas are not enough on their own. For large carnivores to have a long term future we have to allow them to spread and reoccupy many of their former habitats - this means reintegrating them into the landscapes where we humans live, and work, and play.
This reintegration requires that we find pragmatic ways to coexist with these species - species which unfortunately can often prove to be rather difficult neighbours. Through the application of both the fruits of modern scientific knowledge and traditional experience the LCIE believe that conflicts can be overcome, or at least minimised, and that large carnivores can be successfully reintegrated into the European landscape.
In 2013 the LCIE developed a more detailed vesion of its vision in the form of a "Manifesto for Large Carnivore Conservation in Europe