Motion for a resolution - B9-0520/2022Motion for a resolution
B9-0520/2022

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the protection of livestock farming and large carnivores in Europe

21.11.2022 - (2022/2952(RSP))

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Commission
pursuant to Rule 132(2) of the Rules of Procedure

Clara Aguilera, César Luena
on behalf of the S&D Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B9-0503/2022

Procedure : 2022/2952(RSP)
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B9-0520/2022
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B9-0520/2022
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B9‑0520/2022

European Parliament resolution on the protection of livestock farming and large carnivores in Europe

(2022/2952(RSP))

The European Parliament,

 having regard to its resolution of 28 November 2019 on the climate and environment emergency[1],

 having regard to its resolution of 9 June 2021 on the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030: Bringing nature back into our lives[2],

 having regard to Rule 132(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas the European Union is home to five species of large carnivore, the brown bear, the wolf, the wolverine and two species of lynx, the Eurasian lynx and the Iberian lynx; whereas historically these species have all suffered dramatic declines in numbers and distribution as a consequence of human activity; whereas large carnivores are predators and are at the top of the trophic pyramid of the ecosystem; whereas some large carnivores are also scavengers (e.g. wolverines) and therefore also play a sanitary role in the ecosystem; whereas, furthermore, large omnivorous large carnivore species (e.g. brown bears) contribute through their diet cycle to plant and fruit seeds dispersal thus enhancing the vegetation structure and diversity in a given ecosystem; whereas they provide key ecosystem services and play a crucial ecological role, balancing the overall function of natural ecosystems;

B. whereas over the last few decades, most populations of large carnivores, such as Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), brown bears (Ursus arctos), grey wolves (Canis lupus) and jackals (Canis aureus) have successfully increased in Europe, returning to areas where they were previously locally extinct; whereas in the last 10 years, an increase of over 25 % in wolf range has been reported in Europe according to a 2022 assessment of the conservation status of the wolf (Canis lupus) in Europe[3]; whereas this shows that investments in conservation and cooperation between many different stakeholders, as well as the legislative framework in the EU Habitats Directive and the Bern Convention are paying off;

C. whereas despite the recovery of many large carnivore populations, they continue to face significant threats such as poaching and habitat fragmentation or degradation; whereas according to the most recent available scientific information[4] only 3 out of 9 wolf populations in Europe are listed as ‘least concern’ (according to the IUCN Red List), only 3 out of 10 brown bear populations are in this category and only 3 out of 11 Eurasian lynx populations are of ‘least concern’; whereas wolverine populations in Europe remain threatened (vulnerable) and the Iberian lynx is still endangered, though its population reached 1 365 individuals in 2021[5];

D. whereas coexistence with large carnivores can cause conflicts with human socioeconomic interests; whereas solutions to prevent and mitigate conflicts exist, but awareness of these solutions is still low and implementation has been patchy; whereas conflict can range from perceived abstract risk to damage on livestock and property, and in rare cases, unwanted close encounters and human casualties;

E. whereas according to reports[6], given the absence of large areas of wilderness in Europe, wolves have almost entirely re-established populations in highly human-modified landscapes, where humans raise livestock, hunt wild ungulates and use forests and mountains for tourism and recreation;

F. whereas large carnivore conservation and management should focus on long-term viable populations and maintaining favourable conservation status for large carnivore populations in Europe; whereas according to the EU Habitats Directive, large carnivores should have a future in coexistence with people and as an integral part of ecosystems and landscapes across Europe;

G. whereas the monitoring and management of wolves, bears and jackals is the responsibility of national authorities and does not occur at the European level; whereas monitoring approaches vary greatly, leading to heterogeneous quality and quantity of data on large carnivore population levels;

H. whereas wolf depredation of livestock is the main cause of intolerance towards wolves in human-dominated landscapes, where it leads to substantial losses of about 40 000 head per year, especially affecting sheep, semi-domestic reindeer and, locally, dogs[7]; whereas some countries are disproportionately affected, depending on local ecological (alternative prey) and socioeconomic conditions (husbandry methods, prevention measures, management plans, compensation regulations applied, national institutions responsible) as well as the size of their national distribution range[8]; whereas domesticated animals, particularly in pasture and open grazing systems, are put at higher risk of depredation (depending on the measures put in place and their effectiveness) by the growing presence of large carnivores;

I. whereas livestock grazing and extensive pastoral farming contribute in preserving local breeds and biodiversity; whereas pasture farming, especially in mountain areas, is an important ecological and cultural asset;

J. whereas constructive coexistence between large carnivores and livestock farming is needed, where the conservation status of large carnivores can continue to develop favourably while farmers would be given the tools and sufficient financing to address and prevent attacks on farm animals;

K. whereas effective and appropriate conflict prevention and mitigation practices need to be in place; whereas all management decisions should be based on science and sound data, should integrate ecological, social and economic perspectives; whereas additional efforts for the monitoring of large carnivore populations and assessment of positive and negative effects of large carnivore presence will be necessary;

1. Welcomes the positive results of biodiversity policies on the restoration of large carnivore species in the EU; notes that the increased presence of large carnivores can have positive effects on ecosystem functioning and resilience, the conservation of biodiversity and ecological processes, contributing inter alia to regulating populations of wild ungulates;

2. Notes the importance of ensuring a balanced coexistence between humans and animals, in particular in rural areas; recalls that large carnivores, especially wolves and bears, can have an impact on the viability of farming, particularly in extensively managed farmland rich in biodiversity; calls on the Commission and the Member States, in this regard, to take concrete action to ensure this coexistence, so as not to compromise the sustainable development and dynamism of rural areas, and in particular to safeguard traditional agricultural practices such as pastoralism;

3. Takes note of the Commission’s updated guidance document on the strict protection of animal species of Community interest under the Habitats Directive published on 12 October 2021[9]; stresses the Commission’s responsibility to keep its guidance up to date, where appropriate, on the strict protection of animal species of Community interest under the Habitats Directive, including on the interpretation of Articles 12 and 16 thereof;

4. Highlights the need for a regular monitoring of large carnivore populations in order to strategically plan conservation actions, implement preventive schemes to reduce conflicts and to evaluate the results of all actions; remarks that monitoring should be based on a robust methodology, should promote and facilitate the participation of different stakeholders and that its results should be regularly communicated to society and main stakeholders groups;

5. Urges the Commission and Member States, therefore, to organise opportunities for different stakeholders, including rural actors, to discuss large carnivores; urges them to provide information on financing possibilities for preventive measures against attacks on livestock; calls on the Commission to further promote a constructive Union-level dialogue between stakeholders on coexistence between humans, livestock and large carnivores, such as through the EU Platform on Coexistence between People and Large Carnivores, and to support the development of coordinated approaches across Member States;

6. Recalls that derogations should only be used in line with the Habitats Directive and the Bern Convention on a case-by-case basis when all other alternative solutions have failed; calls on the Member States to make sure that flexibility for controlling large carnivores, including bears, is clearly separate from the hunting activity;

7. Stresses that climate change, economic crises and the increasing predation affect mountain farms more severely; draws attention, in particular, to the fact that the increase in wolf predation is having a more severe impact on livestock farms in the mountains; points out that holdings in mountainous areas are small and face high additional costs and should be protected and encouraged as they can help to preserve mountain landscapes and safeguard biodiversity in inhospitable regions;

8. Regrets the fact that Member States use different surveying and monitoring methods; calls on the Commission to ensure that Member States use appropriate monitoring methods for each of the different large carnivore species; stresses that monitoring should be coordinated through the harmonisation of methodologies, especially for transnational populations, in order to obtain the most accurate data on respective populations in their biogeographic regions within the Member States concerned; calls on the Member States to be comprehensive in the two yearly reporting on the implementation of Article 16 and to include in these reports all relevant information, including the monitoring of the impact of derogations;

9. Underlines the fact that most large carnivore populations in Europe are transboundary, which requires cooperation across administrative boundaries; calls on Member States, therefore, to develop and regularly update comprehensive and, preferably, transboundary multinational action plans, whose development and implementation should require the participation of various stakeholders through an inclusive process;

10. Calls on Member States to adequately report on the conservation status of habitats and species, on compensation measures taken for projects having a negative impact on Natura 2000 sites and on derogations they may have allowed for strict protection measures; stresses the importance for Member States to also collect information and report on the damages provoked by large carnivores;

­11. Calls on the Member States to set an effective legal and institutional framework for supporting farmers and breeders in making coexistence possible, with subsidies for preventive measures, advisory support and financial compensation schemes, and to document incidents; calls on the Commission and the Member States, in this regard, to identify adequate long-term funding opportunities;

12. Calls further on Member States to ensure sufficient capacity and resources to enforce species protection provisions and prosecute poaching and poisoning;

13. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission and the Council.

 

Last updated: 22 November 2022
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