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Sustainable Wildlife Management workshop: integrating hunting practices with nature conservation planning

Background

Eurosite, along with hosts Natural England and in collaboration with the Hunting Federation of Macedonia & Thrace and Metsähallitus Natural Heritage Services, is holding a workshop about the integration of hunting practices with sustainable nature conservation management planning. The workshop will provide a platform for site managers, hunters and hunting organisations, policy makers and other key stakeholders such as farmers and landowners, to come together to share knowledge, experiences and best practice case studies.

This three-day workshop will include a full day site visit to Elmley National Nature Reserve on the Isle of Sheppey. Elmley NNR is a 1202 hectare grazing marsh, divided by ditches and shallow pools. The area is first and foremost a farm owned and managed by a local farming family. However, the reserve is also a Natural England ‘Approved Body’ reserve and is managed in close collaboration with Natural England. The reserve is home to a wide range of wildlife, including birds of prey, hares, water voles, seals, grass snakes and marsh frogs, as well as grasses and wildflowers seldom seen elsewhere in the UK. Elmley NNR is also a Special Protected Area for Birds (SPA), and is therefore part of the Natura 2000 network. Elmley is a particularly important site for breeding wader populations and is part of a 10 year Higher Level Stewardship management agreement that includes a number of key management principles, including reducing the impact of predators. Since active conservation management began at the site, the breeding success of the wader populations has increased dramatically. Elmley NNR will therefore provide workshop participants with the opportunity to witness first-hand the positive impact of predator control on nature conservation outcomes.

The workshop will also contribute to the preparation of an Advice Paper, which will gather together key recommendations, practical steps and case studies for the integration of hunting practices in the management of Natura 2000 sites and other natural areas, as well as supporting the further development of European Commission policies in this area.

The European Union has already given considerable time and study to the role of hunting in nature conservation through projects such as the Sustainable Hunting Initiative, which was launched in 2001 and is still the basis for several ongoing LIFE projects. The workshop will be an opportunity to promote this and other EU initiatives and publications and these will form a background for discussions at the workshop. The Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation (FACE) created a Biodiversity Manifesto, which was approved in 2012, at a meeting of European Hunting Federations in Athens. The 34 action points of the manifesto address a host of EU biodiversity priority areas and promote cooperation with other sectors and stakeholders, such as farmers, land owners, conservation NGOs and public authorities. This will also form an important background to discussions during the workshop.

There is clearly a strong need for hunters and hunting organisations to exchange knowledge and experience with site managers. Whether the concern is about controlling large carnivore populations in hunting areas, shooting wildfowl or other game for sport, pest control or species management, hunting is a topic that many site managers are likely to encounter at some point. Co-operation between hunting organisations and site managers also has the potential to benefit both parties, as hunting can contribute to conservation efforts, whilst effective nature conservation can help to increase the availability of ‘game’ species. By organising this workshop, Eurosite hopes to bring together nature site managers, hunters and hunting organisations, and other stakeholders in order to realise these mutual benefits and discuss future strategies for sustainable conservation management.

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Download a press release about the workshop.

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