Romanian goverment skips EU workshop on bear management

At the beginning of this year, the European Commission established in Hargita (Harghita in Romanian) County a Regional Platform on People and Large Carnivores. The platform’s main purpose is to connect the EU with local stakeholders so that they can discuss potential solutions for conflicts in regard to large carnivores in the national, regional, or local context. On November 19, the Platform held a workshop in Csíkszereda (Miercurea-Ciuc), the purpose of which was to present the platform’s results and to discuss them in a larger, national, or even European context. In the end, the EU representatives and local stakeholders agreed that they need the commitment of the Romanian ministries in order to solve the region’s large carnivore problem. However, the fact that there was no delegate from the Romanian Government present at the debate proves that they are not committed at all and have no interest in solving the problem.

The Regional Platforms on People and Large Carnivores were initiated by the EU Platform on Coexistence between People and Large Carnivores and established by the European Commission. The platforms follow a participatory model. Their aim is to find long-term solutions for conflicts between large predators and humans as well as reduce conflicts between different social groups. These platforms can reinforce and complement larger, macroregional or national action plans and management systems by increasing their effectiveness and strengthening their social acceptance.

Such a regional platform was established in Harghita County in the beginning of the year. Its members are representatives of various groups interested in the bear problem. At the workshop held in Csíkszereda, the main results of the Hargita platform were presented, and aspects of central topics, such as wildlife management, scientific research, and damage management, were discussed.

Jürgen Tack, co-chair of the EU Platform on Coexistence between People and Large Carnivores, concluded at the end of the meeting that it was a shame that the Romanian Government was not represented at the meeting, next to the members of Hargita County and the European platform. There were also other, European umbrella organizations and stakeholders present, including the European Landowners’ Organization (ELO), the European Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FACE), experts from nature protection authorities, and representatives from the European Commission, Romanian research centers, NGOs, and hunting associations. Jürgen Tack underlined, members of the Romanian government should have been present at the meeting.

The co-chair asked the Ministry of Environment to comment on this issue because silence would never solve the problem. He added that the largest bear population of Europe lives in Hargita County and therefore similar large measures are needed to regulate the population and to protect the people living in the area. Unique solutions for tourism are needed as well, as extensive planning is required due to Romania’s large bear population and specific landscape.

According to local news portal maszol.ro, biologist László Demeter said at the meeting that three groups were involved in the platform: farmers (beekeepers or hunters), foresters, and NGOs involved with rural development and nature protection. The main goals and interests of these groups have been compared, an interest analysis was conducted, and a set of criteria to rank different activities was discussed. The groups agreed on several topics, such as the disturbance of natural habitats, how to manage emergency cases, and complementing certain legal deficiencies. After discussing goals and interests, they talked about different courses of action and came up with a detailed plan. Demeter underlined, it is very important that their solution is the result of a grassroots process, and he highlighted the lack of a well-designed, national action plan. The expert added, in order to solve the problem, government representatives and social actors must work together, and funds must be reallocated to implement the plans.

Title image: EU representatives and local stakeholders discussed the main topics of the bear issue. Photo: Hargita County Council

Author: Orsi Sarány