On 6th of September, 2017, the conference “Young Hunters: Securing a future for Europe’s biodiversity”, hosted by MEP Karl-Heinz Florenz, President of Intergroup “Biodiversity, Hunting, Countryside”, and by MEP Bendt Bendtsen, Vice-President of the Intergroup, and organised in conjoint with the 40th Anniversary of FACE- Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation of the EU, gathered together policy makers, experts and organisations to discuss the future of hunting in an increasingly urbanised world as well as the contribution of European hunters to the goals of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020.
The panelists also focused on how best to support the contribution of hunting – especially by young hunters – to nature conservation and wildlife management.
Karmenu Vella– Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries – opened the event, and highlighted the role what hunters bring to the protection of Europe’s biodiversity.
“And there is a real symbiosis at work here. The hunting community needs healthy biodiversity. And when biodiversity is healthy, it’s often because communities have come together to recognise their common interest to keep it in balance. I have always believed that hunting can be a positive force for conservation, provided it’s carried out in a responsible, sustainable manner.”
He underlined the positive examples written in the Biodiversity Manifesto, which gives an excellent overview of how targeted actions by hunters contribute to the EU Biodiversity Strategy goals. It is proven that hunters are increasingly involved in habitat management and restoration. He added that hunters have a very important task in making sure that the EU policies are effectively implemented on the ground, and they are the ones who enjoy the ecosystem services generated by the EU nature and biodiversity.
“Because like you, I believe in the role of hunting, and like you, I believe it relies on sustainable conservation and use of biodiversity.”
Janneke Eigeman, Head of Communication at the Royal Dutch Hunting Association(KNJV), highlighted some positive developments with regard to young hunters. For example, in the Netherlands around 50% of thepeople obtaining their hunters permit are youngsters. To promote hunting to younger generations, she explained the need to establish mentoring programmes such as KNJV’s mentorship programme, linking older and experienced hunters to new and younger hunters.
The conference acknowledged the role of new technology as a powerful opportunity to build networks of young hunters. Jean Pierre Ferraro, Danish entrepreneur and co-founder of Nyjæger.dk and Huntappvisor presented how new technologies can help young hunters to create such networks.
David Plaz, from the “Young Opinion” network of the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) representative, stressed the urgent need for well-funded communication campaigns to ensure the social sustainability hunting in an increasingly urbanised world. He also encouraged hunting associations to continue promote the value of game meat to wider society.
Austin Weldon, from the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) demonstrated the positive contribution of hunting and shooting in the UK to nature conservation. In doing so, he showed how GWCT successfully engages with younger generations, giving them opportunities to learn and develop a passion for conservation. He also referred to the Perdix Portalas a means to show how the internet can be successfully used to support and inform best practice community based conservation.
At the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of FACE, CIC President, George Aman congratulated the organisation for its work over these four decades, underlined the need of an even stronger FACE-CIC co-operation, and added: “We need a strong FACE in Brussels!”
Source: FACE; website of the Commissioner Karmenu Vella