By Tibor Hartel
This entry was inspired from recent news in BBC. The particular country names are unimportant – it can be any European country. What seems to be important is the relationship between nature and us and our whole economic and social situation, from which seems that it is very hard to escape (a widely applied method in the modern society to escape this situation is to create illusions – conservation science may be one such an illusion). And the eternal story: whenever is the case, nature and wilderness should suffer because nothing can stop our development.
A recent news in BBC shows that those ca 270 wolves from Sweden (or ca 260-330 for Scandinavia according to other sources) are too much for this country: they cause ‘huge’ (financial) damages for people and the country seems to not be able to cope with this problem. The population size of the wolves should be, therefore, reduced. The surface area of Sweden is about 450,295 square kilometres, and the human population density is 21 per square kilometres with most of population concentrated to the southern part of the country. Circa 17% (ok, say 20!) of the population lives in rural areas. Besides this, there are many institutions in Sweden dedicated to biological conservation and nature resource management which pump probably several thousands of papers in strong scientific journals in the fields of conservation and applied ecology. The gross domestic product (GDP) is between the highest of Europe in this country.
By contrast, Romania has a surface of ca. 238,400 square kilometres with a human population density of ca 80 per square kilometre. Nearly half of the Romanian population lives in farmlands. Romania has ca 4000 wolves and ca 6000 bears. They also make problems (perceived or real) for people and there is a huge environmentalist resistance (Romanian and foreign) against shooting them. Romania is famous for the corrupt governance, low(est) GDP in Europe, ethnic conflicts, lack of competitiveness in science at international level and so on. However, Europe`s highest large carnivore populations are in Romania, and the traditional farmlands of Romania (hay meadows and pastures) are between the richest on the world in terms of plant diversity. Ironically, this exceptional natural heritage is inherited from the traditional societies, who never had institutions for biodiversity conservation! Romania should protect this heritage as a common international value.
Can somebody give an advice on how to cope with 4000 wolves and 6000 bears and also allow development in Romania when other countries with high GDP and high profile conservation research cannot do that with 250 wolves? It seems sometimes that conservation biology and related stuff works well on papers but not in the real world (I think this is a societal weakness).