Conclusions

The last 40–50 years have seen a dramatic reversal in fortune for many large carnivore and large herbivore species. When the focus moves beyond saving them from extinction it is logical to begin exploring long-term conservation goals. It may be possible to create some areas with full species assemblages and a minimum of direct human interference on the species and their habitat (see Chap. 9). Such areas are clearly of a high degree of conservation and scientific interest. However, the spatial scales at which the dynamics of large carnivores and large herbivores occur and the huge human pressure on space and resources in Europe will inevitably lead to a range of subtle human influences on these areas, and will prevent these approaches from having general value at large scales. Therefore, we believe that defining goals in terms of “wilderness” and “natural ecological processes” (in ways that exclude humans and human activities) has very little relevance as a general model for large carnivore conservation in Europe. In contrast, because all these species have shown a high degree of tolerance for many human activities it is possible to imagine a future based on “coexistence” where they are integrated into a very large proportion of the wider multi-use landscape. This will permit a large degree of wildness to appear in many areas. The challenge will not be to minimise human impacts on them, but to find ways for these interactions to occur in a sustainable manner. This future will have fallen outside many of the conventional “rewilding” philosophies, which often have retrospective and hands-off connotations. It is a state that has rarely been achieved before and will require constant management and intervention. Within this framework, there is enormous scope for creating a “new-wild” which is built on such key ideas as diversity, interaction, tolerance, sustainability, and coexistence.

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