LIFE Bear-Smart Corridors aims to boost populations of Europe’s iconic brown bear in Central Italy and Greece through the development of “coexistence corridors”. Here, local communities are learning to live peacefully alongside this majestic species.
A critically endangered icon
In Europe, 4 of the 10 populations of brown bear are assessed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. Greece harbours Europe’s southernmost population of the species with only 400-500 individuals in two disjunct populations in the Rhodopes and Pindos mountain ranges. The Apennines are home to an endemic subspecies – the Marsican brown bear that is critically endangered and restricted to the central part of the Apennine Mountain chain.
LIFE Bear-Smart Corridors aims to improve conditions for bears in critical dispersal corridors in Italy and Greece. These corridors will link national parks in the region. Ultimately, this will allow the bears to expand their range into new areas.
Withing these aptly named “coexistence corridors” local communities will learn to live alongside the iconic brown bear. Here, the Bear Smart Community model will be adopted, which encourages cooperation between local communities, businesses, and individuals to prevent conflict between bears and humans.
By removing any potential source that could attract bears to urban areas, and by developing ways for communities to benefit from this iconic species in their region, people living here will become ambassadors for the area’s wild nature. At the same time, we are supporting nature-based enterprises in and around corridor areas, and raising awareness amongst local communities and people visiting the area.
Learning by doing
Replicate and adapt the Bear Smart Community concept – which has already been applied successfully in Canada – in Europe by developing examples in Italy and Greece.
Improve coexistence with bears by taking preventative measures and raising awareness in Bear Smart Communities, in order to support the social acceptance of bears.
Remove threats and improve conditions for bears in the coexistence corridors, with a focus on preserving natural food in areas away from towns to reduce the incidence of bears approaching villages.
Develop an enterprise strategy for the project areas which recognises the opportunities for collaboration with the business community to deliver conservation outcomes, revenue generation and benefits for the local communities.
Monitor and improve
With local staff and volunteers, develop dedicated Bear Intervention Units to implement the principles of the Bear Smart Communities, while monitoring and improving human-bear coexistence.
Share developed practices, including the Bear Smart Community concept, to other interested parties, and encourage replication in at least three other areas.
This project is funded by the LIFE programme of the European Union.
Reference code LIFE20 NAT/NL/001107
Duration 5 years
Total budget €5,855,772
EU contribution €4,391,824
Disclaimer: The LIFE Bear-Smart Corridors website reflects the views of the project partnership and does not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
The project in Greece is partially co-funded by the Green Fund.