FACE Members’ Meeting in Sofia: Supporting the Nature Restoration Law for the benefit of small game

Brussels, 28 April, 2023 – The 125th Anniversary of the Union of Hunters and Anglers in Bulgaria (UHAB) was celebrated this week in Sofia (Bulgaria), where the heads of Europe’s national hunting associations gathered for their annual Members’ Meeting. The agenda included a wide range of pressing issues for Europe’s hunters at the European level, including key files related to advancing FACE’s conservation goals.

Among these issues was the new Nature Restoration Law, which FACE has been supporting since its publication last June. A FACE policy briefing released this week (link) emphasises that the new law has the potential to benefit small game and biodiversity through habitat and ecosystem restoration, something FACE has been advocating for decades. FACE called on decision-makers to support this important opportunity.

Referring to the challenges for Europe’s wild game populations, FACE President Torbjörn Larsson stated: We need landscape-level approaches backed by the involvement of key stakeholders to develop workable conservation measures for small game. This requires the right incentives to promote community-based conservation at all levels. The new Nature Restoration Law is critically important and will help to deliver FACE’s Strategy for 2027.

The European Hunters’ Campaign (#signforhunting) was another important topic discussed during the meeting. FACE and its Members have successfully collected over 260,000 signatures to ensure a strong future for hunting and biodiversity in Europe. The campaign will land in Brussels on 6 June 2023, coinciding with Green Week and an important time for the political debate on nature restoration.

FACE also welcomed two new Members:

  • All-Ukrainian Association of Hunters and Users of Hunting Grounds (UAHHG) as a Full Member. This association has been tasked by the Ukrainian Association of Hunters and Fisherman (representing 180,000+ hunters) to represent the hunting community of Ukraine in FACE. UAHHG has 24 separate subdivisions in all regions of Ukraine as well as scientific and technical council for more than 30 experts from different higher educational institutions. Among the members are 300 legal entities (users and owners of hunting grounds).
  • Wild Sheep Foundation as an Associate Member. This organisation works globally to enhance wild sheep populations, promote scientific wildlife management, and educate the public and youth on sustainable use and the conservation benefits of hunting while promoting the interests of the hunter.

On Day 2 of the meeting, FACE organised a conference to discuss “Bringing back small wild game to Europe’s farmland” (link).  With national CAP strategic plans in place and a new restoration law under discussion, this conference presented a vital opportunity to discuss and exchange information on restoring small game in Europe. Relevant external speakers, including Ms. Gaëlle Marion from DG AGRI, European Commission, Dr. Francis Buner, Head of PARTRIDGE NSR Interreg project, and Volen Arkumarev, Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB). Speakers and participants, including a large delegation from Bulgaria (UHAB), exchanged views with experts from major national hunting associations. A number of specific actions were agreed to advance work at national level for small game in Europe.

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