The European LoupO project has been launched. This comprehensive and standardised plan monitors and follows bear and wolf populations with the aim of protecting and improving biodiversity on the French, Spanish and Andorran parts of the Pyrenees. The project is coordinated by the UAB.
The Pyrenean bear (Ursus arctos) and wolf (Canis lupus) form part of the natural heritage of Spain, France and Andorra. Both species are spread throughout all three states: the bears with a reproductive population in the Central Pyrenees (Haute Garonne, Arièje, Val d’Aran and Pallars) and wolves through the presence of erratic males settled in the pre-Pyrenees and the Eastern Pyrenees. The main objective of the LoupO project consists in developing a trans-frontier plan for the mainly genetic monitoring and follow-up of bear and wolf populations in the Pyrenees.
The LoupO project, with a total budget of €1,250,109, is 65% co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the programme INTERREG V-A Spain-France-Andorra (POCTEFA 2014-2020), a European regional cooperation programme created to foster sustainable dvelopment in the regions occupied by the three countries. The project will be conducted during the next two years until Spring 2022, and is coordinated by Dr Natàlia Sastre, researcher at the Department of Animal Science and Food at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, specialist in wildlife at the UAB Veterinary Molecular Genetics. “The LoupO project aims to foster collaboration among the three countries in order to monitor these wild animals who do not understand anything about borders. This way we will all know more the population and genetic state of the animals”, Natàlia Sastre explains.
The Ministry for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food (GENCAT), the General Council of Aran, Forestal Catalana SA, the Laboratoire d’Ecologie Alpine (CNRS) and the Veterinary Molecular Genetics (UAB) as beneficiary partners, and the Ministry for Territory and Sustainability (GENCAT), the Office Français de la Biodiversité, the Direction Régionale de l’Environnement, de l’Aménagement et du Logement (Occitanie), and the Ministry for the Environment, Agriculture and Sustainability (Government of Andorra) as associated partners, will develop, standardise and unigy all methodologies to be used in the regional and genetic monitoring of Pyrenean bears and wolves. They will also be in charge of creating a common database for all three countries. This will allow researchers in the future to conduct population estimations using genetic census, for example, with the aim of making the most of resources and adapting to the growing populations of these two carnivores. At the same time, this will favour the creation of measures to foster accepance of these two animals in a regions marked by human activity.
The LoupO project forms part of the third call by the POCTEFA 2014-2020 Programming Committee, which constitutes the fifth generation of EU financial support for the strengthening of economic and social integration of the Spain-France-Andorra frontier zone. This financial aid is destined to the development of economic, social and environmental activities conducted in frontier regions through joint sustainable regional development strategies.