ENETWILD, a network providing reliable data on distribution and abundance of wildlife

EFSA – European Food Safety Authority – is a European agency funded by the European Union that provides independent scientific assessment and communicates on risks associated with the food chain to support decisions of the European legislative and executive institutions (Commission, Council, Parliament) and EU Member States. Food safety issues do not respect national borders. That’s why cooperation is central to EFSA scientific work. EFSA was set up in 2002 following a series of food crises in the late 1990s to be a source of scientific advice and communication on risks associated with the food chain. Most of EFSA’s works is undertaken in response to requests for scientific advice from the European Commission, the European Parliament and EU Member States.

On several occasions EFSA has been requested to assess risks related to animal diseases for which wildlife are hosts, e.g. African swine fever, avian influenza, bovine tuberculosis, Echinococcus multilocularis. Repeatedly, a lack of data on the geographical distribution and abundance of the wildlife hosts as well as the prevalence of the disease in these hosts has hampered the assessments. Since knowledge gaps exist with view to size, distribution and structure of the various wildlife populations, EFSA identified the need of carrying out surveys providing valid information on size, distribution and structure of the various wildlife populations, following harmonised methods.

Many European countries and organizations collect spatial data on distribution and abundance of wildlife, but each one has its own specific characteristics with respect to the methodology used, the type of data acquired, the repository implemented and their accessibility.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) funds ENETWILD project to collect comparable data at European level to analyse risks of diseases shared between wildlife, livestock, and humans; data that are also essential in conservation and wildlife management.

This project attempts to improve the European capacities for monitoring of wildlife population, developing standards for data collection, validation and, finally, create and promote a data repository.

The harmonisation of European data framework for wildlife (distribution and abundance) is a key milestone since it opens the space to aggregate these data from the whole Europe.

Photo by: Ramon Soriguer

Initially (see figure), the project developed standards for presence/abundance data of the required species under the criteria of being effective for filtering data by quality as needed to produce high-quality maps and models, and compatible with existing biodiversity data collection systems in order to guarantee inter-operability between them (https://efsa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.2903/sp.efsa.2020.EN-18419).

ENETWILD  approach to harmonize data collection on wildlife species at the European level

On a large spatial scale collected data are available, and comparable across Europe for use in the predictive spatial modelling of wildlife.

Finally, the organisation and collection of wildlife population data and their analysis is essential for research, risk assessment and developing wildlife policies (conservation, conflict management)

Photo by: Tomasz Porgorski

Photo by: Luca Giordano

As illustrative (see figure), the sources of hunting statistics are lacking are not harmonised across Europe, as well as incomplete, dispersed, and difficult to compare. A feasible effort is needed to achieve harmonisation of data in a short time for the most basic statistics at the hunting ground level, and the coordination of the collection of hunting statistics must be achieved first at national and then at European level.

Top: Spatial distribution and resolution of hunting bags data collected for wild boar by ENETWILD (Sep 2021). Bottom: output of wild boar spatial model for abundance (hunting yield by km2, https://enetwild.com/reports-docs/).

Funded by EFSA: