On April 27-29, 2015 the Global Challenges University Alliance (GCUA) organized the workshop “Why Wildlife? – Global opportunities and challenges”.

This workshop offered an opportunity for scientists working with the ecological, social and health aspects of the wildlife-human interface to share their experiences and thoughts on the global societal challenges ahead and to identify the most crucial research questions for future wildlife research. The mass loss of terrestrial animal species, especially large mammals and birds (e.g. anthropocene defaunation), has been put forward as an underestimated driver of global change. The repercussions of this sixth mass wildlife extinction for ecosystem functioning and human wellbeing may be enormous.

At the same time, many parts of the northern hemisphere are experiencing a refaunation or strong wildlife comeback (e.g. ungulates and carnivores such as wolf and lynx across Europe). Both declining as well as increasing wildlife populations create huge global challenges but also opportunities. Challenges arise when increasing numbers of wildlife enter the human-environment interface, creating conflicts with, for example, agriculture and forestry, and increasing zoonotic disease risk and disease transmission between wild and domestic animals. On the contrary, wildlife may provide opportunities such as meat from hunting, recreation and income generating opportunities through ecotourism, and positive impacts on biodiversity and disease dynamics. Wildlife research has to find ways to mitigate the conflicts and promote the opportunities. Traditionally, major advancements have been made in the fields of wildlife biology, ecology and health. Wildlife research has increasingly acknowledged the importance of economic and social dimensions in determining the trajectory of human-wildlife interaction.

Univ.Prof. Dr. Klaus Hackländer, Head of the Institute of Wildlife Biology and Game Mangement, represented BOKU and presented a talk on “Conservation through sustainable use of wildlife: Lessions learned from Austria”. More information at

GCUA: www.slu.se/gcua