The Large Carnivore Initiative was developed by WWF together with partner organizations and experts in 17 European countries and adopted at a meeting in Abruzzo National Park, Italy, in June 1995. The objective of the initiative is to maintain and restore viable populations of the five remaining European large carnivore species, namely the brown beer Ursus arctos, the Iberian lynx Lynx pardinus, the Eurasian lynx Lynx lynx, the wolf Canis lupus and the wolverine Gulo gulo. Due to the combination of the importance of large carnivores in maintaining natural ecological systems and their substantial habitat requirements, the conservation of these species is seen as essential for the work of maintaining and restoring biodiversity. The initiative aims to support and build on various existing initiatives and projects across Europe, disseminate valuable experience and knowledge from different countries and develop new tools to promote the coexistence of human societies with the five large carnivores. The proposed actions focus on four needs: (1) the conservation of large carnivore populations and their habitats; (2) the integration of large carnivore conservation into rural development; (3) support for large carnivore conservation through appropriate legislation, policies and economic instruments; and (4) improved information and public awareness. A Large Carnivore Coordination Group has been established by WWF that includes representatives from governments, international and national non-governmental organizations, scientists and other experts. The tasks of this group include ensuring an effective exchange of information within Europe and developing specific conservation actions. The initiative explicitly recognizes the need to develop a European-wide network of core areas, corridors and buffer zones for large carnivores. In many cases, large carnivores could act as umbrella species whereby their conservation would also serve to conserve many other species dependent on the same habitats.