The European Wilderness Society performs Audits to assess the quality of potential Wilderness areas in Europe. We use the European Wilderness Quality Standard to guarantee that the Wilderness Quality is comparable across different habitat-types and countries within Europe. Depending on the quality, Wilderness areas are rewarded with a bronze, silver, gold or platinum Wilderness Quality certificate.

So, what do we do during the Audits? A part of the European Wilderness Audit is office work. This includes examination of maps of the proposed Wilderness. We analyse the current zoning system, which is crucial for a Wilderness area. Also, we might have discussions on the potential for enlargement of the Wilderness area. Beside the office work, there is a large and adventurous part: the Field Audit. This means 12 to 14 days out in the field to verify and confirm the Wilderness Quality according to 9 principles, 54 criteria and more than 300 indicators.

Auditing a Wilderness is challenging

Sometimes, our auditors are facing challenging situations during the Field Audits. The following pictures provide a short glimpse to the auditors work in the past years:

Uholka-Shyrokyy Luh Wilderness: A large area of Shyrokyy Luh is missing trails. Nevertheless, we had five river-crossings without any bridges ahead of us. Our guide provided personal assistance. Instead of taking our shoes off, cross the river and put shoes on again, he simply took us on his back and we crossed the river in a few minutes…

Hohe Tauren Wilderness: Behind the Krimmler Pass was a large Obersulzbachkees Glacier. Crampons, walking sticks and a rope were necessary equipment to cross this risky part and continue on a narrow trail…

Zacharovanyy kray Wilderness: Transport in this park is not easy. To save time, the group of rangers and auditors jumped on a cart that was pulled by an old UAZ. A real challenge to try and keep balance on a bumpy road…

Slovensky raj Wilderness: Narrow limestone gorges cut by creeks request special equipment and skills to climb in the
wet and tight canyons…

Jamund WILDCoast: A rugged WILDCoast is challenging us not only to walk for hours in soft gravel and sand, but also climb fallen trees…

Borjomi Kharagauli Wilderness: The Audit of Borjomi Kharagauli Wilderness demanded us to jump on the saddle and spend several days in very remote land…

Synevyr Wilderness: In the valleys without trails, the rivers filled with broken trees become our paths…

Soomaa Wilderness: Continuous rainfall means that rivers break their banks, flood the roads and access to our workplace is only on foot…

Retezat Wilderness: Fog is risky in the mountains, particularly when auditors are working on their own…

Zacharovanyy kray Wilderness: To spend nights in field is part of the duties. It is also a way to assess the light pollution in the Wilderness areas.

 

Here some more impressions from the wild nature of our trips..

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About Author

Vlado Vancura is the Deputy Chairman and Director of wilderness of the European Wilderness Society and is based in Liptovsky Hradok, Slovakia.

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