At the meeting “wilderness in dialog” hosted by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), the European Wilderness Society presented its European wilderness analysis system based on national indicators to implement the wilderness objectives to set a standard for minimum requirements for wilderness in Europe. This is the European Wilderness Quality and Audit System.

More than 30 Wilderness Experts, among others from the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, the provinces, scientists and major NGOs discussed for three days the possibilities of where and how potential wilderness areas can be identified and certified within the framework of the National Biodiversity Strategy (NBS) formulated by the Federal Government goal of 2% of Germany to be designated as wilderness areas until 2020. Therefore, a definition of wilderness areas within the meaning of NBS should be based on common European Wilderness criteria.

The European Wilderness Society has developed 9 principles with 54 criteria and more than 300 indicators setting minimum requirements for wilderness in Europe embedded in an European context. The proven European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System is based on the widely agreed definition of wilderness and wilderness areas of the Wild Europe Initiative, with which it closely cooperates.

Vlado Vancura, member of the Wild Europe Initiative which developed the European Wilderness definition from 2009 until 2012:

The European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System is an international standard system with principles and criteria with national indicators for the implementation of the wilderness destinations in Europe based upon the input and work of more than 230 wilderness experts from all over Europe.

The workshop revealed the need to test the compatibility of the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System concerning the specific German wilderness areas are facing including moors, peatbogs and wetlands, rewilded ex-mining areas, rewilded ex-military training areas or the large percentage of Natura 2000 areas within prospective wilderness areas.

A fieldtest was carried out iust four weeks after the workshop in Vilm in the protected area Naturschutzgebiet Königsbrücker Heide, Germany. Three wilderness experts from the European Wilderness Society assessed the area and checked the applicability of the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System set of indicators in German protected areas.

After a through mission the assessment team concluded not only that the NSG Königsbrücker Heide is an excellent example of an open ended natural process oriented wilderness area and but confirmed that the indicators only needed minor adjustments to be applied in Germany. A German version of the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System with national indicators will therefore be available shortly. The Königsbrücker Heide will also become a member of the European Wilderness Network and a European Wilderness Quality Standard Quick-Audit to prepare for a Full-Audit at a later date will be prepared.

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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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