Everywhere on our planet, forests are facing the same problem: humans. We like to use wood and other plant material for many things in our daily lives. This is putting a huge pressure on the trees. Logging of trees occurs is different ways, from destructive clear cuts, to more ‘environmentally friendly’ sanitary logging.

There are many areas that have the potential to become a true Wilderness. Yet, the logging of trees is often one of the main challenges for national parks and protected areas to resolve. The European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit system has clear criteria and specific indicators that allow only a non-intervention and non-extraction management in the Wilderness Core zones. To see whether these potential wilderness areas follow the EWQA principles, the European Wilderness Society performs multi-day Audits in the field.

Benefits of being in the field

Doing the Audits means hiking, crawling, and climbing through the potential wilderness. That is still the best way to find the true potential of the area. But modern technology is also helping us a hand. The University of Maryland created a tool back in 2013: an interactive map on Global Forest Change across the world. It has recently been updated with the satellite data up to 2016. The map includes detailed data on loss and gain of forests. Although it does not indicate the cause of forest loss, it indicates the important areas that need further investigation. This kind of tool assists the European Wilderness Society to direct the local management and our team to the problem areas. It supports the process to jointly develop plans and address the issue in case of logging activities.

Logging in disguise

In July this year, Vlado Vancura joined an international team of experts to monitor and evaluate on sanitary logging in the Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains. In close collaboration with WWF, the experts visited and investigated seven different sites. The conclusion of the report showed that there were often regular logging activities. The local foresters disguised those activities just as sanitary logging.

Forest loss across the Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains, where the investigation took place.

Not only Ukrainian national parks are dealing with logging activities. Throughout Europe, deforestation is one of the major threats to wilderness and wildlife. Find out more about the deforestation in Romania, and one of the consequences for wildlife.

All images originate from the Global Forest Change website.

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