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The European Wilderness Quality Standard Audit System is a standardised system for evaluating the Quality of Wilderness, the management of the respective area, the tourism impact, the challenges and opportunities and the potential for enlargement of wilderness in Europe.

The European Wilderness Society developed the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System based upon the extensive work of the last 20 years involving more than 230 wilderness specialists from NGOs, Government agencies and stakeholder. Key is the European Wilderness definition defined during that process.

The European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System serves as a basis for effective Wilderness protection, designation, restoration, and promotion initiatives across a range of geographic and cultural circumstances and different habitats  in all European Countries. It provides an easily understood, unambiguous and attractive wilderness standard that can mobilize the necessary interest and support among practitioners and across key sectors of society.

The European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System process has different stages.

1.Step: European Wilderness Quality Standard Quick-Audit – this is the first step in the Wilderness audit. During the pre-audit, the auditors will examine all relevant documents such as map of the audited area, zoning system (particularly conditions of the wilderness zone), compatibility between zoning of the audited protected area and the zoning of the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System, the size of the different zones and the management measures in the potential Wilderness, its biodiversity and tourism value, the potential for unlargement of the proposed Wilderness, detailed itinerary of the Quick-Audit, short description and summary of the outcomes for all nine principles of the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System and Conclusions. These last chapter describes also to Wilderness category and a quality label the quick-audited area will carry for a maximum of  5 years, where the European Wilderness Quality Standard Audit is valid for 10 years.

European Wilderness Quality Standard Quick-Audit provides an opportunity for the audited area to correct weaknesses before they are identified by the auditors during the full European Wilderness Quality Standard Audit. This process prevents difficulties in the future and make the audit process more smooth. In addition, the Quick-Audit also helps to better understand the strong and weak points of audited area.

2. Sep: European Wilderness Quality Standard Full-Audit – is a systematic and very professional examination of the full spectrum of the Quality of the Wilderness and includes chapters on the executive summary, explanation of the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System, history of Wilderness in Europe, the verification team and their itinerary, description of the audited protected area, detailed European Wilderness Quality Standard Audit  (including all nine principles, 48 criteria and almost 300 indicators), a detailed SWOT analysis, summary of the Finding and Recommendations, Wilderness Awarding, Monitoring and Evaluation (with monitoring plan for next 10 years), and References. The certification of this full audit is valid for ten years with a free of charge control audit after five years. The European Wilderness Quality Standard Audit involves a minimum of 14 days field work including overbite stays in the area, 6 months of research and desk work and results in highly detailed Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and threats analysis report.

Quick-Audit:

  • Synevyr National Nature Park, Ukraine
  • Gorgany National Park, Ukraine
  • Uholka, Ukraine
  • Königsbrücker Heide, Germany

Full Audit:

  • Kalkalpen Wilderness, Austria
  • Hohe Tauern, Austria
  • Zacharovanyy Kray Wilderness, Ukraine
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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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