Lesson on wilderness

Value of European wilderness

During the last decade the wilderness movement achieved significant successes and gained the public support of Europeans. Politicians under influence of industrial lobbyists are trying to ignore this shift in public opinion but are confronted more and more by a wilderness friendly electorate.

Part of the reason for this lobbyism is that Europe continues to experience economic growth and development and  there are fewer lands that have escaped commercial and residential development. This process includes development of infrastructure (particularly in Eastern part of Europe) but also second and vacation homes which are spreading further into formerly undeveloped rural areas and regions.

Kalkalpen Wilderness

Kalkalpen Wilderness, Austria

Another part of the reason is that the vast majority of Europeans live and choose to live in urban and suburban areas with little direct contact with wild lands, especially lands that might be considered wilderness. Hence, we cannot take for granted that the average European citizen understands and appreciates the multiple values of Wilderness that fuelled interest of handful committed people one decade ago…

Like in many other aspects of our life the hope is still the younger generation. In particular it may need to be reminded, or perhaps even convinced, that there is a time to fill the gap made by their parents or grandparents. The wilderness values that seems to be completely ignored by the general public in past may have the higher priority today. Also, the realm of relevant wilderness values have likely growing importance than in the past decades.

Hohe Tauren Wilderness

Hohe Tauren Wilderness, Austria

Existing experience with wilderness conservation in Europe provides useful framework and motivation to continue in the work done in the previous decade. What is desperately needed in this time is a clear, comprehensive articulation of the multiple benefit of Wilderness. This articulation needs to be factual, wide-ranging, and science-based.

Thus, the overall purpose of the several following posts is to tell fully what we know about the range of values Europeans have to hold towards the European Wilderness Preservation System. In the coming weeks we attempt to clarify the meaning of different types of Wilderness values and to present replicable, science-based evidence of these values.

European Wilderness means also carnivors

European Wilderness means also carnivors

Our intended audience is all those new faces who can and do have power over the future of European Wilderness Preservation System as well as all who seeks to influence those who have this power. This information is also intended for teachers, students, and other inquisitive people involved in formal or informal learning or research programs. There is a hope to better inform interested and engaged members of the general public about the value of their Wilderness. After all, it is the European citizen who is ultimately responsible and can influence public policy in the greatest measure through their individual and collective voices and actions.

In the following posts we try to answer the fundamental questions: “To what degrees and in what ways does the European Wilderness Preservation System can add value in 21st century Europe”.

More can be read: The Multiple Values of Wilderness, 2005

The next post: Framework for wilderness values in Europe

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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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