In the last decade the wilderness become an integral part of the German National Strategy on Biological Diversity. This strategy envisages that wilderness cover 2 % of the German land area by 2020 and forests with natural forest development account for 5 % of the wooded area.
To meet this Wilderness target, the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) launched in 2012 a research and development project. The project formulated criteria for Wilderness in Germany within the meaning of the German National Strategy on Biological Diversity. Applying those criteria, potential Wilderness and Wild Areas (woodland, coastal plains, moorlands, alpine areas) and potential Wilderness (former military exercises zones, former open cast mining landscapes) were identified by Prof. Rosenthal of the University of Kassel.
This process is supported by sophisticated marketing and communication. This, for example included also an online campaign to protect more wilderness in Germany including a number of articles – Wildness in Germany, approaching the general public and explaining the importance of this decision and showcasing wonderful shots of some of Germany’s most natural areas – from the Alps to the Wadden Sea.
The main objective of this approach is to disseminate Germany´s Wilderness strategy to the society as much as possible. For example, the films were targeted at nature conservation events and festivals. The experience from this approach provides an excellent motivation and encouragement to the other European countries. The practical outcome is that a large majority of Germans are in favour of protecting Wilderness.
As we can see Germany is taking a pretty serious approach to the protection of wilderness. We congratulate Germany on this decision. Nevertheless, it is obvious that not all of the proposal areas will immediately fulfil all of the criteria of the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System. Nevertheless, several areas representing some of the best Wilderness in Germany can join the European Wilderness Preservation System almost right away. We are glad that Germany is going to play a significant role in the European Wilderness Movement and help us increase the total area of certified Wilderness from currently 313.993 ha to 500.000 ha in Europe by 2020.
Summarised this process Max A E Rossberg, Chairman of the European Wilderness Society.