55 years ago the United States was the first country to officially designate land as “Wilderness” through the Wilderness Act of 1964. This was to protect the most pristine and wildest of America’s land for future generations. For many years in Europe, Wilderness was associated with far-flung, exotic locations like the Amazon or Yosemite. It took many years for Europeans to realise that there was Wilderness in Europe, and it needed our protection. In 2009, the European Wilderness Resolution was passed. Europe now had a Wilderness definition, and a plan to protect Wilderness.
Fast forward five years, and people from all across the globe gathered at the 10th World Wilderness Congress to build on the Wilderness Resolution of Europe. There were many wild conversations, and this sparked the founding of the European Wilderness Society. For the last five years, the European Wilderness Society has been working for a wilder Europe together with more than 40 members of the European Wilderness Network.
1st National Park
Yellowstone became the first national park in the world.
by John Muir, who argued that the conservation policies were not strong enough to protect the interest of the natural world because they continued to focus on the natural world as a source of economic production.
US Forest Service
President Theodore Roosevelt created the United States Forest Service (USFS) and established 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, 4 national game preserves, 5 national parks, and 18 national monuments by enabling the 1906 American Antiquities Act.
Swiss National Park
It was one of the first National Park in Europe. It has an area of 174.2 km² and is the largest protected area of the country.
Aldo Leopold in Berlin, 1935, where he visited the renowned School of Forestry in Tharandt near Dresden.
Leopold visited in Germany the School of Forestry in Tharandt, Dresden. Leopold´s most insistent impression from traveling in Germany was the lack of wilderness in the landscape. Aldo Leopold influenced the development of modern environmental ethics and helped to organize the US Wilderness Society.
IUCN has become the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it.
Founded in Morges, Switzerland, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) grew to be one of the largest conservation organisations in the world.
US Wilderness Act
The Wilderness Act of 1964 created the legal definition of wilderness in the United States, and protected 9.1 million acres (37,000 km²) of federal land.
France, West Germany, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands established the European Economic Community, regional organisation aimed to bring about economic integration among its member states.
The Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora is the cornerstone of Europe’s nature conservation policy with the Birds Directive and established the EU wide Natura 2000 ecological network of protected areas.
The EU was formally established by the Maastricht Treaty —whose main architects were Helmut Kohl and François Mitterrand.
WWF Netherlands starts PAN Parks to certify Protected Areas with a special focus on Sustainable Tourism.
1st European Wilderness
Oulanka National Park in Finland, was the first European audited and designated Wilderness according to the draft working definition of Wilderness in Europe.
EU Wilderness Resolution
European Parliament passes the Wilderness Resolution to define wilderness to address aspects such as ecosystem services, conservation value, climate change and sustainable use. It also mandated the European Commission to map Europe’s last wilderness areas and to undertake a study on the value and benefits of wilderness protection.
The EC Presidency Conference on Wilderness and Large Natural Habitat Areas, developed a series of policy recommendations for protection and restoration of Europe’s wilderness and wild areas.
European Wilderness Definition
The Wilderness Working Group (WWG) of the Wild Europe Initiative comprised of participants wild area practitioners from 15 EU and Non-EU countries agreed during the WILD 10 conference in Salamanca, Spain on a European Wilderness Definition.
European Wilderness Society
Founded in Austria, its main objectives to identify, designate, steward and promote Europe´s last wilderness. The European Wilderness Network is created.
European Wilderness Network
13 Wilderness areas are members of this EU Network.
The European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System is launched.
40+ European Wilderness areas
More than 40 Wilderness areas have joined the expanding network with more than 300.000 ha.