European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System process

A Wilderness Audit is a step-wise approach and is implemented in stages along the Wilderness Continuum, from Pre-Audit to Quick-Audit to Full-Audit, from smaller to larger, from management to stewardship. Depending on the potential Wilderness and its management, as well as the available resources and the objective of the Wilderness stewards, the implementation of this step-wise approach can vary.

Elements of the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System process:

  • Quality standard (10 principles, 57 criteria, 130 indicators)
  • Multi-day field audit
  • Several months research and analysis of findings
  • Detailed SWOT analysis
  • Wilderness Audit Reports (Wilderness Brief, Quick-Audit Report, Executive summary including list of recommendations, Full-Audit Report)

From Wilderness candidate to certified Wilderness

Step 1

At the beginning, it is important to formulate a clear Wilderness vision for the area. Based on this vision, several steps take place: an initial examination of the area, workshops with the management team, analysis of available and Wilderness relevant research, trainings with a focus on: Wilderness management plan to Wilderness stewardship plan transition, Wilderness inventory, defined boundary of Wilderness as a result of mapping, etc.

Step 2

After these steps, the area becomes designated as a European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System Candidate. During the following 2-3 years, various actions take place, such as the development of a Wilderness stewardship plan, a management plan for invasive species, a fire control management plan and a Wilderness restoration plan, in order to prepare the area for an audit.

Step 3

After 2-3 years, the area will be examined according to the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System (either Quick- or Full-Audit). Based on the results of this process, the area will be labeled in the relevant Wilderness category.

European Wilderness Quick-Audit

For most larger areas the European Wilderness Quality Standard Quick-Audit is typically the first step in the Wilderness audit process. In addition, the European Wilderness Quality Standard Quick-Audit is the perfect tool for most smaller, Wild Areas with an exceptionally high quality Wilderness and limited budget, who are interested in joining the European Wilderness Network. The Quick-Audit can prepare the area for the Full-Audit and the implementation of the European Wilderness Quality Standard.

The European Wilderness Quality Standard Quick-Audit also provides an opportunity for the audited Wilderness to correct weaknesses before undergoing a full certification in accordance with the European Wilderness Quality Standard Full-Audit. During the Quick-Audit, the auditors will examine all relevant documents and cover the following topics:

  • Examination of the maps of the proposed Wilderness,
  • Development of a short analysis of the zoning system (particularly conditions of the Wilderness zone),
  • Clarification of the compatibility and size differences between zoning of the audited protected area and the Wilderness zoning of the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System,
  • Examination of the Stewardship plan for the potential Wilderness,
  • Examination of the potential Wilderness biodiversity and tourism value,
  • Examination of the potential for enlargement of the proposed Wilderness,
  • Development of a detailed itinerary of the Quick-Audit,
  • Implementation of a 3-5 day field audit of the proposed Wilderness,
  • Writing a European Wilderness Quality Standard Quick-Audit report
  • Writing a short report of the main recommendations,
  • Setting up a preliminary Wilderness Quality categorisation according to the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System for a maximum of 5 years,
  • Listing the audited Wilderness in the European Wilderness Network.

The European Wilderness Quality Standard Quick-Audit provides an opportunity for the audited Wilderness to correct weaknesses before undergoing a full certification according to the European Wilderness Quality Standard Full-Audit. In addition, the European Wilderness Quality Standard Quick-Audit also helps to better understand the strong and weak points of an audited Wilderness before deciding for a comprehensive Wilderness management approach.

European Wilderness Full-Audit

The European Wilderness Quality Standard Full-Audit is a systematic and professional examination for larger Wilderness focusing on a high quality of Wilderness and protected areas that are already dedicated to a Wilderness stewardship (management) approach.

A European Wilderness Quality Standard Full-Audit includes, in addition to the above mentioned Quick-Audit topics:

  • Development of comprehensive maps and photos, depicting the visual highlights of the audited Wilderness,
  • Development of a detailed scientific explanation of the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System in the context of current Wilderness research,
  • Development of the history of Wilderness protection in Europe,
  • Development of the history of the audited Wilderness protection,
  • Detailed explanation of the verification team and their itinerary,
  • Development of a biodiversity description of the habitats of the audited Wilderness,
  • Examination of the legal structure, the stewardship plan, the tourism and the educational programmes of the audited Wilderness,
  • 6 months of research and desk work,
  • A 12-14 day field audit of the potential Wilderness, including overnight stays in the area,
  • Development of a 150-200 page Wilderness Audit Report, as a basis for a Wilderness Stewardship Plan, including a detailed SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) with site-specific recommendations for action,
  • A Wilderness Quality categorisation according to the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System valid for a period of 10 years,
  • Comprehensive communication and marketing support with public relations, promotional material like flags, posters, brochures, etc.,
  • Development of monitoring and evaluation plan,
  • Certification and labelling valid for 10 years with a free monitoring audit after 5 years.

The European Wilderness Network.

Read the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System Version 2.0 below

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