The Need for the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System
One of the main reasons for the absence of a coordinated strategy on wilderness and large natural habitat areas in Europe is the lack of a common wilderness standard. There are many different words for ‘wilderness’ and ‘wild’ and it is impossible to adequately promote, protect, restore an area if its qualities remain unclear, or are understood differently according to geographic location, individual perception or local culture. It is important that any standard can thus be applied in operational circumstances. The European Wilderness Quality Standard provides Europeans with:
- Improved Compliance – The European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System is compliant with all recent and existing wilderness definitions currently applied in most European countries. This provides easy integration into national and regional policies.
- Safety and reliability – Adherence to the European Wilderness Quality Standards helps to ensure visitor satisfaction, reliability and environmental care. As a result, visitors perceive wilderness areas as more dependable – this in turn raises visitor confidence, increasing visits and financial support.
- Improving effectiveness: The European Wilderness Quality Standard provides wilderness area managers with reliable third-party recommendations based upon a detailed SWOT analysis on the basis of a standard set of european widely accepted criteria and indicators.
- Support from government policies and legislation – Standards are frequently referenced by regulators and legislators for protecting users and business interests and to support government policies. Standards play a central role in the European Union’s policy for a Single Market. Adherence to the European Wilderness Quality Standards will show the commitment to a common set of European values.
- Interoperabiltity – the ability of wilderness areas to work together relies heavily on a common set of wilderness standards.
- Encourage Research – European Wilderness Quality Standards provides a solid foundation upon which scientists base their research and to enhance monitoring.
- Marketing possibilities– As more and more Wilderness areas adhere to the European Wilderness Quality Standards more visitors and wilderness advocates will support and promote wilderness due to their increased awareness and confidence.
- European Wilderness Quality Standards reduce costs – Potential Wilderness Areas do not have to reinvent the wheel because all the basic criteria and indicators what defines a wilderness has already been thought through. This ensures that new wilderness areas will support the same principles with the existing wilderness network.
- Wilderness benefits from Standards – The European Wilderness Quality Standards set a minimum levels that help classify wilderness according to several criteria and a multitude of indicators. They provide benchmarks against which wilderness areas are audited. This gives the areas an incentive to improve their wilderness to gain an advantage. In turn this guarantees public access to more wilderness for future generations.
European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System process
The European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System process has different variants depending on size and objectives of the Wilderness or Wild Area: The European Wilderness Quality Standard Quick-Audit and the European Wilderness Quality Standard Full-Audit
European Wilderness Quality Standard Quick-Audit
This is for most larger areas 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 exceptional high quality of wilderness but limited budgets that are interesting in joining the European Wilderness Network and to prepare them for the full implementation of the European Wilderness Quality Standard.
During the Quick-Audit, the auditors will examine all relevant documents and over these topcis:
- Examination of the map of the proposed Wilderness,
- A short analysis of the zoning system (particularly conditions of the wilderness zone),
- 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
- The management plan for the potential Wilderness,
- Its biodiversity and tourism value,
- The potential for enlargement of the proposed Wilderness,
- A detailed itinerary of the Quick-Audit,
- A 3-5 day field audit of the proposed Wilderness,
- A 6-page summary of the European Wilderness Quality Standard Quick-Audit results based upon nine principles, 48 criteria and almost 50 indicators.
- A short list of the main recommendations based on the quick-audit and
- A preliminary Wilderness Quality categorization according to the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System for a maximum of 5 years.
The European Wilderness Quality Standard Quick-Audit provides an opportunity for the audited Wilderness area 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 Quality Standard Full-Audit
The European Wilderness Quality Standard Full-Audit is a systematic and very professional examination for larger Wilderness focusing on a high Quality of Wilderness and protected areas already dedicated to a wilderness management approach. A European Wilderness Quality Standard Full-Audit includes in additional to the above mentioned topics such issues as:
- An executive summary.
- Comprehensive maps and photos depicting the visual highlights of the audited Wilderness.
- A detailed scientific explanation of the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System in the context of current wilderness research,
- The history of Wilderness protection in Europe,
- A more detailed explanation of the verification team and their itinerary,
- A highly detailed biodiversity description of the habitat of the audited Wilderness.
- A detailed description of the legal structure, the management, the tourism and the educational programmes of the audited Wilderness.
- A 12-14 day field audit of the proposed Wilderness.
- A 150-page highly detailed analysis of the European Wilderness Quality Standard Quick-Audit results based upon nine principles, 54 criteria and almost 300 indicators.
- A detailed SWOT analysis with recommendations for action
- A Wilderness quality categorization according to the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System for a minimum of 10 years.
- Comprehensive communication support with Public Relations, promotional material like flags, folders, stickers, and listing in the European Wilderness Network
- Monitoring and Evaluation plan by the European Wilderness Society.
The certification of this full audit is valid for ten years with a free monitoring audit update after five years. The European Wilderness Quality Standard Audit involves a minimum of 14 days field work including overnight stays in the area, 6 months of research and desk work and recommendations based upon a highly detailed Wilderness Strength, Weakness, Threats and Opportunities analysis report.
All such audited areas become members in the European Wilderness Network.
Download the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System Version 1.7.1 below