The objective of the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System is a standardized and applicable wilderness standard that serves as a basis for effective wilderness protection, designation, restoration, and promotion initiatives across a range of geographic and cultural circumstances in all European Countries. It provides an easily understood, unambiguous and attractive wilderness standard that can mobilize the necessary interest and support among practitioners and across key sectors of society.
Wilderness is for the purpose of the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System defined as:
Natural processes govern wilderness areas meeting the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System “Gold- or Platinum Standard”. They are composed of native habitats and species, and large enough for the effective ecological functioning of natural processes. They are unmodified or only slightly modified and without intrusive or extractive human activity, settlements, infrastructure or visual disturbance.
Wilderness areas meeting the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System “Bronze- or Silver Standards” have a high level of predominance of natural process and natural habitat. They tend to be individually smaller and more fragmented than the “Gold- or Platinum Standard” wilderness areas, although they often cover extensive tracts. The condition of their natural habitat, processes and relevant species is however often partially or substantially modified by human activities such as livestock herding, hunting, fishing, and collecting berries and mushrooms.
The European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System
The European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System fulfills several requirements:
- Compliance with the Wild Europe Initiative “Discussion Draft: Definitions and Criteria for Wilderness and Wild Areas”
- Compliance with the IUCN criteria for wilderness areas
- Compliance with the PAN Parks criteria for wilderness areas
- Compliance with the definition of the Bundesamt für Naturschutz 2013, Germany
- Compliance with the wilderness continuum model of Robert Leslie
- Standardized Criteria for a Pan European Certification Process
- Compliance with the Verified Conservation Area (VCA) Council