Germany could reach 2% Wilderness

The German government and several environmental organisations are working on an ambitious goal for 2020. They aim to have Wilderness areas cover 2% of their land, and permanently unused forests cover 5% of Germany. This has been a work in progress since 2007, when the government adopted Wilderness into its National Biodiversity Strategy. The European Wilderness Society supports this goal and continues to actively contribute to the identification, designation and stewardship of more Wilderness in Germany. The first 10 years have passed since the beginning of the German Wilderness process. A new study has analysed the current progress of this goal:

European Wilderness Quality standard could provide a solid basis

The German government implemented four main steps to work towards the 2% Wilderness and 5% unused forest goals. These steps emphasise especially on legal, scientific, administrative and communication work. The European Wilderness Society strongly contributed under the guidance of the Bundesamt für Naturschutz Germany together with Europarc Germany, WWF Austria, WWF Germany, NABU, ZGF, and many others in the development of the German Wilderness definition and criteria. During the ‘Wildnis im Dialog’ workshops in 2014 and 2015, we presented the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System as a starting point and solid basis for the German-specific criteria.

The website Wildnis in Deutschland further supports the communication work and is full of information, media and publications for the public about the importance of Wilderness. As part of their communication campaign, Germany published 11 positions to explain reasons why Wilderness in Germany and Europe is so important.

  • There is potential for more Wilderness
  • We can learn from Wilderness
  • Wilderness supports biodiversity
  • Wilderness connects nature
  • Wilderness aligns with Natura 2000
  • Wilderness offers a place for large carnivores
  • Wilderness offers  a place for herbivores
  • Wilderness develops as self-willed land
  • Zones can help to protect Wilderness
  • In Wilderness nature can regulate itself
  • In Wilderness nature adapts to new situations

2% Wilderness: ambitious and achievable

Currently, Wilderness areas cover 0,6% and unused forests 1,9% of Germany. There is still a significant way to go to achieve the goal for 2020, but the recent study shows that Germany has the spatial capacity to fulfil the goal. Specifically, scientists identified 3,5% of German land which has the potential to become Wilderness. This includes areas that have a high proportion of pristine environment, but also former military and mining areas that are potential Wilderness. 

Our analysis reveals that the goals for more Wilderness areas in Germany are ambitious, but achievable.

Heiko Schumacher

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