Germany can 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:

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

Schumacher et al., 2018

Please also read: Germany’s Wilderness criteria for Wild areas and Wilderness just officially released!

European Wilderness Quality standard provided 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, the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System provided a solid basis for the German-specific criteria. This was a major step to helping identify potential areas of Wilderness in Germany.

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

German Wilderness Partners

Currently there are four Wilderness areas in Germany that are part of the European Wilderness Network. These include:Jasmund WILDCoast, Hainich WILDForest, Königsbrücker Heide Wilderness, and as a special form of Wilderness the WILDIsland Vilm. The European Wilderness Society also visited other potential Wilderness like Amrum, Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft, Lieberose Heide, Harz, and many more. The diversity of the German Wilderness also shows the potential that Germany has for the European Wilderness Network. The potential covers areas such as mountains, coasts, wetlands, rivers, abandoned military and mining areas. The European Wilderness Society will visit Germany in the next years to continue with its ongoing Wilderness assessment.

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. The European Wilderness Society continues to work with current European Wilderness Network Partners, as well as to communicate with further potential Wilderness areas in Germany.

For further information about Germany’s ambitious goal, achievements and next steps for Wilderness, see the paper below.

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