Two percent of the total land surface, that is how much the German Federal Government set as a target for Wilderness by the end of 2020. Initiatives have been established, such as ‘Wildnis in Deutschland’ (Wilderness in Germany) to support efforts to achieve the targets. The government has even created a special Wilderness Fund to financially secure purchase of land that should become Wilderness. But the efforts were far from sufficient, as merely 0.6 percent land surface is designated as Wilderness by the German government at the moment.
Agenda for Wilderness
The initiative Wildnis in Deutschland is an alliance of 19 environmental organisations, including the Zoological Society of Frankfurt. The alliance came to the conclusion that the German state is failing to meet its own targets. Therefore, the alliance developed the ‘Agenda for Wilderness’, a document in which the organisations appeal to the government to increase their contribution to Wilderness in Germany. The Agenda sets out in concrete terms how important Wilderness is for natural biodiversity as well as for other socio-ecological goals. Wilderness helps to mitigate the impact of climate change, helps to reduce impact of natural disasters and much more. It also contributes to regional development, as it can even offer a touristic destination for nature lovers.
As the alliance states, it is important to direct efforts towards expanding existing Wilderness areas. There are possibilities to do so in regions where lands in rural areas become available. For example, they present networking these areas instead of privatising them as one solution. Furthermore, calls the alliance, it is needed to do financial investments in reconnecting these natural areas.
German definition of Wilderness
Germany used the European definition of Wilderness to establish its own national definition. Despite some subtle differences, the German Wilderness should be large, continuous areas where nature is developing without human intervention. People are welcome to visit and experience Wilderness, but should limit their impact. The European Wilderness Society welcomes the efforts made to protect and preserve such wild places in Germany. The designated German Wilderness areas indicate that there is potential for areas to meet also the European Wilderness Quality Standard. Let us hope that the alliance is able to inspire the Federal government of Germany to prioritise Wilderness more in the next decade!