International cooperation is a key feature within the European Wilderness Society. Not only within Europe, but also worldwide. Building on last year’s visit of US Wilderness Veteran Garry Oye and Van Keele in Tamsweg. Our colleague Verena Gruber paid a return visit to the United States for two months to focus on transcontinental cooperations in Wilderness Stewardship. Building a Network, exchanging knowledge and developing joint projects formed her main tasks during this trip.
International Exchange Programmes
The two main projects were a the new International Wilderness Student Exchange Programme and a Wilderness Fellow Exchange Programme.
Wilderness Student Exchange Programme
For the Wilderness Student Exchange Programme up to five students from Europe and from the international forest management of the Hochschule für nachhaltige Entwicklung Eberswalde (University of Sustainable Development), Germany, and five students from a similar bachelor program from the University of Montana and other interested US University will work together for about 12 weeks in Europe and in the US. After an introduction to the specific legal frameworks for Wilderness, the students will work on various small projects in several Wilderness areas of the European Wilderness Network and in the United States in areas of the National Wilderness Preservation System. These projects will be presented at the end of the program.
International Wilderness Fellow Exchange Programme
The Wilderness Fellow Exchange Programme is tailored for managers of Wilderness areas and Wilderness experts. They will spend several weeks in a Wilderness area of the other country. The goal is to get insights to the Wilderness uniqueness, stewardship tasks and conflicts. We believe that hands-on Wilderness knowledge exchange will be fruitful and benefiting for all attending fellows.
During her trip, Verena also worked on the organisation of international Wilderness workshops as well as the possible implementation of the European version of the Leave No Trace guidelines.
US Trip Schedule
For the realization of these projects she met numerous organisations and travel to several Wilderness Areas and National Parks in Washington D.C., Colorado, Idaho, Montana and California, such as the:
- WILD Foundation,
- The Society for Wilderness Stewardship,
- The Aldo Leopold Research Institute,
- The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics,
- The National Park Service,
- The Wilderness Institute of the University of Montana,
- The Friends of Bitterroot,
- The Harper Ferry Institute and many more.
Verena also visited several Wilderness areas and National Parks along the route.