Quality Standard for Marine Wilderness

The European Wilderness Society is actively working on a quality standard for marine Wilderness, alongside terrestrial Wilderness. Practical experience with the  audit process of terrestrial Wilderness forms the basis for a quality standard to reflect the uniqueness of marine habitats in a term of management and Wilderness conservation. This subject raises many new issues and questions particularly to the subject of management measures and objectives. This is the reason why we are searching for potential marine Wilderness areas alongside the atlantic and baltic sea as testing areas.

A few days ago two senior European Wilderness Society experts visited briefly the  Nationalpark Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft, located in the northern part of Germany, on the Baltic Sea. According to the small brochure “Hirsch und Meer”, with the subtitle “Wildnis in der Landschaft entdecken” this park protects marine and brackish environment, wild coastline and coastal forest.

The good sign is that the coast is clean!

The reason to stop here for a short visit on the way to Vilm Island for a meeting dealing with Old-Growth Beech forest in Europe, was to get a little bit of taste about this areas recommended as a potential place to identify marine Wilderness. The recommendation was done based on the knowledge that the Nationalpark Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft is one of the few marine areas seriously protecting Wilderness.

The short visit raised many questions on how to deal with among many other issues with:

  • protective dyke building,
  • traditional fishing rights,
  • wandering along the coastline,
  • tourism management,
  • lighthouses and other protective instalments for the waterways and
  • anchoring of small leisure crafts just off the coast.

These issues are similar to the land based Wilderness like hunting, logging, berry pickings, safety roads, hiking trails. It is therefore obvious that even though we may think marine Wilderness differes from land based Wilderness, the challenges in designating an area is in fact identical.  For example the map available in visitor centre indicates border of the National Park and marine transport corridors where the motor boats are restricted or even excluded.

An example on how the management of  the Nationalpark Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft contributes to the German Government 2% Wilderness commitment.

During the next few weeks, we will be starting several initiatives to push forward with a first draft of the European Marine Wilderness Standard and Audit System to expand the European Wilderness Network to include such great areas like the Nationalpark Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft or Nationalpark Jasmund.

Vlado Vancura

Vlado Vancura is the Deputy Chairman and Director of wilderness of the European Wilderness Society and is based in Liptovsky Hradok, Slovakia.

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