Shape Wilderness’ future: Contribute to the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Institute’s new plans

The Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute is looking for input to help develop its next science strategic plan! Multiple partners interested in Wilderness are invited to contribute. Organisations and actors including management agencies and bureaus, tribes and other Indigenous communities, universities and other science partners, outdoor recreation organisations, NGOs, and others interested in wilderness, are all encouraged to give their input. These contributions aim to help underpin the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute’s research with a robust, and broadly defined understanding of Wilderness research needs globally and their relative priority.

The Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute

Since 1993, the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute have been working with Wilderness stakeholders globally to provide high quality, credible science that responds to the priority needs of Wilderness managers, planners, and Wilderness organisations—while also advancing scientific scholarship. The institute focuses on a wide array of Wilderness research. These topics include natural disturbances, social barriers to fire restoration, recreational opportunities and threats, land use trends and conflicts, monitoring, ecosystem services, social and cultural resources, and climate and land use change. In addition, they have worked with Wilderness stewards to implement numerous Wilderness stewardship tools and influenced Wilderness and nature legislation.

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Currently, the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute is creating a new strategic science plan for the next five to ten years. In this first step, their goal is to develop a “universe” of potential research needs relevant to Wilderness. This concerns research regarding science to support the stewardship of Wilderness and nearby social-ecological landscapes, instances where Wilderness provides a unique opportunity for scientific endeavour, and perspectives on effective knowledge exchange.

In preparation for external input, the institute has reviewed policy and management documents at the Institute, and peer-reviewed literature. This has resulted in the identification of nearly 200 potential research questions or needs.  However, there are still many more Wilderness topics out there. As a result, the institute is relying on outside input to help fill these, in order to make their upcoming research topics as responsive and relevant to current practice, needs and interests across the Wilderness community. After that, an opportunity to rank research topics in order of priority will be scheduled for May 2021.  

What are your priorities for European Wilderness?

Last year, the European Wilderness Society submitted a project proposal to fund networking activities for research in European Wilderness. The aim of this project is to bridge the knowledge gap on Wilderness. Moreover, it will aim to establish a common set of research techniques used that meet the Wilderness research ethics standards.

In the context of European Wilderness, the development of this new strategic science plan provides a great opportunity for practitioners and researchers in Europe. This subsequently facilitates input to one of the world’s foremost Wilderness research organisations. The European context creates unique challenges for Wilderness, as well as opportunities. In such a densely populated continent, the priorities of Wilderness in Europe will vary to those in other continents. Several Wilderness areas in other continents are further away from the sphere of human influence. This makes it even more important that European voices representing the specific situation in Europe are heard in this consultation. Moreover, for members of the European Wilderness Network, this offers a great opportunity to help strengthen Europe’s primary Wilderness Network. By doing so this will ensure that current research has a relevance to the needs of protected areas in Europe.

This plan will orient the institute’s work over the next five to ten years, moving towards the institute’s vision…A world where science, wilderness, and relationships between all people and wild lands thrive. This is a unique opportunity to provide input by adding your own topics and questions. Until April 19, 2021 you can provide input through the following link: https://leopold.scienceplanning.net/scienceneeds/

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