Wilderness Policy

Stewardship or management of Wilderness

Stewardship of Wilderness

Stewardship of Wilderness is the careful and responsible leadership that maintains and uses the wilderness in a wise way.

The word ‘stewardship’ is coming from a religious belief that claims that humans are responsible for the world, humanity, and resources that have been entrusted to him. In the past, the believers (of stewardship) were usually people who believed in one God. The God who created the universe and which products of creation they must take care of. This creation includes animals and the environment. Many religions have a similar approach of promoting environmental care.

Management of Wilderness

Management of Wilderness is solely the act or the skill of controlling and making decisions regarding wilderness.

The word management only arrived in the late 16th century, from the Italian verb maneggiare, which, among other things meant ‘to direct or exercise a horse’. Today’s understanding is that management is the process of planning and organizing the resources and activities. The main objective is to achieve specific goals in the most effective and efficient manner possible.

Steward of Wilderness

Being a steward of wilderness means being a person that takes responsible care of the wilderness with a long-term visionary perspective. He has a great responsibility and it’s his priority to ensure that the wilderness survives in the long term future.

This means, for example, that he is not only responsible for the day-to-day care of the wilderness. When solving any problem, he must always ask himself at the beginning of the decision-making process whether it is necessary to implement the proposed type of care. He must check if short-term challenges are not going to threaten the long-term wilderness goals.

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Short-term solutions should not be a threat for long-term wilderness objectives.

For example, a proposal to remove non-native invasive species or to implement measures to control the population of tree-killing insects. This is often a very complex situation due to very specific interests of all relevant stakeholders. The pressure of these stakeholders is often unbearable. 

The effective method the stewards often use is a very carefully elaborated zonation of the wilderness. That offers an alternative solution to the implementation of such measures in the buffer zone that surrounds the wilderness itself and therefore make it possible to maintain the non-intervention principle in the Wilderness core.

Manager of wilderness 

Being a manager of wilderness means being a person that takes responsible care of the wilderness on a day-to-day basis. In this approach, the visionary perspective and long-term objective of wilderness conservation is often missing. 

This managerial model is often very influenced by the current complex situation in the given location. Some critical aspects in this situation are the land ownership, the tradition of active management in the past, the opinion of wilderness users (local or coming from cities), and last but not least, overall social awareness of the mission and importance of wilderness.

The result is therefore very often that in the case of the removal of non-native invasive species, managers use excuses to intervene in wilderness areas. For example, removing spontaneously regenerating non-native species. 

In the case of implementing measures to control the insect population, it is even more complex. Insect population wich increases in wilderness can spread beyond the wilderness boundary. This obviously has a negative impact on the surrounding forests that are planted and used for the production of timber.

As a result, managers of wilderness often look for reasons, arguments and excuses for their active management measures. They have to do that in order to satisfy the social pressure that is on their shoulders.

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Wilderness stewardship plan is a holistic document

Wilderness Stewardship plan

This plan is a document which provides direction and guidelines for the Wilderness stewards. It helps them make decisions regarding the future use and long-term protection of the Wilderness.

Wilderness stewardship planning is a holistic document. It analyses in detail and describes the long-term conceptual approach on how to deal with the particular Wilderness. 

Plan guides the Wilderness stewards regarding how to first determine whether there is the need for any management action before implementing an action plan. It contains the essence of Wilderness stewardship, which is non-intervention management. For Wilderness stewards and protected area managers this means deciding to keep their hands off in order to enable nature and its dynamic processes to happen and evolve freely and undisturbed.

Wilderness management plan

A Wilderness management plan is a document which provides the objectives of daily wilderness management. It clearly defines roles and responsibilities of management body and it makes sure the objectives regarding wilderness will be achieved.

A management plan is a comprehensive document that provides guidance to wilderness managers. A management plan generally outlines the aims and objectives of a Wilderness and the strategies used to meet the objectives. 

A correct implementation of the management plan ensures that the organization is running wilderness as effectively as possible.

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Europeans realized that Wilderness is an inseparable part of the European heritage


A wilderness stewardship plan is a process which guides the stewardship of wilderness to ensure that wilderness character is preserved and is unimpaired for future use and enjoyment as wilderness.

Wilderness is a very complex subject. For many of us it was a new and unknown subject. That time is over! Europeans realized that wilderness is an inseparable part of the European heritage. A Wilderness Stewardship plan is a guide to the process which will help us to guarantee a long-term survival of wilderness in a very dynamic time to which Europe is exposed.

Vlado Vancura
Wilderness volunteer

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