The different definitions of wilderness values in Europe

Scientists, philosophers, poets, and politicians have defined Wilderness in various physical, biological, and metaphysical terms. Oelschlager in 1991 followed a metaphysical line of thought, and described Wilderness as a subjective ‘idea’ in the mind of the beholder.  There are many differing opinions what wilderness is.

Please also read: Refining Wilderness definitions internationally

US Wilderness Act

According to the Wilderness Act, statutory wilderness is clearly a physical place and not just a metaphysical idea. Here are some examples. For example the US Wilderness Act uses these many physical and biological terms to define statutory Wilderness as:

A a land area without permanent improvements or human habitation… which generally appears to have been affected primary by the forces of nature” and “has at least 5000 acres of land or is of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use an unimpaired conditions. (Wilderness Institute, 2004).

Kalkalpen Wilderness, Austria

The consensus definition of wilderness in a Europe is even more specific. It includes:

“the forces of nature  – a wilderness is an area governed by natural processes…” and also the issue of site “…large enough for the effective ecological functioning of natural processes” but also specify that wilderness is an area “… unmodified or only slightly modified and without intrusive or extractive human activity, settlements, infrastructure or visual disturbance.”

Jasper Wilderness, Canada

Following this line we can come to the conclusion that capturing both the physical a metaphysical perspective, defines wilderness as:

“a place where an idea is clearly expressed: the idea of wilderness” .

Zacharovanyy kray Wilderness, Ukraine

This indicates that Wilderness is the place:

“retaining its primeval/natural character governed by natural processes and influence” where “man himself is a visitor who doesn’t not remain” and which because absence of “...intrusive or extractive human activity, settlements, infrastructure or visual disturbance….”  has “exceptional opportunities for solitude or unique experience and unconfined type of recreation!

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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