The symbiosis of Wilderness and Research

Wilderness offers opportunities to research the unique attributes of nature and natural processes. Wilderness research and monitoring allows park managers to steward Wilderness and make appropriate decisions.

This is a reason why research is one principle of the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System. It is one of nine principles and is always a priority during the desk and field Wilderness audit. The essence of this principle is that research and monitoring should never be invasive inside the Wilderness. Hereby, research and monitoring have to minimise their impact on the Wilderness zone.

Please also read The Need for the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System

Importance of research and monitoring

Early Wilderness stewards did not have many resources to perform research and monitoring. Instead, they relied on instinct and personal experiences to guide them. Wilderness stewards today have access to a growing body of literature, related to defining, managing, and monitoring of Wilderness.

Wilderness research and monitoring explores complex as well as long-term natural and social issues related to Wilderness stewardship. It is a catalyst for synergistic, interdisciplinary activities that addresses the numerous issues that confront Wilderness stewards.

Reliable arguments for decision-making

Wilderness provides an enormous benefit to human society. Besides significant contribution to protect biodiversity, Wilderness provides wide opportunity to research and monitor the habitats without or only with minimal human impact. Growing interest among researchers in Europe to collect data in Wilderness lead to the growing amount of conferences or symposium. This is a standard forum to present outcomes of research. Recent Symposium for Research in Protected Areas in Salzburg last November or upcoming Wilderness Conference in Kassel, Germany, (spring 2018) are good examples.

Proper Wilderness research and monitoring provides reliable arguments and are important tools for the decision-making process of the Wilderness stewardship. A Wilderness research and monitoring strategy helps to improve knowledge on Wilderness. That allows stewards to implement stewardship measures more effectively and meet Wilderness conservation objectives. Therefore, any stewardship decision should be based on previous research, as research is the key to successful Wilderness stewardship.

Current situation

Research and monitoring is an important tool for smart management of protected areas. The same must be achieved with the focus on European Wilderness. The recent Wilderness audit in the Uholka-Shyrokyy Luh Wilderness is a good example, to illustrate the importance of this approach. There is a well-designed Wilderness research and monitoring plan, which focuses on the spontaneous natural processes.

There is a wide spectrum of completed and ongoing research which focus on Wilderness and biodiversity. The outcome of this work confirms that the Uholka-Shyrokyy Luh Wilderness is one of the most important biodiversity hotspots in Ukraine. The area significantly contributes to the European Wilderness Network and biodiversity conservation.

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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