Leaders of 11 of Europe’s most influential wilderness protection organisations joined forces to further promote the 3rd resolution of the 10th World Wilderness Congress (aka WILD10) about saving Europe’s wilderness, rewilding nature, and letting wildlife to come back. As a result of cooperation, the 2nd edition of the Vision for a Wilder Europe document has recently been published.
Europe, the world’s most densely populated continent, has long been a region of many borders, jurisdictions, and cultures, and this political reality has also affected nature conservation thinking and planning. It is also a continent that for a very long time sought to subdue wild nature and heavily manage those remaining areas containing natural character and qualities. While it is also a continent whose Natura 2000 system of protected areas encompassing 28 countries is the largest such system in the world, whose conservation policies over the past 50 years together with the Emerald Network of protected areas for the 15 countries outside the European Union have created some significant success stories, it also faces a growing budgetary reality that does not allow sufficient attention, such as enforcement of nature conservation regulations, in all these areas.
As the document states in its foreword we have begun to recognise the need for wild land to provide ecosystem services like clean water and air, as base-line scientific reference areas, for recreation and tourism… and indeed, to refresh our human spirit and wellbeing. People understand that wilderness protection and rewilding are at the core of sustainability – handing over a healthy environment to coming generations and not limiting their choices.
“The European Wilderness Society listed in the document as one of three European NGO to focus on wildernes is happy to work with the other 10 European organisation in order to preserve our last great places of wilderness for future generations. We believe that the Vision for a Wilder Europe will be a milestone document to bring the stewardship of wilderness into the mainstream of nature conservation in Europe.” adds Zoltan Kun, chairman of the European Wilderness Society.
Let us highlight the 1st point of the document, which deals with existing wilderness areas.
“Less than 1% of the European territory has been designated as ‘wilderness’ but a larger area still possesses the essential qualities of wilderness but remains without formal protection. However, threats to these areas continue to mount, such as from forestry, farming, mining, development of hydropower and wind farms. It is a question of decency, moral obligation, heritage, history, identity and significant economic and emotional value for a prosperous and healthy European society to ensure strong protection of these areas for the future using existing legal instruments at national and international level.”