Wilderness assessment in Königsbrücker Heide

Naturschutzgebiet Königsbrücker Heide, Germany, is a former military area. The first military training ground here was set up at the beginning of the 20th century and since then military trainings shaped the history of this area. After the Second World War Soviet troops selected this area again as a training ground and located here also nuclear weapons.

Only after the Berlin wall broke down the new future for this land began to be shaped. Nevertheless it took several years when protected area Naturschutzgebiet Königsbrücker Heide was officially and legally designed. In that time none of the Park planners and managers have seen this land as a possible future Wilderness.

The intention right from the beginning was a Wilderness management approach following the simple principle – to keep hands off! Very likely nobody in that time believed that after less than 20 years the park managers will face a situation how to re-categorize the Naturschutzgebiet to the IUCN category Ib.

To help achieve that objective the European Wilderness Society carried out an assessment of  Naturschutzgebiet Königsbrücker Heide at the end of 2014. The European Wilderness Society assessment team concluded that Königsbrücker Heide is an excellent example of process orinted Wilderness principles and simultaneously confirmed that the area already meets many of the Wilderness Criteria. However to fully achieve a compliance with the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System  (EWQA) and IUCN 1b category several improvements were recommended. For example, that any kind of intervention must be stopped in the whole core zone, and particularly in the middle of the area where currently inappropriate management measures based upon outdated Natura 2000 Management plans are still going on.

After several days of demanding field assessment the European Wilderness Society team concluded that this area has a huge potential to meet the requested Wilderness quality standards and believed that in the coming months Naturschutzgebiet Königsbrücker Heide will become a certified Wilderness and will join the European Wilderness Network. A Quick-Audit is being prepared.

Status of the military area 1991-1998


Current status of the area 2014

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2 thoughts on “Wilderness assessment in Königsbrücker Heide

  • Yes, you are right! There are slowly growing number of people in Europe with ‘the passion and commitment to rewild to the point that areas in Europe are being managed back to wilderness’. I guess that reason for that is that we Europeans finally start to understand what we lost with disappearing wilderness… However there is still long way to go… Vlado

  • I am greatly heartened to see people have the passion and commitment to rewild to the point that areas in Europe are being managed back to wilderness.

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