Message from HRH the Prince of Wales heads wilderness and natural heritage programme
A programme of presentations at Forum 2000 in Prague on 13th and 14th October 2014 was opened by a video message from His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.
Welcoming participants, His Royal Highness focussed on the value of wilderness alongside areas of traditional agricultural livelihoods, as being essential for the wellbeing and health of modern society.
Stressing the practical as well as the aesthetic and spiritual importance of this rural heritage and the need to provide effective protection for it, His Royal Highness declared "one of the greatest assets of Central and Eastern Europe is its massive wilderness areas".
The wilderness and natural heritage programme at Forum 2000, a high-level international gathering of politicians, media and activists, was organized by Wild Europe.
Vaclav Havel, the late President of the Czech Republic, author of the Velvet Revolution in 1989 and founder of Forum 2000, played a central role in the Prague wilderness conference in 2009 which formally launched Wild Europe.
The programme was thus designed as a testament to the great statesman, built around themes from his philosophy on the environment.
Wide welcome for Wild Europe’s old growth forest protection strategy
A significant proportion of this most fragile element of Europe’s natural heritage lacks protection.
Rising timber demand, fragmentation from new transport routes and general development pose threats which are intensifying as the recession ends. Yet all too often these are tackled piecemeal by conservationists at local level where it is difficult to muster support. Above all, there is insufficient awareness of the value of this habitat.
Wild Europe has assembled a strategy to address these issues. It covers five key areas: policy framework, protective action, management practice, long-term opportunities and funding.
The strategy is currently in its consultation phase. Feedback from forest specialists in 12 countries has so far been highly positive. We are currently seeking national champions to implement the strategy in their country. Already IUCN together with WWF are doing this in France.
Please give us your feedback on the strategy:
- Are there aspects that should be added?
- Do you know areas that are under threat?
- Would you or your organization be able to help with implementation?
Wild Europe definition of wilderness finalised
A working definition of wilderness and wild areas has been developed by Wild Europe. It will enable a standardised yet flexible approach to protection and restoration of these areas, across the wide variety of bio-geographic and cultural circumstances in Europe.
The definition focuses on management practicalities and outlines a range of criteria in relation to size, biodiversity, natural processes and human impact. Emphasis is placed on ensuring the health and integrity of ecosystems, as well as providing benefits for local communities, landholders and visitors.
The definition has already been adopted in recently published EC guidelines on non intervention management and the EC Wilderness Register, currently under development.
Bark Beetle Breakthrough
New potential for acceptance of non-intervention management by foresters
A new consensus has emerged between conservationists and forest managers on management of bark beetle in non-intervention circumstances. The breakthrough centres on an Austrian initiative to provide guidance on dealing with bark beetle outbreaks in Austrian national parks and wilderness areas, without compromising the non-intervention philosophy in the core zone of these areas and at the same time providing sufficient protection to surrounding landowners and their managed forests.
This is the result of an intensive discussion process between Austrian conservationists, landowners, forest management authorities, park administrations and the Austrian Ministry of Forests, Agriculture, Environment and Water Management.
New appointees to Executive Committee
We are pleased to announce the appointment of three further members of Wild Europe’s Executive Committee.
Neil Birnie, Chief Executive of Conservation Capital, practitioner in conservation enterprise and financing which has operated in 22 countries, and co-founder of Wilderness Scotland, recently recognised as Europe’s No 1 Adventure Travel Company by National Geographic. He will be co-chairing our Economic Benefit Committee.
Jo Roberts, Chief Executive of Wilderness Foundation (UK) which specializes in developing pioneer projects to address social issues through wilderness and wild nature – including youth at risk, youth development & leadership, and conflict resolution. She will be helping Wild Europe to develop a European Forum on social benefits of wilderness.
Daniel Vallauri from the WWF France Forest Programme, who is currently organizing a plan for implementation of the Wild Europe strategy for protection of old growth forest. He is also a central figure in the IUCN National Committee group developing a wilderness strategy for France.
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Wild Europe 2015
2014 was another successful year for Wild Europe, with continued focus on key policy now coupled with development of model projects in the field. We have in particular sought to build common interests with organizations beyond the conservation sector.
This work will continue in 2015. During a crucial year for determining policy priorities in the face of lingering recession in much of Europe, we will place particular focus on using the socio-economic agenda to advance protection and restoration initiatives. Further information for any of our projects in available on request.
For a strategic outline see Achievements & Objectives
The Economic Benefits Group
The economic benefits group will be tasked with identifying, valuing and promoting the economic benefits of wilderness and wild areas, with focus on non extractive, no-impact benefits derived from ecotourism, ecosystem services and usage for social betterment.
The group will initially comprise business people, economists, ecosystem specialists, landowners, farmers, social enterprise entrepreneurs – all of whom share a profound regard for wilderness as well as contributing their professional expertise.
While the true intrinsic value of the wild is priceless, there is no doubt that realization of its economic value can attract support for its protection and expansion.