Wild Europe to become a foundation
Wild Europe has made good progress as a partnership since its formal launch in 2009. It is now ready to attain foundation status, and more detailed information will follow.
Our aim, to promote a coordinated strategy for protection and restoration of large natural ecosystems - wilderness or wild areas - will remain unchanged. So will our operating principle of supporting the objectives of our partners in this field.
As a fully-fledged legal entity however, we will have enhanced capacity for achievement. An Endowment Fund is being established to provide sustainable finance for basic core costs. This will be relatively small to start with, but at a time of much uncertainty and change in the conservation sector it sends an important message…
As a voice, a guardian, a champion of wilderness, Wild Europe is here to stay.
'Re-wilding’ – a wind of change gathers strength in Western Europe
Whilst wilderness is mainly associated with Northern and Eastern Europe, where the prime objective is protection of remaining great areas of natural ecology, this is increasingly complemented by re-wilding of habitats and reintroduction of species in Western Europe.
A growing number of countries are now adopting national strategies for restoration of large-scale natural ecosystems, amid increased awareness of their benefit to conservation objectives and society in general.
Austria has led the fray. In December 2014 it set a 2% target in its 2020+ National Biodiversity Strategy for wilderness and areas with wilderness characteristics. The Wild Europe definition forms the basis for wilderness in the Austrian strategy for National Parks, two of which will have core areas designated to Wild Europe criteria in 2015/16.
France is also moving ahead. A specialist group has been formed within IUCN (from 2012) to assess potential for a wilderness strategy. Also based around the Wild Europe definition, this brings together a range of experts.
More recently, but gaining momentum rapidly, Rewilding Britain was established in December 2014 from a coalition of NGOs, with Wild Europe as a trustee.
Full steam ahead for Rewilding Britain
This initiative was established in 2014 from a broad-based coalition of NGOs, with Wild Europe as a trustee.
It aims to catalyse the return of large areas of fully functioning ecosystems together with their wildlife to one of Europe’s most crowded and highly developed countries - highlighting the benefits of such areas to the general public, media and decision takers in government.
By 2030, within 15 years, Rewilding Britain has set itself the target of establishing 300,000 hectares of core land, connected wherever possible, together with three marine reserves.
Rewilding in France - the first green shoots
In 2012 a specialist Wilderness Group was established, within the IUCN National Committee, to assess potential for a wilderness strategy.
This brings together a widely acknowledged range of experts from NGOs with participation by the L’Office Nacional des Forêts (ONF), the state forestry agency.
Wild Europe has been invited to participate in the IUCN France Group, regularly providing input to meetings in Paris.
Wide welcome for Wild Europe’s old growth forest protection strategy
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.
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Wild Europe programme 2016
2015 was another successful year for Wild Europe. In addition to pursuing our core objectives, we have been preparing with our partners to attain foundation status.
The uncertainties facing wilderness and wild areas in 2016 are undiminished, as we await the outcomes from the “Fitness Check” and witness the impact of ongoing cuts in conservation budgets generally.
Against this trend, Wild Europe has scored useful achievements in 2015. Furthermore, our Foundation status should enable us to broaden our long-term plans and targets.
Achievements & Objectives for 2015/16 will be published shortly. For a strategic outline of the previous year see Achievements & Objectives in 2014/15 More detailed reports are available on request.
Doug Tompkins, the passing of a giant
Wilderness and wildlife lost one of its greatest proponents with the death of Doug Tompkins from hypothermia following a kayaking accident in Chile.
Highly successful businessman, founder of North Face and Esprit clothing multinationals, Doug increasingly realised the value and vulnerability of the world’s last wild spaces.
He moved to South America with his dearly loved wife Kris, where they acquired over 850,000 hectares of largely pristine forest and grassland in Patagonian Chile and in Argentina, creating a series of protected wilderness areas to be given as National Parks to the two countries. Alongside these a network of local enterprises was initiated for nature tourism and sustainable, organic agriculture.