2010-2020 EU Biodiversity Strategy – a great step forward for wilderness

The EU Biodiversity Strategy published in 2011 is an important step forward for wilderness and wild areas across Europe.

EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik introducing the Biodiversity StrategyEU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik introducing the Biodiversity Strategy

Wilderness is specifically included, for the first time - and furthermore directly in the context of forest protection (Target 3B Action 12). With old growth forest still being lost on a daily basis, this is the most urgent requirement on our agenda currently.

Such inclusion will help with promotion of the Wilderness Register and of non intervention management approaches – both important elements in a protection strategy supported by Wild Europe.

There is an ambitious aim of restoring 15% of degraded ecosystems by 2020 (Target 2). This reflects the Nagoya declaration. It also relates to the CBD’s 3rd Global Biodiversity Outlook report in 2010 which identified 200,000 sq kms of marginal and abandoned land in Europe where large scale ‘re-wilding’ (their term) with reinstatement of natural processes, habitats and species could significantly boost global conservation objectives.

There is, as expected, key focus on the economic benefits of biodiversity and in particular the role of ecosystem services in addressing climate change. This offers a further opportunity to prove and extend the remit for wilderness as an important element in EU European conservation strategy.

There are also many other elements in the EU Biodiversity Strategy through which the wilderness cause can be advanced, including issues such as connectivity, genetic diversity and resilience to invasive species.

This applies equally to wilderness and wild areas in EU and non EU states in Europe, with opportunities to support the latter through direct funding, neighbourhood agreements and trade policy.

Next Steps

With only 17% of the habitats and species and 11% of ecosystems theoretically protected under EC law actually identified as being in favourable condition, there is much that the wilderness cause can offer to European conservation.

Wild Europe will now be finalising development of its Wilderness Strategy and, within this, its proposals for Restoration Strategy and CAP reform – linked closely to support for the main objectives of the EU Strategy and its twin pillars of Natura 2000 and green infrastructure.

For a full version of the new Biodiversity Strategy, see: An EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020

Read more: Benefits of wilderness in supporting EU Strategy targets