President of Slovakia to participate at Wild Europe conference

President Zuzana Caputova. Photo credit: Jindřich Nosek (NoJin) - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=79831552
President Zuzana Čaputová. (Photo credit: Jindřich Nosek)

Her excellency Zuzana Čaputová, recently elected President of Slovakia and Goldman Prize winner, has provided her patronage for a conference in Bratislava on 20 – 21st November which she will also be attending.

The conference will be attended by government ministers, MEPs, senior figures from the EU, Council of Europe and UNESCO together with leaders from conservation, forestry, landholding and other sectors.

Addressing the challenges and opportunities facing wilderness and old-growth forest, its two main objectives are:

  • To produce new initiatives aimed at strengthening the protection agenda and supporting larger scale ecological restoration, on the 10th anniversary of our involvement in the 2009 EU Parliamentary Resolution on wilderness, passed by a massive and enduring 538 vote mandate.
  • To determine and develop next steps for the old growth forest protection strategy, building on the projects initiated with the 550,000 euro raised since our Brussels conference in 2017
Read More …

IUCN ‘Rewilding’ Task Force meeting in Brussels

IUCN offices
IUCN offices at 64 Boulevard Louis Schmidt, where the meeting took place.

The recently established IUCN Task Force on Rewilding was unveiled on 8th of October in Brussels, at a meeting hosted by Wild Europe.

Taking place in the IUCN offices on Boulevard Louis Schmidt, the meeting was attended by representatives from DG Environment and DG Clima, with participation and written inputs from conservation NGOs and land user organisations.

Steve Carver, Co Chairman of the Task Force, explained the objectives and operating principles of the Task Force. There was some debate on the extent of the overlap between rewilding and restoration, and feedback included the suggestion of a collation of existing rewilding experience. Clear objectives and targets were also recommended.

As ‘rewilding’ gains momentum in Europe, there is a need for a formal definition of the concept, together with a standardised framework which the various initiatives can reference.

Any requests for further information via info@wildeurope.org please.

President Macron announces 10% natural habitat vision for France

President Macron has pledged commitment to protect 10% of France’s land and sea area “in full naturalness” (en plein naturalité). 

He announced this objective in a speech at the Elysée Palace on 4thMay, as part of a wide-ranging vision to combat climate change and restore biodiversity that would see protected areas expanded to cover 30% of the nation’s territory.

President Macron announces the 10% natural habitat vision for France in the Elysee palace
A visionary President for wild nature in France (source: Elysee.fr)

Consultation will now occur to establish more specific objectives and plan their implementation. France’s IUCN Wilderness Group, where Wild Europe is represented and currently funding a mapping exercise, has discussed our definition of wilderness (espace à haute naturalité) which is used in the EC’s Management Guidelines for the Natura 2000 Network and the EC Wilderness Register. Together with the wild area (zone sauvage) definition it has potential to play a key part in this vision. In addition to environmental value, these definitionsproffer the practical potential of economic and social benefits for local communities and landholders.

President Macron’s vision, suitably focused on wild nature, is a powerful step alongside Germany, where the Federal government has designated 2% of the country to be natural wilderness: encompassing 5% of all forests and 10% of state forests. Wild Europe’s wilderness definition is cited by the German Federal Agency as compatible with the mission statement for the areas involved (Wild Europe’s wilderness definition in French).

Germany unveils large Wilderness Fund

The Federal Environment Ministry announced a massive boost for wilderness on 9thJuly 2019 – a 10 million euro per year “Wildnis in Deutschland” initiative aimed at stopping loss of species and habitats. 

This is intended to catalyse the 2% national target for wilderness, announced in 2007, of which 0.6% has so far been achieved. The mission statement for each area is cited as compatible with the Wild Europe definition in the BfN Federal Agency wilderness criteria.

More landscape like this, please…
(CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org)

The funding will be used by conservation organisations to purchase land and land use rights, with particular focus on securing large integrated wilderness landscapes. 

A clear precedent for France, and elsewhere in Europe

This represents spectacular success for a campaign by a network of German NGOs, coordinated by Manuel Schweiger of Frankfurt Zoological Society. 

With President Macron of France recently outlining what could become even more extensive 10% national targets for areas “in full naturalness”, there is huge encouragement and a clear precedent for wilderness advocates in France and elsewhere to follow.

Rewilding in Britain – significant opportunities emerging

One of the few positive aspects of Brexit is the opportunity it offers for a wholesale rethink on using nature-based solutions to address climate change.

Brexit Britain to be greener?
(Wikimedia Commons)

In its consultation document “rewilding and climate breakdown” (May 2019), the Rewilding Britain initiative where Wild Europe has trustee representation lays out a costed proposal for massive restoration of natural habitats and processes as a key route to mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. 

Promoted under the “public payments for public goods” agenda, this advocates spending 2.1 billion euro per year – 30% of the current 6.6 billion UK CAP budget – to restore over 6 million hectares including woodland, peatland, species rich grassland and salt marsh. This would sequester some 47 million tons of CO2 annually, more than 10% of the UK’s emissions. The report cites carbon taxes as a source of funding, although there is also potential related to flood alleviation – and of course the CAP budget itself.

Massive public support

These proposals are paralleled by a public petition that has now secured over 100,000 signatures, and will trigger a debate in the Westminster Parliament. 

The outcome of this opportunity is of course uncertain. But the scale of a well-costed proposal reflects massive potential for supporting the European Commission’s Natural Capital agenda. Amid heavy irony that one of the biggest practical affirmations of this agenda comes from Brexit Britain, progress on this theme and CAP reform generally in the UK is being closely watched across the European Union.

Further information is available here.

Further funding secured for FCC in Romania

Wild Europe has helped facilitate a further 5 million euros of funding for Fundatia Conservation Carpathia, the pioneering conservation initiative that seeks to protect a large wilderness area in the Southern Carpathians.

A spectacular vision for Carpathian wilderness
(Carpathia Foundation)

So far FCC has purchased over 22,000 hectares of forest, much of it old growth, along with Alpine pasture in a remote part of Romania that harbours significant populations of wolf, bear and lynx along with many endemic species.  The ultimate intention is to create a national park in the Fagaras Mountains, providing a world class conservation and tourism destination already being dubbed “The Yellowstone of Europe”. 

The 5 million grant, from the Cambridge Conservation Initiative’s visionary Endangered Landscapes Programme, will help fund restoration of logged and degraded forest, and reintroduce missing species such as bison and beaver while enhancing FCC’s local community enterprise programme.

Wild Europe, a member of the FCC board of trustees, is also on the list of CCI’s approved organisations, and was able to introduce and support FCC’s funding application.

>>>> Wild Europe developments in 2019 >>>> 

Welcome back to Erika Stanciu

Erika Stanciu is a longstanding member of our core team. 

She rejoins Wild Europe as our Head of Policy, following a role as Secretary of State for Forests in the previous Romanian government and subsequent development of the ProPark Foundation training organisation, which she founded and chairs. 

Before that, she was President of the Europarc Federation and Director of Retezat National Park in Romania, among other roles.

New office in Brussels

Wild Europe now has a small office in the IUCN Regional Office for Europe building at 64 Boulevard Louis Schmidt in Brussels. This will facilitate our representation work.