Ambitious Restoration Strategy outlined at SERE symposium

Key proposals for a Restoration Strategy based were laid out in a symposium held at the Society for Ecological Restoration (SERE, Europe Chapter) in Alicante on 9th September.

Titled “Large scale rewilding across Europe: overcoming challenges to achieve a historic opportunity“, the symposium suggested ambitious objectives and called for extensive reforms to achieve these.

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End Carbon Fuels – a unified approach for climate campaigners

Wood burning Drax – a renewable energy image bathed in natural greenness

Wild Europe is promoting closer coordination between networks campaigning to abolish fossil fuels and those seeking to end commercial scale forest bioenergy.

This was the focus of a webinar co-hosted with Europe Beyond Coal on 19th October 2021, featuring 29 organisations from both networks, and agreement reached on the mutual benefit of closer links.  

There is a paradox whereby much-needed success in phasing out fossil fuels can, if these are replaced by forest biomass burning, worsen climate change.

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Ladislav Miko appointed lead advisor to EC Presidency

Speaking at Wild Europe’s 2010 EC Presidency conference on restoration

Congratulations to Ladislav Miko on his appointment to advise the forthcoming EC Presidency, to be undertaken by the Czech Republic from July to December this year.

Longtime stalwart supporter of wilderness in Europe, and Chairman of Wild Europe until recently (still a trustee), Ladislav will relinquish his current role as head of the EU representation to the Slovakian Republic to undertake this crucial task. 

He will be faced by a crowded schedule that encompasses numerous meetings in the run up to determination of the EU Biodiversity and Forest Strategies, as well as the emerging Restoration Law. 

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Large wilderness mapping exercise in Iceland 

Summary outcome of wilderness mapping (source: Wildland Research Institute)

Protection for several of Europe’s largest remaining wilderness areas is now within reach, thanks to a new mapping initiative. This has been undertaken by Icelandic cartographers in tandem with the Wildland Research Institute of Leeds University, directed by Steve Carver.

Based on Wild Europe’s definition and zonation criteria, itself linked to IUCN Category Ib, the initiative was launched on 22nd March 2022 in Reykjavik with Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, Minister for Environment.

Wilderness still covers over 40% of Iceland’s terrestrial area, and this exercise provides a valuable model for identifying large natural ecosystem areas that are suitable for restoration and protection in Europe generally. 

It is particularly relevant given the consensus among conservationists for non-intervention to play a significant role in the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy as the default interpretation of “strict protection” applying to 10% of EU terrestrial and marine areas. 

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A pan European remit for the Foundation

Wild Europe attains foundation status

As of 2nd February 2022 Wild Europe is designated as a Stichting, registered in the Netherlands

Our objectives remain unchanged, although our new structure will significantly enhance our ability to secure these across a broad range of activities. While we are based in the European Union, our remit will still cover the whole of Europe: from Ireland in the West to the Urals and Caucasus in the East.

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Untrodden Mountains Project logo

Greece leads the way to roadless protection

Construction or extension of roads and other ‘artificial interventions’ has been banned across large areas in an Untrodden Mountains initiative announced by Prime Minister Kryiakos Mitsotakis. 

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COP 26 Climate Change Summit – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Billed as a last chance saloon to avert profoundly damaging climate change before the 2030 target date, COP 26 in Glasgow from 1-13 November 2021 was characterised by a spate of pronouncements and initiatives. 

What did it really achieve for climate and biodiversity, and how can this be built on strategically?

A few bullet points set the scene towards COP27 in Cairo.

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Massive IUCN support for strict forest protection

By a landslide 674 votes, with only 1 against, IUCN members supported Resolution 127, calling for strict protection of primary/old growth forest in Europe. 

Furthermore this protection is based on prohibition of timber extraction – and was backed by 93 Category A members, which includes governments. 

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Perfect storm for a forest bioenergy crisis – and how to address it

Commercial bioenergy, a booming industry. Dogwood Alliance

Despite overwhelming scientific evidence that forest bioenergy worsens climate change, with higher emissions than any other fuel including gas or coal, elements within the EC currently considering reform of RED II continue to give it their strong support.

There are however crucial opportunities, currently underexploited, for addressing this issue.

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Action Plan for a wilder Europe

Action Plan for a wilder Europe

Wild Europe’s Action Plan for large natural ecosystem areas – in EU and non EU countries – was launched on 11th January.

Described as ambitious but thoroughly practical, the Plan is strongly supportive of the EU Biodiversity Strategy and many of its key targets run in parallel:

Such targets are underpinned by recognition that adequate compensation must be paid to private landholders, alongside full activation of the Payment for Ecosystem Services agenda and significant support for carbon rich ecosystems from the Climate Fund. It is important to build common ground with inter-sector consensus to achieve this.

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