Welcome to Kriton Arsenis

We are very pleased to welcome Kriton as a trustee of Wild Europe. 

Twice voted “MEP of the Year” by his colleagues in the European Parliament for achievements in forest and marine conservation during his tenure from 2009 – 2014, he has a significant track record as environmentalist and politician.

He played a key role in development of forest policy, including establishment of the EU Timber Regulation, and led the Parliament in adopting EU legislation on monitoring emissions from land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF), as well as ending important derogations of EU environmental assessment legislation. He was also active in fisheries legislation,establishing the non-intervention Fish Stock Recovery Areas in the CFP.

Kriton has since been a member of the Greek parliament until 2023. He shares Wild Europe’s principles on the importance of wilderness and non-intervention management, and founded the Roadfree Campaign which has recently scored significant successes in Greece (read more here). Additionally he brings a significant background in planning and regional development.

Rescuing the Nature Restoration Law

NRL squeezed though the European Parliament, but fundamental reforms are needed for it to succeed

It is a stark but surprisingly little-known fact that farming and forestry interests opposing the Nature Restoration Law (NRL) represent less than 2.5% of Gross Domestic Product in the EU. 

Yet the costs of inappropriate management in worsening climate change and ecological degradation fall on the remaining 97.5% of the economy.

A letter sent by Wild Europe to each of the 51 MEPs in the Environment Committee and the Agriculture & Rural Development Committee on 10th July, just prior to the vote on the NRL, pointed out this GDP mismatch and stressed that it was in the interests of all sectors of the economy to get the Law voted through.

Read More …

European Business & Biodiversity Forum shows the need for alliance

The growing urgency of climate change and biodiversity loss necessitates rapid increase in mutual understanding between business and biodiversity. 

The European Business and Biodiversity Forum, involving some 500 enterprises on 21stJune in Paris, sought to address this issue.

Wild Europe’s presentation to the Forum stressed the important role of companies in conservation, particularly restoration, and outlined measures needed to enhance this.

Read More …

Linking UNFCC & CBD – a call for practical action

Addressing the linkage between climate and biodiversity crises is widely regarded as essential for resolving them. Yet this linkage still has to be coordinated in practice at strategic level between key organisations. 

A new policy paper with proposals for a Joint SBSTA (Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice) Work Plan, to which Wild Europe has contributed, should help address the situation.

Read More …
The bigger the better… natural solutions addressing climate change

New findings accentuate value of old growth forest in addressing climate change

A UK study published in December 2022 suggests carbon volume in larger trees is likely to be much higher than previously estimated. 

This potentially has huge implications for the value of forests, old growth in particular, for mitigating climate change – and underlines a correspondingly much greater cost of their destruction.

Read More …

Australia declassifies wood from natural forests as renewable energy

Saved from the incinerator – Australia’s natural heritage

On 15th December Australia became the first G20 nation to renounce natural forests as a legitimate feedstock for bioenergy. They will no longer qualify for subsidies through Large-Scale Generation Certificates.

It underlines the need for strict protection of remaining primary/old growth forest, coinciding with the latest report to demonstrate a much higher carbon carrying capacity of larger trees than previously calculated.

Read More …

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.

It was headed by Ladislav Miko, lead environmental advisor to the current EC Presidency and Wild Europe trustee. Toby Aykroyd of Wild Europe coordinated the event with Kris Decleer of SERE Council and there was further keynote participation from Erika Stanciu, Vice Chair of WCPA, Chair of Wild Europe, and Cara Nelson, Chair of the IUCN Ecosystem Thematic Group.

Key proposals

The symposium’s proposals ranged widely cross the spectrum of habitat types and conservation modes. They included:

  1. Non-intervention management through natural processes to be a core default element in restoration and ‘strict protection’ of 10% of the EU terrestrial and maritime territory: to secure cost-effective conservation, effective protection of dependent species, mitigation, resilience and adaptation to climate change, with scale delivery of quality ecosystem services
  2. Strict protection of primary/old growth forest, involving a ban on all extractive activity, to be extended to 15% of European forest cover – enabling consolidation of fragmented remnants, effective ecosystem function, buffering and connectivity; wherever possible this will be based on recovery through natural regeneration for the c 12% needing restoration.
  3. The interface between areas with conservation governed solely by natural processes and those where conservation is actively managed (secondary habitats such as grasslands, healthlands, silvopastoral landscapes, together with individual endangered species) to be carefully identified, specified, and enacted; this includes initial intervention where needed followed by long-term set aside.
  4. The above proposals to be implemented through multi-sector cooperation based on reformed grants for protection & restoration, together with a fully activated

Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) agenda and emphasis on securing long-term protection.

Close alignment with EU plans

The proposals are designed to be supportive of the necessarily far-reaching EU Biodiversity and Forest Strategies, and relate to emerging elements for the forthcoming EU Restoration Law – as well as linking to requests by conservation networks more generally.

The call for non-intervention management as a default within the definition of ‘strict protection echoes the representations of the European Habitat Forum on the Biodiversity Strategy produced in May 2019.

Growing momentum for the key role of non-intervention

Equally, Resolution 127 at IUCN Marseilles in 2021 called for a ban on logging and extraction generally as a key element in stronger support for protection & restoration of primary/old growth forest. This was backed by a massive vote of 674 members, 93 of whom category A – ie including governments; it is in turn based on Wild Europe’s 2018 Old Growth Forest Protection Strategy.

The need for far-reaching reforms

The symposium welcomed the extra funding to be made available by the EU for biodiversity targets. However far-reaching reforms are still needed, against a backdrop of growing climate crisis ,with the main 2020 Biodiversity Strategy targets missed and 81% of habitats and 63% of species in poor conservation status.

Among further proposals from the symposium:

Crucial linkage between restoration and addressing climate change
  • A systematic strengthening in the capacity of the conservation sector for economic valuation, enterprise management, financial procurement and lobbying specialisms was cited as a key requirement – at all strategic and operational levels. This is felt essential, to strengthen rather than supplant traditional conservation approaches, if the EU Strategies are to be adequately funded and win out against competitive or damaging land use practices.
  • More immediately, there is a requirement for carefully collated restoration targets: per country, area and habitat type – with sequential milestones up to 2050. These should be based on clearly formulated baseline and achievement goals, aiming to maximise both the extent of ecosystem renovation and of the total areas involved.
  • Adoption of SERE principles of restoration has a crucial role to play here, bringing together stakeholders, identifying common ground and setting clear goals along a continuum of restorative activity – in both strictly protected and protected areas.
  • Clearer linkage is also needed in practical planning to address the twin climate change and biodiversity crises – focused on a joint UNFCC/CBD approach, reflected at national and local level.
  • One element of this is a costed strategy to abolish climate-damaging subsidies for commercial scale forest bioenergy, and reallocate these to genuine renewables, conservation of carbon absorbent landscapes and measures to reduce emissions and boost the green economy

The overall Restoration Strategy is being finalized. It draws substantially off Wild Europe’s 2020 Action Plan and will include inputs provided by the Symposium audience after the presentations on 9th September.

For further information read

Large scale rewilding across Europe: Can we overcome challenges to achieve a historic opportunity? Ladislav Miko, Ministry of Environment, Czech Republic; lead environmental advisor to current EU Presidency; former Chairman, now trustee, Wild Europe Foundation

Let nature do the job. Large-scale spontaneous regeneration: where and where not? Kris Decleer, SERE Council; Senior Researcher Research Institute for Nature and Forest Belgium

An effective supporting strategy for successful rewilding strategy, Erika Stanciu, Chair of Wild Europe Foundation, Vice Chair WCPA Europe. Founder of ProPark Foundation and former President Europarc Foundation

EU Conservation and Restoration Strategies: Insights from a Global Perspective, Cara Nelson, Chair of the Ecosystem Thematic Group for IUCN

Funding a restoration strategy: the need for extensive reform, Toby Aykroyd, Director of Wild Europe Foundation, trustee European Nature Trust, FCC Romania and Rewilding Britain

Huge potential for a wild country

Rewilding for Ireland – from theory to practice

After centuries of deforestation and degradation, ecological restoration projects are starting to spring up across Ireland – seeking to address climate change and reverse biodiversity loss.

There is useful scope for establishing a few standardised principles of good practice, and this was the theme of a presentation to some 120 members of the Irish Wildlife Trust, given in 2021 by Zoltan Kun of Wild Europe and member of the IUCN Thematic Rewilding Group.

Read More …

Our trustees & key personnel

Foundation Trustees 

Erika Stanciu (Romania)

Chair of Trustees from 2022

Former Secretary of State for Forests in the Romanian government, now Vice Chair of World Council for Protected Areas (WCPA) for Europe. Founder-director of the Propark Foundation providing training and consultancy services, and Coordinator of Wild Europe’s Wilderness Working Group. Previously President of Europarc Federation (c 400 organisations) and Director of Retezat National Park.

Ladislav Miko (Slovakia)

Trustee and Chair from 2009

Currently lead advisor on environmental affairs to the Czech EC Presidency, with a role encompassing COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh and COP15 in Montreal. Formerly Director of Natural Environment at DG Environment with the European Commission, Environment Minister in the Czech government, Deputy Director-General of DG Sanco (EC), and subsequently Head of the EC delegation in Slovakia. Author of 116 publications.

Cyril Kormos (USA)


Chair of IUCN World Heritage Network, Vice Chair for World Heritage on WCPA, Founder-Director of Wild Heritage a project of the Earth Island Institute, Founder-Director of the global Primary Forest Alliance (formerly IntAct). Previously with WILD (US) and Conservation International. Author of books on Transboundary Conservation, Natural World Heritage and A Handbook on International Wilderness Law & Policy

Kriton Arsenis (Greece)


Twice voted conservationist of the year by colleagues in the European Parliament during his tenure from 2009 – 2014, with a string of achievements in forest and marine policy as environmentalist and politician, and a background in planning and regional development. A member of the Greek parliament until 2023, he also founded the Roadless Campaign.

Erik Balaz (Slovakia)


Chairman of the Aevis Foundation, forest ecology specialist, writer, Director of Arolla Films producing documentaries on wild nature including Keeper of the Wilderness, The Living River and Wolf Mountains. Active campaigner for the protection of ancient natural forests, and originator of the Eastern Carpathian Mountain conservation strategy.

Gernant Magnin (Netherlands)

Foundation Secretary

Environmental consultant. Formerly with WWF Netherlands, and previously Director of the Eurosite network and WWF Turkey. Bird specialist, campaigner against illegal shooting, author of several publications focused on the Danube Basin, fish migration, bird guides and falconry.

Foundation Executive 

Toby Aykroyd (UK)

Director and Trustee

Background including economic development (UN Development Programme), enterprise management and forestry; also formerly director of SME lobby group representing 12,500 businesses. Involved in conservation of large natural ecosystems for the last 20 years. Trustee of the European Nature Trust, Rewilding Britain, FCC (Romania). Chair of CHASE Africa Foundation. Former Chair of Funding Support Group for BBC Wildlife Fund.

Zoltan Kun (Hungary)

Head of Conservation

Member of IUCN Primary Forest Task Force and IUCN Rewilding Thematic Group, representing Griffiths Primary Forest programme and PFPI (US), with specific interest in management of wilderness protected. Member of Wildland Research Institute. Former Director of the PAN Parks Foundation operating in 12 European countries, prior to that with WWF Hungary. President of the Federation of Large Lakes & Wetlands in Hungary.

Three speakers at the BioStrategy launch
Frans Timmermans launches the BioStrategy with Commisioners Kyriakides (Health, Food Safety) & Sinkevičius (Environment)

EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030: A major step forward

The EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy published on 20th May 2020 retains the visionary key targets in its earlier version. 

Proper implementation of the Strategy will require adequate funding and enforcement on the ground. Nonetheless the Commission is to be congratulated for sticking to its guns, so far, in advocating necessarily ambitious objectives for protection and restoration.

This represents good news for large natural ecosystem areas (“wilderness”) and natural forests – responding positively to major requests in Wild Europe’s most recent representation to Frans Timmermans and the Commissioners for Environment, Agriculture & Rural Development and Energy. This was subsequently responded to by Environment Commissioner Sinkevicius.

Ecologically priceless, beautiful – but is it protected? Matthias Schickhofer

Strong EC Commitments to protection

Key commitments by the Commission in the Biodiversity Strategy include

Legal protection by 2030 for a minimum 30% of the EU’s land and seas:

  • Strict protection for at least a third of these Protected Areas – ie 10% of total area, offering great potential for large natural ecosystem areas
  • This stipulation includes strict protection of all remaining EU old growth/primary forests along with other ecosystems
  • Establishment of comprehensive green & blue ecological connectivity
  • Call for effective definitions, mapping and management of the above – with implicit funding availability

For restoration – there is a new EU Nature Restoration Plan, with core focus on ecosystem services:

Aerial view of fenland landscape
The Great Fen – international icon for peatland restoration, IUCN UK National Committee
  • Legally binding Nature Restoration Targets by 2021 for degraded ecosystems, now delayed to end of 2022
  • These include no deterioration in PA conservation status by 2030
  • Criteria for additional areas to be determined at national level by end 2021, with effective action by 2023
  • 3 billion trees planted by 2030 (natural forest is needed)
  • 25,000 km of free flowing rivers, which can be linked to ‘blue connectivity’ and basin-scale flood mitigation, including restoration of riverine, flood sink and upland watershed forest and wetland
  • A new CAP to deliver at least 10% of agricultural area under “high diversity landscape features”. Wild Europe will be re-stressing its proposal for a supplementary Ecological Focus Area, tradable at regional level, to promote creation of consolidated large areas of natural ecosystem funded by CAP

A more mixed picture for renewable energy

For renewable energy, and the related RE Strategy, the picture is more mixed. 

A stain on the EU image: subsidised destruction of beech forest for commercial burning
  • Wording of permitted inputs for bioenergy remains significantly vague. Use of whole trees should be disallowed for financial support, not just “minimised”
  • It is unclear whether improved operational guidance on RED II sustainability criteria will support further improvements needed to recent TEG Taxonomy suggestions 
  • Subsidies for wood burning bioenergy must cease forthwith or this damaging practice, now representing half of timber consumption in Europe, will continue to undermine all eight elements of the EU Green Deal and compromise the EU’s coveted position as global leader in sound environmental practice. A poor image at COP15 in Kunming, 2021.

As Environment Commissioner Sinkevicius said at the Biodiversity Strategy launch “We cannot halt and reverse biodiversity loss without achieving Paris Agreement goals, and vice versa”.

Next steps in implementation

Much work is required to translate the 2030 Biodiversity Strategy commitments into adequate action.

  • Protection of old growth/primary forest should involve linkage of fragmented remnants and restoration of adjacent areas to enable proper ecosystem function and resilience 
  • The importance of scale and the central role of non-intervention management in delivering ecosystem services for strictly protected areas needs full recognition and application
  • The EC should promote the objectives of its Biodiversity Strategy in non EU European countries: through neighbour agreements, accession treaties, trade & aid policies, exchange of best practice
  • The 2021 EU Forestry Strategy needs to be truly aligned to biodiversity objectives with appropriate conservation measures
  • The new Forest Information System for Europe (FISE) should be an effective instrument for protection as well as restoration
  • Capacity building must address major gaps in the conservation sector’s ability to utilise macro-economic approaches and PES enterprise (payment for ecosystem services) for achievement of biodiversity objectives
  • The ‘significant proportion’ of the 25% EU budget on climate change to be spent on nature-based solutions needs clearly elaborating, along with other funding instruments – including the Recovery Instrument.
A strategy for all of Europe

A strategy for all of Europe 

The European Commission should also promote the objectives of its Biodiversity Strategy in non EU European countries.

Many of these contain the most valuable remaining areas of natural ecology in our continent, but generally have the lowest budgets for protection and the least effective legal protection. The EC can achieve much here: through neighbour agreements, accession treaties, trade & aid policies, exchange of best practice.

Implementation of Stage II of the current EU Wilderness Register, proposed by Wild Europe, will be an important step here. This would incorporate non EU countries into the existing Register and focus on non-extractive enterprise to secure conservation funding and local community and landholder support from the PES agenda

Funding and enforcement

The 20 bn Euro funding per year is relatively under budgeted for the scale of the task, and will have to come from private as well as public funds

There is additionally a ‘significant proportion’ of the 25% EU budget on climate change to be spent on nature-based solutions. This allocation needs clearly elaborating, along with other funding instruments – including the Recovery Initiative.

The need to ensure full enforcement is also critical. Many areas in the Natura 2000 network have little or no appropriate protection. Poor management at local level and slow prosecution are a major problem – with Court action at EC level (ECJ) on infringements of environmental law often being a very slow process.

Another glaringly simple problem is key habitats such as old growth forest are still not directly identified as requiring protection – one reason among many why the EU Guidelines on the Management of Wilderness and Wild Areas now need a Stage II version.

Effective reform of the Arhus Convention, strengthening access to information and justice for NGOs and individual citizens, will be helpful.

A complete overhaul of the Environmental Impact Assessment procedure is also urgently needed.

Congratulations and cooperation

Subject to the above, the EU is to be warmly congratulated for advocating the visionary aims in its Biodiversity Strategy that are so critical for addressing the dual crises of climate change and species extinction.

For its part Wild Europe also looks forward to liaising closely with representatives from forestry and land user sectors – including CEPF, EUSTAFOR and EFI – in identifying common ground and ensuring benefit for local landholders and communities as well as conservation.

Further previous top stories

Update shows wide use of the wilderness definition in 2022

Rewilding opportunities in Britain emerging

IUCN ‘Rewilding’ Task Force meeting in Brussels

President Macron announces 10% natural habitat vision for France

Large Carnivore Management Best Practice

New protection for ancient English woodland

New IUCN Task Force on Rewilding established 

Wild Europe funds for mapping of France’s potential wild nature areas

President of Slovakia to participate at Wild Europe conference

Further 5 Million funding secured for FCC in Romania

Welcome back to Erika Stanciu as Head of Policy

CEEWEB joins Wild Europe

Global management guidelines – published for wilderness protected areas

Overview of 2% wilderness target in Germany

500,000 Euro raised for old growth forest protection

Old growth forest conference (Brussels 2017) launches key protection proposals

Rewilding – a wind of change in Western Europe

Wide welcome for Wild Europe’s old growth forest protection strategy

Old Growth Forest Protection Strategy launched

Message from HRH the Prince of Wales

The impact of Brexit

Leading scientists dismayed by emerging EU climate policy and its impact on forests

Wood energy schemes “a disaster” for climate change

Holland goes Wild – a message for developed landscapes

Full steam ahead for Rewilding Britain

Wild Europe joins new rewilding group in France

The Economic Benefits Working Group

Bark Bettle Breakthrough

Wild Europe definition of wilderness

‘Non intervention’ management guidelines in operation

Wilderness Register developed

Wild Europe presentation to Chambery conference (France)

Wild Europe strategy in Naturalité publication

First bison roam free in Germany

Beaver reintroduction confirmed in Scotland

Old Growth Forest Protection Strategy launched

Support the IUCN Motion on old growth forest

A Motion calling for improved policy and funding support for old growth/primary forest is now proceeding.

Based on the Protection Strategy from Wild Europe’s 2017 Brussels conference and associated consultations, the Motion for this Resolution was developed by Daniel Vallauri of WWF France. It is currently being discussed online: (https://www.iucncongress2020.org/motion/125).

The Motion will be proposed for adoption online in late March (online), or in June during the IUCN Congress in Marseilles. The resulting Resolution will provide a significant platform at the 2020 IUCN Marseille Congress for promoting stringent protection and extensive restoration across Europe.

ACTION: Please comment online, support – and forward this information to your networks. Deadline 11th of March!

Final stage for mapping wild France

Wild Europe signed an agreement on 31st January 2020 to fund the third and final stage of this initiative title “CARTNAT” to identify and map actual and potential wild and wilderness areas. 

France: Mapping for a vision of true nature

The exercise is undertaken by IGN (Institut National de l’Information Géographique et Forestiere), Nantes University and the Wildland Research Institute at Leeds University

Phase 1 ending in October 2018 developed methodology appropriate to project objectives and geographic criteria.

Phase 2 ending in October 2019 mapped ten test sites, of which seven contain significant wild or even prospective wilderness areas. The remainder provided a context of different land uses.

Phase 3, now starting, will extend the exercise to remaining areas across France. Along with its partners IUCN France and WWF France, Wild Europe has provided funding for all three stages.

Read More …

Give your views on wood bioenergy for an IUCN motion

Use of wood as bioenergy worsens climate change, is an expensive and inefficient form of energy generation and causes huge damage to forests across Europe and in the USA (see below).

Fighting for forests? IUCN Marseilles 2020

If you represent an IUCN member organisation or are a member of WCPA or any IUCN commission, you can comment on submitted motions for the IUCN 2020 Marseilles conference. 

Motion # 038 ‘Promoting biodiversity preservation through energy transformation measures’

Representations could include (a) end subsidies for burning wood for bioenergy (b) burning wood is not carbon zero (c) safeguards are needed to protect forest biodiversity. If you have a chance to comment the document, please do so before 26 February (and encourage other allies eg. European Paper Network network to do so too).

ACTION: Log into the conference website using this procedure

Need more information on wood fuel bioenergy?

Read More …

Snapshots of the conference on wilderness and old-growth/primary forests in Bratislava

With the permission of attendees, this post includes a few images of the Conference on Wilderness and Old-Growth/Primary Forest in Bratislava on 20-21 November 2019.

Presentations of the conference on wilderness and old-growth forest, Day 2

Session 1. Model initiatives for the wild

Session Chair: Eladio Fernandez Galliano, Former Head of Biodiversity and Heritage, Council of Europe

Session 2. Launch of the European Wilderness Forum

Session Chair: Gernant Magnin, Wild Europe Executive Committee

Session 3. Natural habitats, ecosystem services and climate change: the need for sound science

Session Chair: Martin Mikolas, Forestry Faculty, Czech University of Life Sciences

  • Ecosystem services and climate change – why sound science must guide the New Green Deal and beyond Michael Norton, Director of the Environment Programme, European Academies of Science Advisory Council (EASAC)
  • Linking incentives to science: action for bioenergy in Europe – EU level and country model replication, Mary S Booth, Director, Partnership for Policy Integrity (PFPI) USA
Session 4. Promoting best practice in the wild

Session Chair: Bill Murphy, former Head of Environment and Recreation, Coillte Irish Forestry Agency

Session 5. A framework for large-scale restoration in Europe

Session Chair: Theresa Frei, European Forest Institute

Session 6. New legal, enterprise and funding frameworks

Session Chair: Viktoria Hasler, Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism, Austria

Session 7. EU Parliamentary Resolutions: to date and looking ahead

Session Chair: Zoltan Kun, Head of Conservation, Wild Europe

Session 8. European policy & practice – the wider impact

Session Chair: Andreas Beckmann, Chief Executive, WWF Central & East Europe

  • The New Green Deal and the global impact of Europe, Katja Garson, FERN (video conference)
  • European linkage with key international instruments, (UN Decade for Restoration, CBD) – the Carpathian Convention and UNEP, Harald Egerer, Head of the UN Environment Programme Vienna Office Head of the Carpathian Convention
  • Updating key instruments: Stage II of Management Guidelines for N2000 wilderness, and the Wilderness Register, Steve Carver, Director Wildland Research Institute (Leeds University), Co-Chair IUCN Rewilding Task Force
Closing session: Implementing and communicating the Action Plan for wilderness and old growth/ primary forest in Europe

Session Chair: Ladislav Miko, Head of EU Representation in Slovakia, Chairman, Wild Europe

Presentations of the conference on wilderness and old-growth forest, Day 1

Following upon the successful event in Bratislava, the presentations of the conference on wilderness and old-growth / primary forests are available now through our website.

Opening session
  • Introduction and objectives Ladislav Miko, Head of EU Representation in Slovakia Chairman, Wild Europe
  • The President of the Slovak Republic Her Excellency Zuzana Caputova
  • New Green Deal for ecosystems in an era of climate change Daniel Calleja, Director General DG Environment, EC (video) with introduction by EC personnel
  • Sustainable conservation for Europe’s natural heritage Isabelle Anatole-Gabriel, Head of Europe and North America Department, UNESCO World Heritage (video)
Session 1. Overview: challenges and achievements for Europe in an era of climate change

Session Chair: Harald Egerer, Head of the UN Environment Programme Vienna Office Head of the Carpathian Convention

Session 2. Model initiatives in Slovakia, for wider replication

Session Chair: Ladislav Miko, Head of EU Representation in Slovakia, Chairman, Wild Europe

Session 3. Progress with the old growth/primary forest protection strategy in Europe

Session Chair: Zoltan Kun, Head of Conservation, Wild Europe

Session 4. Workshops - Building a European Action Plan

Each of the themes was related to a practical initiative, so input from participants could make a direct difference.

  1. Addressing the wood biofuel challenge – the urgency of action, Coordinators: Mary S Booth, Director, Partnership for Policy Integrity (PFPI) USA Michael Norton, Director of the Environment Programme, European Academies of Science Advisory Council (EASAC)
  2. Implementing the New Green Deal & Biodiversity Strategy – for EU and non EU states Coordinators: Kris Decleer, International Board, Society for Ecological Restoration Zoltan Kun, Head of Conservation, Wild Europe
  3. Research: addressing the gaps, Coordinators: Bernhard Kohler, PA & Forests Programme, WWF Austria Anastaysiya Bakteeva, Conservation Capital
  4. The new IUCN Rewilding Task Forcewhat is needed? Coordinator: Steve Carver, Co-Chairman IUCN Task Force
  5. Illegal and inappropriate logging, innovative solutions, Coordinator: David Gehl, European Director, Environmental Investigation Agency
Conference Gala Dinner

Presenting the Clima Carpathia initiative – A world class vision proposed for the Carpathians, Christoph & Barbara Promberger, Directors, Fundatia Conservation Carpathia (FCC Romania)

Continue reading the presentations of Day 2

POSTPONED India welcomes you to the World’s premier wilderness gathering

WILD 11, the World Wilderness Congress, will be held in the city of Jaipur, in the Rajasthan province of North West India from 19th to 26th March.

In what has become the premier global wilderness gathering, some 1500 participants from 60 countries are expected.

Birla Auditorium
The magnificent Birla Auditorium at the Convention Centre, opened in 1963 by Pandit Nehru

Based at the Birla Convention Centre, the Congress provides an opportunity to shape policies and actions on wilderness, in time to influence ambitious wild nature targets at the seminal UN CBD Kunming Congress in October 2020. Surrounding this focus is a vibrant array of talks, specialist symposia, workshops, youth programmes, training sessions, exhibits and expeditions.

Jaipur and its surrounding province, with its palaces and forts, lush tiger forests of Ranthambore and arid Thar Desert, is steeped in history of the British Raj and Maratha and Moghul empires before it – stretching back thousands of years to the most ancient Indus civilizations.

See https://wild11.org/the-congress/#2020 for WILD 11 objectives, programme detail and ancillary activities.

Wolf Mountains: a trans-frontier wilderness in the making

The Wolf Mountain project, in the Eastern Carpathians, straddles the borders of Slovakia, Poland and Ukraine. It comprises a mosaic of some of the most intact montane grassland, old growth forest and wetland habitats remaining in Europe.

These areas harbour a rich biodiversity of endemic flora and fauna together with still healthy populations of wolf, bison, bear, lynx, beaver, eagle and black stork.

The core area, covering some 100,000 hectares, includes three national parks and three landscape parks. Despite nominal protection, the area is under pressure from logging and hunting.

The aim of the project is to increase levels of protection and promote connectivity between key ecosystems, supporting local non-extractive enterprises, such as ecotourism and branded products, to provide more sustainable income and employment for local communities and landholders.

The stunning landscape of Cisna-Wetlina, Kamil Soos

Wild Europe, in tandem with the European Nature Trust, originally introduced Frankfurt Zoological Society to the project, and has provided support for strategy promotion and enterprise development.

Currently overseen by Aevis Foundation from Slovakia, alongside the Natural Heritage Foundation of Poland, the project is underwritten by long-term support from FZS.

Further 5 Million funding secured for FCC in Romania

In 2019 Wild Europe 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.

Wilderness benefits for EU Strategy


Publication of the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy in May 2011 provided a range of opportunities for promoting protection and restoration of wilderness and wild areas. These relate directly to the benefits such areas can provide, in both EU and neighbour (non EU) states across Europe.

The process of re-setting targets for the Biodiversity Strategy was initiated in January 2010 with publication of the EC Communication titled Options for an EU vision and target for biodiversity beyond 2010. Discussions on new targets were initiated at a high-level EC Presidency conference in Madrid, where Wild Europe provided a presentation on Integrating wilderness into European protected areas
Integrating wilderness into European protected areas.

Wild Europe subsequently drafted a submission on the importance of including wilderness in the EU Post 2020 Biodiversity Strategy (See script immediately below)

Benefits of Wilderness in achieving targets for the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy

1) Background

Despite substantial progress in recent years, Europe’s biodiversity is under continued pressure linked principally to habitat destruction, pollution and climate change as well as the impact of invasive alien species. At the same time, there is a growing support for wilderness areas (Note 1) and appreciation of their value, as characterised by five aspects in particular:

  • Development from 2005 of the Wild Europe partnership, a group of key conservation organizations (Note 2), promoting a coordinated strategy on protection and restoration of wilderness areas
  • A Resolution for Wilderness in November 2008, signed by around 150 conservation NGOs and other organisations across Europe
  • A special Report of the European Parliament calling for improved protection and funding of wilderness areas as well as endorsement of the Wild Europe initiative, adopted on 3rd February 2009 by 538 votes to 19 (Note 3)
  • The Prague Conference on Wilderness and Large Natural Habitat Areas organized by the Wild Europe partnership and jointly hosted by the Czech EU Presidency and the European Commission, producing an Action Agenda of policy recommendations in May 2009
  • The CBD Global Biodiversity Outlook Report of May 2010 stressing opportunities for ‘rewilding’ restoration on a landscape scale across Europe (Note 4)

2) Wilderness in the EU Biodiversity Strategy

Protection of the last remaining wilderness areas, together with appropriate restoration, can make an important contribution to achieving the EU biodiversity objectives for the post 2010 strategy, particularly with reference to the Headline Target: “Halting the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services in the EU by 2020, and restoring them in so far as feasible, while stepping up the EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss”

Therefore the Wild Europe partnership suggests incorporating the following reference to wilderness in the post 2010 strategy:

Wilderness is a unique part of our natural heritage. It represents a proportion of the European continent that is very small – around 1% – and shrinking. Many areas are under threat from logging, development of infrastructure, climate change and other factors.

At the same time, there are unprecedented opportunities throughout Europe for restoration of large areas of natural process and habitat, linked by biological corridors into a functioning ecosystem.

Because of their size, relative remoteness and natural condition, wilderness and wild areas can significantly strengthen the effectiveness of the Natura 2000 network and form a key element in Europe’s green infrastructure.

If appropriately protected and restored, they can also offer substantial environmental, economic, social, and cultural benefits – for local communities, landholders and society in general.

3) How wilderness can support EU Biodiversity Strategy

The outcomes of wilderness and wild area protection and restoration can be related to individual Sub-targets within the EU Post 2010 Biodiversity Strategy:

Sub-target 1 (ST1) Integration and sustainable use of resources

  • Wilderness can provide substantial income and employment opportunities through nature tourism together with recreational, educational, social programme, corporate training and other non-extractive initiatives of relevance to both rural development and urban needs agendas. In marketing terms alone, wilderness is a strong ‘brand’ – underwritten by experiential impact and size: the latter enabling a scale of activity that might compromise conservation objectives in smaller traditional reserves. For example, Oulanka National Park in Finland generates over 14 million euro per year in income effect (including local multiplier) and employs 183 personnel (Note 5). Studies in the Bayerischer Wald National Park (Germany) indicate a similar impact (Note 6).
  • The size and intactness of wilderness areas enables large-scale provision of high quality ecosystem services, of particular relevance in addressing climate change. There is significantly higher carbon storage capacity in undisturbed forest, peatland and wetland as against their more managed counterparts. The same arguments can apply to flood mitigation (in both watershed or lowland sink locations), improved water-table retention and pollution alleviation.
  • Such ecosystem service benefits can be more likely to attract a wide and sustainable range of funding support – often from public and private sources not normally associated with conservation: carbon offset and credit income for sequestration from power utilities, industry with high energy-usage, and the general CRS and PR agendas of the corporate sector; in one 30,000 hectare region in the Carpathians alone 22 million euros of carbon offset finance from old growth forest protection was identified in 2010. Substantial hydrology related funding can also be available from water utilities, insurance companies, local authority and statutory agencies keen to reduce the high cost of downstream flood prevention, water treatment and compensation claims.
  • This opportunity applies as much to restoration as to protection projects – for example the reduction in climate changing gas emissions (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) resulting from the transformation from net positive emissions on marginal agricultural land to net negative emissions on restored habitats. Regarding flood mitigation, a report published in July 2010 by WWF cites some 800,000 hectares of floodplain restoration potential along the Danube, bring important savings in costs of flood damage and alternative investment in prevention schemes.
  • Such economic benefits can be particularly significant in remoter regions where traditional land uses are becoming increasingly unviable, resulting in widespread rural decline and land abandonment. The ‘multiplier’ effect of income injections in the local economy can be disproportionately strong in such areas.
  • The wilderness brand label can also help with marketing goods and services from adjacent productive areas, eg organic wild area beef or lamb, whilst property values can be enhanced by proximity to wilderness (not always a beneficial effect).
  • Wilderness is increasingly used to address urban social issues such as youth development, drug addiction, healthcare and conflict resolution. The effectiveness of these programmes is underwritten by 1) the large scale of areas involved, enabling such activities to occur without compromising biodiversity goals; and 2) the psychological attributes of large wild areas that can facilitate a range of relevant remedial therapies.
  • Additionally to the income and employment they bring, the societal value of such programmes can be quantified – in terms, for example, of the financial benefit to society of custodial expenses avoided, lower criminal reoffending rates or lower medical costs from improved physiological healthcare results. They also enable engagement with the all-important urban political arena where conservation traditionally has a relatively low policy and budget profile.
  • Cost per unit area of non intervention management can be significantly lower

Problematic issues:

  • There can be some local reduction in income and employment resulting from exclusion of extractive activities such as logging and commercial grazing from core areas, but these involve minimal overall productive capacity and are usually of marginal profitability. Any such loss can be counter-balanced by the funding and income potential together with employment benefits outlined above.
  • The attitude of local communities towards wilderness and its wildlife can be problematic, and appropriate awareness raising of their benefits should form part of any protection or restoration programme.
  • Lack of service infrastructure can prevent local communities in areas adjacent to wilderness from benefiting fully from tourism and other opportunities. Training, business counselling, quality accreditation and marketing support are often needed to ensure maximum value added is gained.
  • Whilst all activities outlined above are non-extractive, it is important that their scale and conduct does not undermine the very wilderness values they are intended to help support. Clear management guidelines and codes of professional conduct are needed.

Sub-target 2 (ST2) Over-exploitation

Because support for attainment of this target by wilderness and wild land involves a combination of benefits already referred to above, this is only cited briefly below to avoid repetition. However, such areas can help to tackle the effects of overgrazing, inappropriately located logging and intensive farming – eg landslides, flooding, seasonal aridification, contamination of water supplies and general pollution.

Their size and non intervention status can help species of fauna and flora to recover and repopulation regions where more intense human impact has depleted or even eliminated native elements.

As with address of the above sub-targets, they can also provide a baseline of relatively intact ecosystems against which the impacts of such over-exploitation can be measured and best means of addressing it developed accordingly.

Sub-target 3 (ST3) Fragmentation and Green Infrastructure

  • Wilderness and large wild areas have the potential to provide key ‘cornerstone’ building blocks for an ecological network; this applies at international level through mountain ranges (eg Carpathians, Pyrenees, Alps), and at country level – for example in highly developed Holland the ‘Eco-net is’ projected to cover 17% of the country by 2018.
  • The strength of the ecosystem services provision of wilderness areas, described above, can bring substantial benefits in helping promote and fund the concept of green infrastructure generally.
  • The socio-economic benefit-based approach that can be applied to wilderness has the potential to generate significant policy and funding support – thus promoting the restoration both of large individual areas and the connectivity corridors between them – and potentially adding to both the size, number and level of ecosystem integrity of smaller, more fragmented areas of habitat. This impact would strengthen both the N2000 reserve network and the green infrastructure within which it is embedded.
  • Whilst understandably centred on EU territory, Biodiversity Strategy related to N2000, green infrastructure and connectivity initiatives would not cease at the EU boundaries. Through effective neighbourhood and other policies, supported by replication of the above benefit-based valuation and utilization initiatives, the threats and opportunities relating to wilderness and wild areas in non EU European states can also be addressed.

Sub-target 4 (ST4) Invasive Species

  • The remote condition of wilderness areas and their species provides some obstacle to access by many invasives.
  • This together with the predominantly natural and healthy functioning of their ecosystems can provide greater relative resilience to such invasives.
  • Insofar as such resilience is also likely to be an important factor in withstanding the impact of climate change, this should doubly help wilderness areas – as against smaller, more trammelled habitats whose ecosystems and species are undermined by climate change, rendering them more susceptible to the impact of invasives. Such impacts may well become more marked over time, if the natural ranges and tolerance levels of different species become increasingly disrupted.
  • Overall, wilderness areas can provide a natural baseline against which the ecological health of smaller and more modified conservation areas, as well as natural processes generally, can be measured. This role may become increasingly valuable if such disruption increases in calibrating the relative impacts of invasives, and determining appropriate strategy to address this.
  • Insofar that wilderness areas can support funding generation, as against their relatively lower unit maintenance costs, this can also contribute towards cost of invasive control programmes – which are likely to rise substantially with shifting climate patterns and growing volumes of trade and travel related species introductions.

Sub-target 5 (ST5) Nature Conservation

  • Conservation of wilderness, with (near) wholly intact ecosystems and capable of maintaining itself through a natural succession governed by natural processes can be regarded as a valid biodiversity objective in its own right, and a keynote element in Europe’s natural heritage.
  • A range of species (including invertebrates) benefit from these intact ecosystems, where natural processes operate in undisturbed conditions.
  • Wilderness is also important for preserving species that require large, compact and relatively remote areas
  • Because of their size wilderness areas can support more extensive gene pools for long-term species sustainability, and facilitate opportunity for adaptation and migration in response to climate change. This effect is reinforced by their provision of more resilient ecosystems, which as noted previously can also help resistance against invasive species.
  • As applies to Sub-targets above, the role of wilderness as a natural baseline against which the ecological health of smaller and more modified conservation areas can be measured, will become increasingly important for relative comparison and development of appropriate conservation strategies.  It can also help guard against what is regarded by some conservationists as a ‘baseline shift’ whereby over time progressively lower levels of biodiversity richness, however measured, become an acceptable standard for achievement.
  • The socio-economic benefit based approach that can be applied to wilderness can, as with the above Sub targets, contribute substantially to arresting the decline in biodiversity by enabling enlargement of existing reserves, creation of extensive new ones, and provision of effective biodiversity corridors between these. Quantification of the full range of wilderness benefits, involving conventional Return on Capital, Discounted Cash Flow or other methods, enables cost:benefit related calculation of their value as against alternative forms of land use – particularly in remoter and more marginal areas of agriculture and forestry  where opportunity costs and profit margins in related to traditional land use are lowest.
  • The indirect impacts of wilderness in enhancing political support for conservation can also be significant; its ability to contribute, through economic and social benefits usage, to rural development programmes and urban social needs strengthens direct linkage between biodiversity conservation and key political concerns.
  • As outlined above, wilderness can also prospectively generate substantial funding opportunity, with potential for correspondingly lower management costs often pertaining.
  • Given that the majority of wilderness areas are located within N2000 areas, the above benefits will all contribute to the strengthening both of this network, and through impact on Sub target 3 above, broader green infrastructure on a landscape scale.
  • Such benefits can be seen in the individual initiatives being developed for wilderness areas: eg the Wilderness Register which will identify all key areas of natural habitat and process with a view to supporting enhanced protection – including those areas currently lying outside the N2000 network – thus prospectively contributing to further expansion its physical coverage (if individual circumstances are appropriate).

Problematic issues:

  • There is sometimes reference to conflict between wild areas and maximization of biodiversity, for example with species that are dependent on agricultural or multiple land use. However any localized loss is offset by gains in wilderness-specific species, particularly given the substantial potential for restoration, and can also be readily mitigated by using cost-effective naturalistic management such as herbivore grazing to maintain habitat mosaics in wild areas. Furthermore, to place the issue in context, wilderness represents a very small proportion of the EU: 1% as against 17%+ for the Natura 2000 network.
  • Any prospective conflicts between the non intervention principles of wilderness and commercial forestry – related to windblow, bark beetle and fire risk – necessitate more focus on establishing cooperative mechanisms, large scale spatial planning  and clarification of underlying scientific issues. However, this can be readily achieved within a framework of practical cooperation, and there is also great potential for achieving mutual benefit – eg through enabling funding from wilderness related tourism and ecosystem services for forest owners, particularly in areas of marginal profitability. As a quid pro quo for protecting given areas of forest it may also be feasible to raise commercial productivity in neighbouring districts.

Sub-target 6 (ST6) Contribution to global biodiversity

  • Protection and restoration of wilderness and wild areas within the Biodiversity Strategy will respond to the recommendation of the 3rd CBD Global Biodiversity Outlook report which cited the potential for restoring 200 000 km2 in Europe (of which roughly 86,000 km2 in the EU). Europe’s existing and future world class models of wilderness conservation could thus be profiled and regarded internationally within EU strategy.
  • EU wilderness policy has even wider implications for global conservation. If we in our highly populated and developed continent are seen to be protecting and restoring substantial areas of wilderness – and doing so moreover for socio-economic as well as biodiversity motives – that sends a powerful message to countries elsewhere with much larger relatively intact ecosystems which are considering future land use options.

4) Implementation of wilderness strategy

To support achievement of the above outcomes it is recommended that wilderness strategy includes four key elements, as proposed for example by the Wild Europe initiative.

4.1 Translating the strategy into practice

  • A threefold emphasis is suggested: involving protection (eg the Wilderness Register and associated protection plans), restoration and communication strategies
  • Design and implementation of strategy should involve economists, forestry, agricultural and business specialists working alongside conservationists.
  • A spatial approach involving core, buffer and transition zones in and around wilderness areas can achieve practical reconciliation of different land use objectives and activities while enabling operation of key wilderness principles.

4.2 Ensuring inter-sectoral coordination

  • A practical consensus should be sought between interested parties: landholding, forestry, farming, business and urban social as well as conservation.
  • This can be echoed through close coordination between the relevant European Commission DGs, based on awareness of the value of wilderness areas

4.3 Coherent approach to spatial planning

  • Protection and restoration projects can be viewed as part of a broader ‘regional mosaic’ of land uses that includes commercial forestry and agricultural land use areas, and promotes links with wider recreational, hydrological, environmental and urban social requirements.
  • The zonation approach used by the Wild Europe partnership – involving core, buffer and transition zones – can help achieve practical involvement with these land uses and requirements.

4.4 A multi-source funding strategy

  • Initiatives should be carefully budgeted with a view to long-term sustainability
  • New as well as traditional funding sources should be identified, through the private sector (philanthropy, general corporate, recreation and tourism) and public institutions (education, healthcare, probationary services) in addition to more traditional NGO, agency, governmental and EC provision.
  • This agenda is as much about promoting appropriate policy as actual sourcing: eg facilitating linkage between ecosystem services and relevant funding flows.
  • A valuation approach closely aligned to the TEEB initiative is needed, promoting a cost-benefit framework for project work.

5) Notes to the above

1. Brief definitions

  • Wilderness
    • Large areas without human habitation, artifact, or significant modification, where natural processes govern.
    • In addition to their intrinsic, spiritual and aesthetic qualities, wilderness areas can provide important economic, social and environmental benefits for local communities, landholders and society at large.
  • Wild areas
    • Smaller and often fragmented areas, where the condition of natural habitat and relevant species is either partially or substantially modified by grazing, sporting activity, forestry or general imprint of human artifact.
    • They are scattered across the continent and need to be connected through functional ecological corridors

2. A special Report of the European Parliament led to a motion for a Resolution of 15/12/2008 adopted on 5th February 2009.

3.The CBD Global Biodiversity Outlook Report (http://gbo3.cbd.int ) page 75

“There are opportunities for rewilding landscapes from farmland abandonment in some regions – in Europe, for example, about 200,000 square kilometers of land are expected to be freed up by 2050. Ecological restoration and reintroduction of large herbivores and carnivores will be important in creating self-sustaining ecosystems with minimal need for further human intervention.”

A smaller, but still very significant, land area applies within EU territory.

4.Oulanka National Park in Finland, income and employment statistics. see whole METLA study at:

5. A study on the value of wilderness to tourism in the Bayerischer Wald National Park can be found at:

Key elements in the wording of the EU Parliament Resolution on wilderness, February 2009

In its Resolution  “expresses its strong support for the strengthening of wilderness-related policies and measures” and 

 “Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and Commission, and to the governments and parliaments of the Member States”.


Main Actions (numbers taken from the Resolution)

Better protection of wilderness 10. Commission and Member States to devote special attention to the effective protection of wilderness areas;

11. Commission to detect immediate threats to wilderness areas;

12. Commission to develop appropriate recommendations that provide guidance to the Member States on the best approaches for ensuring the protection of natural habitats;

13. Commission and Member States to protect wilderness areas by implementing the Birds and Habitats Directives, the Water Framework Directive and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive in a more effective and more consistent way, with better financing, in order to avoid the destruction of these areas by harmful, non-sustainable development;

14. Welcomes the review of the Birds and Habitats Directives with a view, where necessary, to amending them to provide better protection for threatened species and biotopes;

15. Commission to accept the Wild Europe Initiative, a partnership of several nature conservation organisations including IUCN, IUCN-WCPA, WWF, Birdlife International and PAN Parks, with a strong interest in wild lands or nearly wild areas;

Appropriate management of wilderness in Natura 2000 areas 16. Commission, in cooperation with stakeholders, to develop guidelines on how to protect, manage, use sustainably,monitor and finance wilderness areas under the Natura 2000 network, especially with regard to challenges such as climate change, illegal logging and increasing demand for goods;

17. Expresses deep concerns for European biodiversity policy due to lack of funding for management of the Natura 2000 network; in this context, calls on the Commission to prepare, as foreseen in the Habitats Directive, Community co-funding for the management of sites in Member States;

18.  Commission to give a special status to and stricter protection for wilderness zones in the Natura 2000 network;

19. Rural development policy and the integration of environmental protection into the EU agricultural sector must be reinforced; however, the Rural Development Fund insufficient to finance biodiversity and wilderness conservation in terms of resources and its programming and expertise;

20.  Commission to ensure that the Natura 2000 network will be strengthened further to become a coherent and functioning ecological network in which wilderness areas have a central place; stresses the need for coherent policies, in particular in the common agricultural policy, transport, energy and the budget in order not to undermine the conservation objectives of Natura 2000;

Developing wilderness areas 4.   Commission to develop an EU wilderness strategy, coherent with the Birds and Habitats Directives, using an ecosystem approach, identifying threatened species and biotopes, and setting priorities;

5.  Commission and the Member States to develop wilderness areas; stresses the need for the provision of special funding for reducing fragmentation, careful management of re-wilding areas, development of compensation mechanisms, raising awareness, building understanding and introducing wilderness-related concepts such as the role of free natural processes into the monitoring and measurement of favourable conservation status; this work should be carried out in cooperation with the local population and other stakeholders;

Promotion of wilderness 6.   Commission and Member States to co-operate with local non-governmental organisations, stakeholders and the local population to promote the value of wilderness;

7.   Member States to launch and support information campaigns to raise awareness among the general public about wilderness and its significance and to cultivate the perception that biodiversity protection can be compatible with economic growth and jobs;

8.   Member States to exchange their experiences of best practices and lessons learnedabout wilderness areas by bringing together key European experts to examine the concept of wilderness in the European Union and place wilderness on the European agenda;

9.   Commission and the Member States to ensure that tourism, even if focusing on introducing visitors to the habitats and wildlife of a wilderness area, is handled with extreme care, making full use of experience gained inside and outside Europe on how to minimise its impact, and with reference, where appropriate, to Article 6 of the Habitats Directive.

Wilderness and climate change 22. Commission to monitor and assess the impact of climate change on wilderness;

23. Commission and the Member States to set wilderness conservation as a priority in their strategy to address climate change;

24. Commission, in the context of climate change, to undertake research and provide guidance as to when and how human intervention can manage wilderness in order to preserve it;

Definition and mapping of wilderness 1.  Commission to define wilderness; the definition should address aspects such as ecosystem services, conservation value, climate change and sustainable use;

2.   Commission to mandate the EEA and other relevant European bodies to map Europe’s last wilderness areas, in order to ascertain the current distribution, level of biodiversity and cover of still-untouched areas as well as areas where human activities are minimal (divided into major habitats types: forest, freshwater and marine wilderness areas);

3.   Commission to undertake a study on the value and benefits of wilderness protection; the study should particularly address the issues of ecosystem services, the level of biodiversity of wilderness areas, climate change adaptation and sustainable nature touri

Tackling alien species in wilderness areas 21. Commission and Member States to work together to develop a robust legislative framework on invasive alien species that tackles both ecological and economic impacts arising from such species and the particular vulnerability of wilderness areas to this threat.

Wild Europe Programme 2017/18

Despite the uncertainties created by Brexit, 2016/17 saw further solid progress by Wild Europe.

A key focus has been the urgent need to develop a coordinated protection strategy for remaining ancient, or old growth, forests; this iconic habitat for the wilderness agenda is coming under growing threat as Europe emerges from recession, timber prices rise and illegal logging proliferates.

We have continued our support for developing model areas and national level programmes for wildlands and wilderness, alongside a range of projects designed to promote their value.

Objectives for 2017/18 have now been published. For a strategic outline of the previous year see Achievements & Objectives in 2017/18 More detailed reports are available on request.”
Despite the uncertainties created by Brexit, 2016/17 saw further solid progress by Wild Europe.

A key focus has been the urgent need to develop a coordinated protection strategy for remaining ancient, or old growth, forests; this iconic habitat for the wilderness agenda is coming under growing threat as Europe emerges from recession, timber prices rise and illegal logging proliferates.

We have continued our support for developing model areas and national level programmes for wildlands and wilderness, alongside a range of projects designed to promote their value.

Objectives for 2017/18 have now been published. For a strategic outline of the previous year see Achievements & Objectives in 2018/19 More detailed reports are available on request.