In addition to reinstatement of natural habitat and process, restoration can involve reintroduction of species previously occurring in a particular area.

Some reintroductions occur naturally, such as the return of the osprey to England or the spread of wolf into South Eastern France from the Italian Alps.

Bringing biodiversity and tourism benefits
Bringing biodiversity and tourism benefits

Many reintroductions involve forward planning, including beaver now reintroduced to 26 countries across Europe, or European bison to the Rothaargebirge region in North-Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

Such reintroductions are provided for in Article 22 of the EU Habitats Directive and can bring significant enrichment to local biodiversity. To many, they also mark the fulfillment of a responsibility by man to reinstate a species he has extirpated.

Such reintroductions can also be controversial and require careful handling with full prior consultation, particularly among local communities and landholders where releases are to occur.

However, they can also help restore more balanced natural processes and enable enrichment of biodiversity as well as bringing economic benefits. Beaver create a wider variety of wetland habitats that support yet further species including mammals, birds, amphibians. Fish and invertebrates.

Similarly, by maintaining a mosaic of forest and grassland, European bison can help support a wider range of fauna and flora than would occur if a monoculture of climax arboreal vegetation were to occur.

There is increasingly widespread use of ‘surrogate’ species in place of their wild counterparts for naturalistic management of vegetation – including Heck cattle as a substitute for the extinct auroch and Konik horses for Tarpan, although there is some question over how far such comparisons reflect genetic reality.

Economic benefits from reintroduction

The wolf has brought prosperity to local communities in Abruzzi
The wolf has brought prosperity to local communities in Abruzzi

Reappearance of species formerly present can provide a major tourist attraction, of significance to the local and even regional economy.

In Scotland, wildlife tourism brings some £65 million annual revenue together with employment for nearly 2,800 – often in relatively poor rural areas. Reintroduction of Sea Eagle, the fourth largest in the world, to the Isle of Mull now produces significantly more income to local communities than farming.

In Abruzzo National Park, only 130 kilometers from Rome, local farming communities now gain better livelihoods from tourism based on the return of the wolf to restored areas of natural habitat than were previously earned from livestock herding.

Located in the Central Apennines the National Park covers 44,000 hectares of mountain forest and grassland and enjoys the Marsican brown bear as its symbol.

Reintroductions can bring similar economic benefits for local landholders and communities across central and eastern Europe as well. This can have a particularly stong impact in remoter areas, where traditional agricultural and forestry practice is less viable. However, alongside reintroduction programmes, there is often a need to focus on capacity building – eg provision of adequate local accommodation, guidance and general services if local communities are to gain maximum benefit from nature tourism.

Provider of valuable engineering services for wetland habitat
Provider of valuable engineering services for wetland habitat

Beaver are particularly prized for their economic benefit. Negative impacts from the 26 countries where reintroduction has occurred over the last 80 years have been almost without exception very limited and localised.

Positive benefits on the other hand have included flood mitigation, alleviation of pollution – together with revenue and employment from nature tourism. Because beaver consume a low calorie diet they forage for up to 18 hours a day, thus making ideal subjects for wildlife watchers.

EC Presidency Conference on Wilderness and Large Natural Habitat Areas

Keynote speakers for the opening session (left to right): Toby Aykroyd (Director, Wild Europe), Ladislav Miko (Environment Minister, Czech Republic), Vaclav Havel (former President, Czech Republic), Mike Hammell (Acting Director, European Commission, DG Environment), Luc Marie Gnacadja (Executive Secretary, United Nations CCD)Keynote speakers for the opening session (left to right): Toby Aykroyd (Director, Wild Europe), Ladislav Miko (Environment Minister, Czech Republic), Vaclav Havel (former President, Czech Republic), Mike Hammell (Acting Director, European Commission, DG Environment), Luc Marie Gnacadja (Executive Secretary, United Nations CCD)

The EC Presidency Conference on Wilderness and Large Natural Habitat Areas, held in Prague on 28/29 May 2009, developed a series of policy recommendations for protection and restoration of Europe’s wilderness and wild areas.

Introduced by Vaclav Havel, former President of the Czech Republic, it was organized over a two day period by the Wild Europe partnership and hosted jointly by the EU Presidency (Czech Republic) and the European Commission.

Over 240 participants from 36 countries took part, representing government ministries, conservation agencies, NGOs and academic institutions, as well as a wide range of interests from landowning, agriculture, forestry, business, academic and other sectors.

The Conference assessed a number of key issues, including:

  • The definition and location of wild areas
  • Determining their contribution to halting biodiversity loss
  • How they support the Natura 2000 network of protected areas
  • Recommendations for improved protection within the existing legal framework
  • Review of opportunities for restoration of large natural habitat areas
  • Defining the value of economic, social and environmental benefits from wild areas

An action agenda for Europe’s remaining wild areas

The participants of the Prague conference propose 24 recommendationsThe participants of the Prague conference propose 24 recommendations

A key outcome was the development of a ‘Message from Prague’, containing 24 recommendations identified by the participants, including policy

development, research and awareness building as key elements for an ambitious and groundbreaking agenda including policy development, research, awareness raising and partnerships which will create a wilder Europe, both in EU and non EU regions.

Europe should be proud and treasure the wilderness it still has, but it needs to do more” said Ladislav Miko, Minister of the Environment of the Czech Republic. Wilderness and wild areas form less than one percent of Europe’s surface but are a vital part of its natural heritage. Many of them are facing imminent threats that require a rapid and effective response.

Vaclav Havel, former President of the Czech Republic, commenting on the social and ethical aspects of the issue noted that “We are blurring natural boundaries: forests are no longer forests, meadows are no longer meadows. We have lost sight of eternity and infinity and are destroying nature for future generations.

Economist and study leader of the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) report Pavan Sukhdev, noted that “We are prisoners of a system which favors manmade capital over national capital and human capital and favor private goods over public goods… that is the problem.” Wild areas are the insurance for our future and investing in them remains critical.

Wilderness – the building block for a greener Europe

Over the last 40 years, some 25% of biodiversity on the planet has been lost due to the destruction of habitats, overexploitation, pollution, and increasingly climate change and invasive species. In the EU alone, 60% of most valuable habitats are in unfavorable conservation status. “The commitment by governments to halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010 seems increasingly out of reach and Europe will have to re-double its efforts if it is to come close to this target. European wilderness is the building block for a greener Europe” said Ladislav Miko.

The conference inspires us all to start rethinking our relationship to nature. During the Swedish Presidency special attention will be given to the links between biodiversity, ecosystem services, climate change, and human well being” stated Asa Norrman, Nature Director, Ministry of the Environment of Sweden, closing the conference.

Achievements & Objectives – Summary

Wild Europe with its partners has a rolling programme. Many activities and objectives are not promoted on our website, so if you are interested in receiving more information on any particular topic, please contact:


Main achievements for 2018/19

1. Drafting of Strategy for Old Growth Forest Protection from recommendations of 2017 Brussels Conference, involving 149 participants from 28 countries

1a. Initiation of Strategy – FZS partner programme through Griffiths global primary forest initiative

Of the 550,000 euro raised as a result of Wild Europe’s October 2017 conference on OGF protection, some 320,000 euro was provided for the European element of the primary forest project funded by Griffiths, and undertaken by Frankfurt Zoological Society which has been working on the following projects:

  • Updated mapping of OGF locations with Humboldt University (Berlin)
  • Development of a forest carbon model
  • Planning and establishment of community enterprise in lieu of logging in East Slovakia as part of the Wolf Mountains initiative
  • Wood fuel bioenergy project
  • Link to Griffith University (Australia) Global Primary Forest Protection network, reference international trade and policy

FZS has also now secured representation on the IUCN Primary Forest Task Force through this project

1b. Initiation of strategy for old growth forest protection – other projects

A range of other projects arising from the conference were developed in parallel:

  • Report developed on protection incentives for OGF in non-state owned areas
  • Further consultation on a standard definition structure for old growth forest
  • Representation of OGF and protection strategy to 50 Bern Convention member state (ministry) parties, generating positive feedback
  • Development of a freehold/leasehold structure for long-term protection on privately owned land
  • Proposals for working party and best practice collation with EUSTAFOR state forest agency association

2. Large Wilderness Area programme – Ongoing input to partners’ model wilderness and wild areas:

  • Sumava National Park– Czech Republic. Agreement by the Czech government to our wild nature enterprise initiative for Sumava NP, which also proposes links to BayerischerWald NP in Germany. This is thethird, non-extractive enterprise phase of our support here.
  • Romanian Carpathians– Fagaras Mountains. As an approved organisation with the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI), we provided introduction for Fundatia Conservation Carpathia (FCC) to CCI’s Endangered Landscape Programme, and input to its funding request. A grant of 5 million Euro subsequently gained. Also input to enterprise and education elements aiming at establishment of a model 250,000 ha National Park in the Fagaras Mountains
  • Bialowieza Forest– Ongoing consultation for our concept plan for significant enlargement of the core area into the UNESCO World Heritage site, first suggested in 2014 and based on community wild nature enterprise and extensive restoration
  • Wolf Mountains programme (East Slovakia, West Ukraine, South East Poland) – follow up on the non-extractive enterprise projects from the specification to Conservation Capital, initially provided and 50% funded by Wild Europe, with Aevis Foundation and Frankfurt Zoological Society as partners

3. National level

  • IUCN France– further engagement through Wild Europe’s membership of the Wilderness Group, with funding for a mapping exercise, identifying model wild and prospective wilderness areas, and strategy for addressing restoration opportunities
  • Rewilding Britain– ongoing support, including for the multi agency Pumlumon area initiative in central Wales which recently won 5 million Euro from the ELP. A new project has been identified for the Peak District National Park in Central England, and costed proposals put to government for large-scale natural habitat restoration to sequester carbon emissions
  • German government wilderness strategy– definition for Federal target at 2% of national territory reaffirms linkage to Wild Europe definition
  • Slovakia– correspondence with government, expressing appreciation of proposals for prospective transfer of national park management to the Environment Ministry

4. Development of key topic/strategy agendas

  • CAP reform proposals promoted, involving reallocation of payments towards ecosystem service provision, modification of GAEC regulations, input of Ecological Focus Area supplements tradable at regional level, and general promotion of a stronger socio-economic agenda in coordination with land user associations.
  • Definition for wild areas, now under consultation. We are seeking to parallel our 2013 wilderness definition, adopted for the EC Management Guidelines and Wilderness Register. The aim is to provide flexible criteria for wildness and its restoration with standardized application in any biogeographic and cultural circumstance.
  • Working partnership with a legal network and newly formed conservation body, developing a new form of long-term legal protection for wilderness and wild areas on private land, including those with old growth forest.
  • EC Guidelines: Phase II project developed and proposed

5. Strengthening Wild Europe’s organizational capacity

  • Wild Europe office opened at the IUCN building in Boulevard Louis Schmidt, Brussels. Wild Europe’s EU legal foundation status assessed in 4 countries for post Brexit scenario
  • Alternative national legislatures assessed for Wild Europe future constitution post Brexit

Further information is available on all these initiatives, via


Main achievements for 2019/20

1. Implementation of old growth/primary forest strategy

  • Wild Europe OGF/wilderness conference in Bratislava 20/21stNovember 2019
  • Lobbying for total protection of old growth/primary forest in the EU
  • Further funding and launch of Francesco Sabatini forest mapping
  • Production of definition & management principles for OGF/primary forest
  • Support for developing carbon benefits model of OGF
  • Creation of IUCN motion for improved OGF protection (Daniel Vallauri) based on WEI Strategy for Protection
  • State agency project: best practice and set-aside represented to EUSTAFOR
  • Agreement on value of OGF secured from Presidents of CEPF & EUSTAFOR

2. Further support for wilderness and wild areas

  • Wild Europe conference in Bratislava 20/21stNovember sets key targets
  • Lobbying for 10% wilderness target in EU and non-EU states
  • Support for FCC Romania, including 5.5 million Euro facilitated from ELP
  • Extended protection agreed by Czech government to Sumava NP
  • Substantial inputs to Clima Carpathia mega protection initiative
  • Support for Central European Wolf Mountains project
  • Finalisation of freehold/leasehold non-state landowning structure in UK to support very long-term protection & restoration of wild areas

3. Input for national strategies

  • Proposal for France Sauvage NGO network, including support for Macron vision of 10% haute naturalité/protection forte
  • Funding for mapping project to identify key wilderness areas in France
  • Proposals for implementation of German 2% target: PES potential
  • Finalisation & promotion of the definition for ‘wild areas’ in Europe
  • Launch of enlarged Hohe Tauern NP, Austria wilderness (Wild Europe criteria)
  • Rewilding Britain – through board, including input to English Tree Strategy

4. Development of key topic/strategy agendas

  • Membership of EC Working Party on Forests & Nature for 2020 EU Biodiversity Strategy implementation
  • Development of briefing materials for the Working Party
  • Inputs to updated 2015 EC Guidelines for Forest Management in N2000
  • Input to EU Biodiversity and Forest Strategies
  • Input to EU Restoration Strategy & targets, building on 2010 Strategy
  • Sound Science initiative launched for forest bioenergy campaign
  • Further input to 2020 CAP programme
  • Combatting bias in EC consultation on forest bioenergy

5. Promotion of conservation infrastructure development

  • Meeting facilitation and input for IUCN Rewilding Task Force
  • Development of proposals for European Investment Bank role
  • Proposals for linkage between EC N2000, Bern Convention Emerald Network and UNESCO WH and Biosphere networks

6. Strengthening Wild Europe’s organizational capacity

  • Stichting foundation structure (Netherlands legislature) chosen and prepared
  • Zoltan Kun appointed Head of Conservation, Erika Stanciu appointed Head of Policy

Members of the WWG mapping sub-group discuss the latest techniques for a wilderness register.
Members of the WWG mapping sub-group discuss the latest techniques for a wilderness register.

Wilderness Working Group

The Wilderness Working Group (WWG) brings together leading wild area practicioners from across Europe. The Group’s remit is to develop policy and propose practical initiatives for protection and restoration.

It is chaired by Erika Stanciu (Wild Europe Head of Policy), and its work includes assessing practical definitions, mapping, support for new initiatives such as the Wilderness Register, and fund raising proposals for a Pan-European communications strategy.

The WWG is currently comprised of participants from 15 countries: Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, England, France, Finland, France, Hungary, Netherlands, Romania, Scotland, Slovakia, Sweden, Ukraine and the USA. Its membership includes NGO representatives, national park directors and scientists.

Technical sub-groups have been created, to help formulate a definition for wilderness and wild areas. And, most recently, to review and propose improved approaches for mapping and monitoring – in parallel with development of the Wilderness Register.

A policy discussion at IUCN office in Brussels

Other meetings

Wild Europe develops its policies from a wide range of inputs, with a series of ad hoc meetings which discuss particular topics.

In the photo to the left, a group of NGO representatives examines proposals. Participants included, from left to right: Michael Zika (WWF Austria), Feiko Prins (Natuurmonumenten, retd), Joep van de Vlasakker (Flaxfield Nature Consultancy, Belgium), Sandra Bakker (Statsbosbeheer, Netherlands), Bill Murphy (Coillte, Republic of Ireland), Denis Strong (National Parks and Wildlife Service, Republic of Ireland), Cipriano Marin (UNESCO), Ishwaran Natarajan (UNESCO), David Morris (Caucasus Nature Fund), Monika Jacobs (IUCN Regional Office for Europe), Zdenka Krenova (Biodiversity Research Centre, Czech Republic), Ben Delbaere (ECNC/LHN). Backs to camera: Zoltan Kun (European Wilderness Society), Peter Hobson (CEEM, UK), Federico Minozzi (Europarc Federation)

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

A significant proportion of this most fragile element of Europe’s natural heritage lacks protection.

Beech forest, Gargano National Park, Italy (Daniel Vallauri, WWF France)Beech forest, Gargano National Park, Italy (Daniel Vallauri, WWF France)

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.

The strategy is currently in its consultation phase. Feedback from forest specialists in 12 countries has so far been highly positive. We are currently seeking national champions to implement the strategy in their country. Already IUCN together with WWF are doing this in France.

Please give us your feedback on the strategy:

  • Are there aspects that should be added?
  • Do you know areas that are under threat?
  • Would you or your organization be able to help with implementation?

All communications please in the first instance to

Options for building a strategy for old growth forest protection in Europe


The purpose of this document is to catalyse development of a strategy for protection of remaining old growth forest areas in Europe.

A significant, if as yet undetermined, proportion of this most vulnerable and precious element of Europe’s natural heritage lacks adequate protection – both within and outside the European Union. It is central to the wilderness and wild area agenda.

Recent moves to redesignate and develop core parts of Sumava National Park have shown how rapidly even the most seemingly secure areas can fall under threat. At the same time, wider challenges are occurring across Europe: with rising timber prices and usage, impact of land restitution, fragmentation from new transport routes and pressure for measures to combat bark beetle as climate change takes hold.

Against this backdrop, there is a need to secure effective strategy for protection of remaining areas of old growth forest. Strong threats are often still being addressed piecemeal, and there is a lack of general awareness of the value of this resource and alternative means of ensuring it is preserved for posterity.

However, wilderness forest is, for the first time, recognized in the 2010 EU Biodiversity Strategy (Target 3B Action 12) and this can provide a useful basis for improved support along with a number of emerging initiatives and opportunities.

Focus should be placed on seeking consensus between conservation, landholding, forestry, local community and broader public interests.

Feedback requested on this document

The following summary suggestions are intended to establish an initial framework of reference.

They form a menu of options, and interested parties are invited to provide comments, amendments and additions for development of a working strategy.

Possible key elements of the Strategy

  1. Preparatory work: what, where and how
    1. Establish an Old Growth Forest Protection Forum, comprising representatives from key organizations in conservation, forestry, landholding and other sectors – a mainly online entity enabling collation of expert advice and development of a joint approach on specific actions
    2. Secure agreement on a practical definition of undisturbed, old growth (ancient), wilderness forest with uninterrupted habitat tradition, encompassing its interface with other habitat types (see ACT Report on Undisturbed Forests for EC, 2010) and the new EC validated definition of wilderness (produced by Wild Europe 11/2012)1
    3. Catalyze completion of a comprehensive map of old growth forest across Europe showing location and protective status. Identify priority areas with incomplete protection
    4. Use appropriate implementation of EC Guidelines on non intervention management in wilderness and wild areas for the Natura 2000 network, published in August 20132 and EC Wilderness Register3 (scheduled from Autumn 2013), along with HNV and other appropriate mapping and cataloguing initiatives, to underpin this mapping exercise
    5. Identify, wherever possible in quantifiable terms, the non-extractive multiple benefit values of old growth forest: including ecotourism4 , education – and ecosystem services5
  2. Promoting a policy framework – the EC and beyond
    1. Promote implementation where relevant of the EU Biodiversity Strategy, viz Target 3B Action 12 – which calls for Member States to ensure that forest management plans or equivalent instruments include preservation of wilderness areas. This should involve proactive assessment of plans at relevant MS level (national, local authority). Catalyse identification, promotion and implementation of next steps towards full protection
    2. Link to key elements of European Forest Strategy, Natura 2000 species categories, UNESCO World Heritage, regional initiatives (2011 Carpathia Convention; the European beech OGF inventory initiative) and individual country opportunity so far as feasible – eg Germany wilderness & forest targets, Romania (WWF initiative), UK forestry review
    3. Promote the non-extractive multiple benefit value of old growth forest to the European Commission’s DG Environment: Natura 2000 and the EC Green Infrastructure Programme – biodiversity, ecosystem and socio-economic services
    4. Link to relevant DGs: DG Environment, DG Clima, DG Reggio, DG Agriculture and Rural Affairs (Wild Europe CAP reform proposals), DG Science & Innovation, DG Social & Employment Affairs (social benefits) etc
    5. Incorporate calls for OGF protection into EU Parliamentary Questions and Resolution. These follow the successful Resolution in February 2009 passed by 538 votes to 19 which also endorsed the Wild Europe initiative
    6. Promote the non-extractive multiple benefit value of old growth forest to key forest, landholding, local community and other institutions
    7. Ensure old growth forest is well profiled in promotion and implementation of the new EC guidance on Non Intervention Management in the Natura 2000 Network. Identify key opportunity sites (Section I above), promote direct and indirect benefits for biodiversity.
    8. Correlate with input of key areas to the first edition of the EC Wilderness Register currently under development, and promote infill of the remainder with maximum speed – with linkage where relevant to appropriate individual protection plans.
    9. Assess potential for leverage in non EU states: Neighbourhood Agreements, transition arrangements, trade and aid agreements, exchange of best practice, linkage with local NGOs etc to determine strategy
  3. Protective action
    1. Support creation of an Early Warning System, for identifying and addressing new threats as soon as they emerge, before resource is invested by loggers or developers in influencing planners and decision takers. Promotion of support & capacity building for local campaign groups.
    2. Build support for appropriate collective lobbying where old growth forest and its wilderness principles are under threat – viz Sumava National Park6 , Romanian OGF petition – and link to decision taker targeting and multi media campaigns. Disseminate best practice here.
    3. Catalyze opportunities for development of appropriate protection plans linked to individual areas identified in the future Wilderness Register but not yet adequately covered, based on multi-sector consensus approach underpinned by incentives where feasible.
    4. Legal protection – no new legislation is feasible presently at EC level, but promote better implementation and enforcement of existing law, collate and disseminate information on best practice legislation at MS and local authority levels. Identify weaknesses in existing protective legislation. Link to current initiative assessing wilderness legislation at Tilburg University7 , including assessment of effectiveness of existing Natura 2000 legislation for protecting identified wilderness areas, particularly where highlighted by implementation of new EC guidance (also assess possibility for including new species/habitats).
    5. Ensure existing legal instruments are supported by appropriate research – including collection of investigative information as necessary to achieve practical results: support for full disclosure of timber sourcing in corporate accounts, liaising with investigations of timber industry where appropriate. Ensure protective coverage in HCVF and FSC and other systems.
    6. Identify existing incentives for protection – eg: subsidy best practice at EU, national and local level. Identify requirement for further incentives for OGF protection and restoration.
    7. Collate information on models for securing funds for landholders and communities for forest protection (avoided deforestation) and restoration from ecosystem services: carbon sequestration, flood mitigation, pollution alleviation. Identify in particular EC measures that could help facilitate payment for ecosystem services (PES).
    8. Develop a practical project to illustrate the value of OGF to private landowners (PES, tourism etc), identifying what further incentives may be required (consultant and format identified)
    9. Assess impact on OGF of renewable energy, including biomass, wind farms, HEP. Role of perverse subsidies.
  4. Management practice
    1. Ensure old growth forest is well profiled in promotion and implementation of the new EC guidance on Non Intervention Management in the Natura 2000 Network at field level. Identify key opportunities for enhanced protection, promote direct and indirect benefits for biodiversity.
    2. Promote a strategy to address the impact of climate change – bark beetle, fire and wind throw – in tandem with the forestry sector (institutions, government agencies and private landholders) and other interested parties.
    3. Promote effective approach at EC and national level to disease management generally where relevant – viz: ash dieback, sudden oak death, alder canker
    4. Promote best practice in management planning– eg the TENT project with BSPB in Bulgaria for District Authorities8 .
    5. Profile forest agencies that change structure from 100% timber production and develop protection strategies as model organizations: Coillte (Republic of Ireland)9 , Staatsbosbeheer (Netherlands)
    6. Ensure linkage to protective coverage by FSC and other certification systems.
  5. New opportunities for long-term protection, linkage and restoration
    1. Highlight examples of new wilderness forests creation: through protection and restoration of existing near natural forest (CCF Romania, Durrenstein Austria10); natural or assisted regeneration on marginal farmland – with reference to Target 2 of EU biodiversity Strategy in tandem with CBD GBO Report (2010).
    2. Catalyze restoration, expansion and linkage of old growth forest areas. Promote individual projects – eg Bialowieza Poland/Belarus.
    3. Assess and promote alternatives for landholding in perpetuity – land purchase: eg the Danish model for purchase, input of restrictive covenant and resale of key areas; opportunities for REDD+ support or purchase of boreal forest.
    4. Promote concept for land purchase fund11, identifying multiple sources
    5. Assess and promote model projects for forest protection and restoration in N2000 network: takeover of N2000 area management, identifying wilderness areas with zonation system, inputting benefit based incentive systems and securing lasting protection through National Park designation.
    6. Assist and catalyze development of national wilderness strategies12
    7. Implement ‘business support packages’ (see Wild Europe proposals for Green Infrastructure programme and CAP reform13)
  6. Funding and implementation of plan
    1. Canvass the ability of Wild Europe partners and other organizations to implement elements from the above strategy
    2. Assess opportunities for funding support: EC DGs, LIFE+, institutions, philanthropy, individual project partners
    3. Secure finance for a small secretariat: 1 FT coordinator within the Wild Europe structure, supported by Wild Europe promotion and administration
    4. Develop an EC backed conference for 201414 to publicly launch and promote the OGF Protection Programme (see separate document)
    5. Assess opportunity for developing a communications strategy – website based initially – encouraging a culture of old growth forest awareness in a wilderness/wild context: targeting key programmes such as N2000 and sharing information on best practice initiatives at national and local level.

Suggested objectives for the Strategy

Short-term (18 months)

  • All key OGF areas recorded and recognized
  • Natura 2000 management recognizes and plans for ‘OGF’ forest protection within its network
  • Improved protection promoted for key OGF areas external to N2000 network
  • Greater awareness of OGF benefits and threats among key interests
  • ‘OGF’ protection included in EU Parliament Resolution
  • Credible policy leverage programme in place for non EU OG forests
  • Effective Early Warning System in place for addressing key threats
  • Stronger populist political mandate for OGF protection (Europarliament etc)

Medium term (3-5 years)

  • Key OGF areas recognized and protected
  • Facilitation of funding opportunities from low impact, non-extractive benefits of OGF
  • Credible incentivized protection initiatives in place for private sector
  • Designation of new protected OGF areas, with restoration and connectivity
  • Next stage of EU Biodiversity Strategy OGF support (implementation of Target 3B, Action 12) under way
  • Network for land purchase fund established
  • Opportunity considered for targeted protection legislation, if needed

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
+ 44 7793 551 542

[1] Document available on request

[2] Promoted by Wild Europe

[3] Initial proposal prepared and lobbied by Wild Europe, to provide a base-point for protection planning

[4] New market led approaches are being developed to allow more effective value added to local communities

[5] Model initiatives being trialed using carbon credits to fund protection and restoration –for forest habitat (hence the proposal to FCC in Frankfurt July 2013) and peatlands (foundation of PPL Ltd by European Nature Fund)

[6] Further information on the Wild Europe coordinated petition and current situation is available on request

[7] Currently led by Kees Bastmeijer

[8] A model project promoting recognition and protection of wilderness forest in the planning process. Further information available from the European Nature Trust.

[9] Collaborative project between Irish Forest Agency and BallycroyNational Park to create 11,000 hectares declared as forest and wetland wilderness in County Mayo, North WestIreland, personally supported by Irish PM while EU President, and launched at conference co-chaired by Wild Europe in May 2013.

[10] Where the wilderness, non-intervention area was protected through a one-off LIFE+ payment, and more recently extended through annual funding from national sources

[12] For example, Wild Europe is currently liaising closely with IUCN France on development of a national strategy for wilderness, including forests

[13] CAP reform proposals from Wild Europe developed during Danish EC Presidency – document available on request

[14] Modeled on Wild Europe’s EC Presidency conferences on wilderness in Prague (2009) and Brussels (2010)

Natural Ecological Processes

  • Abiotic processes
    • Wind (transport of soil, blowing down trees: making open spots in the forest and holes and heaps for varied micro habitats)
    • Water: streams, waves, flooding, ice, snow – including hydrological impact, flood mitigation, water table maintenance
    • Fire
    • Avalanches
    • Geology: minerals and salt impact – including soil and water composition + richness
    • Climate
  • Biotic processes
    • Wildlife
      • Herbivores (large and small)
        • As food for carnivores, carrion eaters/scavengers, dung eaters etc.
        • Seasonal/diurnal migration & population dynamics
        • For natural management
          • Grazing & browsing
          • Tree bark stripping
          • Manuring
          • Dam building, wetland creating (beaver)
          • Burrowing (rabbits), rooting (wild boar)
          • Seeding (squirrel, jay)
          • Cleansing (filtration from sedges, dam oxygenation)
      • Carnivores
        • Prey-predator relationship: equilibrium densities for a balanced ecosystem
        • Managers of healthy prey populations
        • Indirect impact on vegetation and processes (via effect on prey)
      • Scavangers (large and small)
      • Disease – vectors including bark beetle, moth, fungus
      • Genetic selection and evolution, diversity
      • Reproduction, migration internally and repopulation of external areas
      • Adaptation, resilience (eg in response to climate change, alien species impact)
    • Habitats/flora
      • Natural succession to climax vegetation
      • Habitat mosaics determined by natural dynamics
      • Healthy and diverse ecotone functioning
      • Food source provision
      • Shelter, bedding, medicinal use
      • Genetic selection and evolution, diversity
      • Reproduction, spread internally and repopulation of external areas
      • Adaptation, resilience (eg in response to climate change, alien species impact)
      • Large trees needing a long development period to fulfill ecological potential
    • Natural cycles
      • Sequestration, storage, emission of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane
      • Carbon – availability of dead biomass (trees, reeds, grasses) as base for microbiotic activity and invertebrates in the foodchain
      • Nitrogen
      • Other elements

Key principles and indicators for proper functioning of natural processes:

  • Scale – large enough to permit as full a range of processes as possible to function
    • Abiotic: room for the water, fire and wind processes
    • Biotic: especially on the level of meta-populations: “key (steering) species”, facilitating viable gene pools, enabling migration and adaptation
  • Self-contained so far as possible – including water sources, habitat ranges
  • Influence from external influences (pollution, alien species, human impact) minimal
  • Highest species variability and broadest age structure within species that can be permitted by local geography

Old Growth Forest Protection Strategy launched

The strategy developed through the Wild Europe conference in September for Protection of Old Growth Forest in Europe has now been launched.

A sixteen page document summarising the proposals is being circulated to the 149 organisations and individual experts from 28 countries who participated, together with a further 1100 contacts across Europe who were invited to the conference or otherwise involved in consultation and formulation of proposals.

Beech forest habitat

“The objectives behind this Strategy are necessarily ambitious” declared Toby Aykroyd, coordinator for Wild Europe “But if the many organisations expressing an enthusiastic welcome for it are now able to translate this into practical action, these objectives can be achieved”.

A race against time

Ancient forest habitat is an exceptionally rich and fragile element of our natural heritage. Yet it is still under imminent threat of destruction in many areas. With rising timber prices, inappropriately located infrastructure, and even the impact of some misconceived renewable energy policies, there is a race against time to protect it.

Logging in Fagaras mountain

Your comments on the Strategy are welcomed:

  1. How might it be added to?
  2. How would you like to get involved?
  3. Do you know others who might also like to be involved?
  4. Can you provide information on areas of forest under threat?

Emails in the first instance please to