Wilderness Register to be developed

There are widespread threats to wilderness across Europe. Attribution: Horatiu Hanganu, Wild Europe Carpathia programmeThere are widespread threats to wilderness across Europe. Attribution: Horatiu Hanganu, Wild Europe Carpathia programme

The European Commission has awarded the contract for development of the Wilderness Register to Alterra Wageningen UR.

The Register will record the most important sites, enabling subsequent prioritization where there is need of protection.

The framework for the Register, including a database and interactive mapping system was developed in 2012. Inputs are now being invited during an 18 month consultation exercise.

The go-ahead for this project was announced in November 2010 at Wild Europe’s EC Presidency Conference on restoration by Stefan Leiner, Head of Unit for Natura 2000 at the European Commission.

It represents an important step forward for strategy to tackle the most urgent threats to wilderness and wild areas.

A proposal document for the Register was originally prepared and promoted by Wild Europe.

“The initiative needs to be based on a clear understanding on the benefits of these unique areas of Europe’s natural heritage, said Toby Aykroyd who coordinated the initial drafting for the Register. “It must not be seen as a new form of coercion or designation. We need to build a consensus among all parties.”

Karelia - one of Europe's most valuable remaining widerness areasKarelia - one of Europe's most valuable remaining widerness areas

Addressing the threats

Many areas of wilderness or wild land across Europe are under threat from inappropriately located logging, infrastructure development, over-grazing and other farming impacts, mining and climate change.

Before effective plans can be drafted for their protection, it is important to have accurate and updated information on the precise location of these areas, together with all their relevant characteristics – including threats and opportunities for addressing these. The Register will also provide de facto recognition for the qualities of such areas.

A wide welcome

.....yet the destruction of old growth forest continues.....yet the destruction of old growth forest continues

Since the initiative was announced it has been widely welcomed. “Just having the Register can help provide protection” according to John Loof Green of the Swedish conservation group Nordic Forests. “Many timber interests are responsible and practice sustainable logging. But where companies are still logging priceless old growth forests to make cardboard and nappies, as is still happening in parts of my country, they may well now think twice”.

For further information on suggestions for the Register from Wild Europe, see the proposal document. Please note, this shows the Wild Europe proposals - the actual Register may be developed in a different format.