Wilderness Register developed
The Wilderness Register was launched in 2013, following its development by Alterra, Wild Research Institute and PAN Parks.
It records the most important sites in the EU, enabling subsequent prioritization where there is need of protection. As such it represents an important step forward for strategy to tackle the most urgent threats to wilderness and wild areas.
The go-ahead for this project was announced in November 2010 at Wild Europe’s EC Presidency Conference on restoration by Stefan Leiner, then Head of Unit for Natura 2000 at the European Commission.
The concept for the Register was originally developed by Wild Europe and promoted to the European Commission in a proposal document.
“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.”
The next step will be to develop a Register for non-EU countries, which contain some of the largest, relatively pristine wilderness areas remaining in Europe.
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
Since the initiative was developed 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”.