Standardised Wilderness quality in Europe

A standardised Wilderness quality is an important precondition to support the European Wilderness Network. It means that we use the same system to determine the quality of Wilderness all across Europe. Especially important to mention is that we can implement the standardised Wilderness quality independent of country, biotopes or local legislation.

A tool to implement the standardised Wilderness quality is the Wilderness Audit. The Audit enables us to guarantee the same Wilderness quality standard throughout the European Wilderness Network, whether you visit audited Wilderness in Ukraine, Austria, Finland or Germany. As a result, visitors do not encounter grazing sheep, nor motorized vehicles in the Wilderness.

Please also read: European Wilderness Quality Standard And Audit System

European Wilderness needs Wilderness audit

The nature conservation legislations vary from country to country in Europe. These legislations may even differ within a single country. This occurs when managers control the nature conservation issues at regional or provincial level. Therefore, it is important to have one common Wilderness definition. This Wilderness definition describes how Europeans interpret Wilderness. Additionally, it is important to have a standardised Wilderness quality and Wilderness audit system. This encompasses a set of measurable indicators that we can apply habitat-independently. That helps to prevent foresters exploiting the forest and hunters hunting wild animals in the Wilderness. As a result, all these attributes support the building of trust.

The standardised Wilderness audit guarantees that the quality is equally interpreted and implemented.

EWS - Plaul Vanata Wilderness Romania -10565_
The standardised Wilderness audit guarantees that the quality is equally interpreted and implemented.

Standardised Wilderness quality

There was absence of a coordinated strategy on Wilderness in Europe in the past decade. The main reasons for this were the lack of common Wilderness definition, and standardised Wilderness quality and Wilderness audit system. The European Wilderness definition filled this gap partially in 2015.

The implementation of the European Wilderness definition became the main objective of the European Wilderness Society. To achieve this, the European Wilderness Society developed the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System in the following year (2016). The European Wilderness Society started with the implementation of the standardized Wilderness audit in several Wilderness. Nowadays, almost 40 certified areas are member of the European Wilderness Network.

Standardised Wilderness audit

The European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System quickly became a tool for an objective examination and evaluation of Wilderness. With this tool the Wilderness stewards can easily implement the standardised Wilderness quality throughout Europe. It enables them to compare Wilderness in diverse landscapes, forests, rivers, coasts and islands across Europe.

Consequently, there is no other detailed, practical, and pragmatic Wilderness audit system available, despite several ongoing research activities aiming to assess Wilderness. Most research either focusses on theoretical reflection of the Wilderness concept or is strictly case-study based.

Experience with standardised Wilderness audit

After several years, the Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System became well-known and widely accepted. The experiences from fieldwork during Wilderness audits  collected during last years is the most valuable asset. That knowledge contributes to guarantee high quality of the European Wilderness Network.

EWS - Kalkalpen Wilderness Press Photos -06393_
The field Wilderness audit knowledge collected during last years on Wilderness Audit is the most valuable asset.

Vlado Vancura

Vlado Vancura is the Deputy Chairman and Director of wilderness of the European Wilderness Society and is based in Liptovsky Hradok, Slovakia.

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