The year of wilderness

2014 is the year when we can celebrate wilderness protection across Europe. Hopefully this year will be a milestone to improve the protection and restoration of wilderness attributes.


There are various reasons for making 2014 the year of wilderness in Europe. One of the best known wilderness areas, the Swiss National Park will turn into 100 years old in this year. This area is the first where non intervention management in the protection of natural values was put into practice.


Looking beyond Europe, the milestone US Wilderness Act turns into 50th years old in 2014! On September 3, 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Wilderness Act. This historic bill established the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) and set aside an initial 9.1 million acres of wildlands for the use and benefit of the American people. Over the past 50 years, and as a result of America’s support for wilderness, Congress has added over 100 million acres to this unique land preservation system. The 1964 Wilderness Act defines “Wilderness” as areas where the earth and its communities of life are left unchanged by people, where the primary forces of nature are in control, and where people themselves are visitors who do not remain (read more here how the Wilderness Act is commemorated in the US). 


The European Parliament approved a landmark resolution on 3 February 2009 on wilderness. This resolution, which was adopted with huge majority of the members of the EP, expressed its strong support for the strengthening of wilderness-related policies and measures. The document helped the European Commission to organise the 1st wilderness congress in Prague, which resulted in developing 24 recommendations on how to improve wilderness protection across Europe.


What will our society do in 2014? The advocacy work for the European Wilderness Convention will be put into focus. The idea of the convention emerged during the WILD10 conference and our society wants to be a front runner in lobbying for this supranational agreement. More about the convention is here!

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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