Kongura Wilderness Candidate
The Kongura Strict Nature Reserve was created in 1988 and is embedded into the Belasitsa Nature Park. The Reserve is situated in the Belasitsa Mountains, about 45 km south of Blagoevgrad and is one of the most biodiverse area in Bulgaria.
Kongura Strict Nature Reserve protects an extensive area of old beech and sweet chestnut forests. In the past, the tree line was reduced by grazing and logging. However, due to the absence of these activities in the last years, the tree line is in the process of spontaneous restoration.
The territory is exclusive state property and is managed and protected by the Ministry of Environment and Water, through its Regional Inspectorate in Blagoevgrad.
The 450 ha Kongura Wilderness was subject to pre-Audit in autumn 2019 and meets the Bronze Wilderness Quality Standard. After finalising the Quick-Audit, there is a large potential to expand Kongura Wilderness to the size of approx. 1 300 ha and increase its Wilderness Quality Standard.
Biodiversity in the Kongura Wilderness is very large and unique. Most of the identified biotopes represent a unique example of the wild and spontaneously developing ecosystems. Within the territory of Kongura Wilderness, the forest is covering over 97% of the area and the rest are shrubs and small meadows in the vicinity of the tree line. The most dominant tree is the beech. The chestnut is found in the lower parts, below the beech belt. Shrub and grass ecosystems are predominantly located on the outskirts and higher parts, and are dominated by juniper, hawthorn and rose hip.
About 1 500 plant species have been found in this area, including endemic species of Bulgaria and the Balkans, and a number of species are also listed on IUCN Red List. The area is home to Albanian lily, karst lucerne and many others. The area is also rich in fauna and more that 130 species of birds have been identified in these biomes. The area also hosts wolf, fox and wild cat. Other common mammals are roe deer, wild boar and badger.
From a touristic point of view, the borders of the Wilderness can be explored on foot following several marked trails. These trails offer a variety of interesting activities such as hiking, wildlife watching, rare plants sightings and also exploration of unique rock formations.
The easiest access to Kongura Wilderness is to follow the forest road/trail along the western boundary. This option offers the opportunity to stay in one of mountain chalets Belasitsa or Kongur. In the recent years, the interest in mountain biking is increasing due to the good network of forest roads. Surrounding the Wilderness, there are opportunities to stay in villages, where local eco-tourism activities are quickly developing.
Ali Botush Wilderness Candidate
The Ali Botush Strict Nature Reserve was created in 1951 in the remote Slavyanka mountain range close to the Greek border. The aim was to protect the largest forests of Bosnian pine in the Balkan Peninsula. Ali Botush Strict Nature Reserve lies in a karstic area at altitudes between 1 140 and 2 212 m. The area is purely a forest reserve and the alpine zone, which has been intensively used in the past, is excluded. Because of this, the south border mainly follows the line between the mountain forest and alpine pastures.
For approx. the last 20 years the area is mostly abandoned and large areas without any signs of grazing provide a great example of spontaneous tree line restoration. This creates an opportunity for potential enlargement and creation of transboundary Wilderness in cooperation with Greece.
The 1 050 ha Ali Botush Wilderness was subject to a Pre-Audit in autumn 2019 and meets the Bronze Wilderness Quality Standard. After finalising the Quick-Audit, there is a large potential to expand Ali Botush Wilderness to the size of approx. 1 638 ha and increase its Wilderness Quality Standard.
Over the last several decades, Ali Botush Wilderness has been protecting a wide spectrum of mountain forest habitats and very rich flora and fauna. A wide variety of habitats are present along an elevation gradient.
The area contains plant species that are found both in Mediterranean evergreen forest biome and simultaneously also in temperate forest biome.
At the lowest elevation, forests are dominated by beech, hornbeam and sweet chestnut. Higher up, there is a coniferous belt with species like black pine and Bulgarian fir, as well as Bosnian pine which is climbing high up to the current tree line.
The area is home to over 1 500 vascular plants and more than 20 Bulgarian endemics species. The area provides a safe refuge for a number of larger mammals such as brown bear, wolf, chamois, roe deer, badger and golden jackal.
Ali Botush Wilderness is located in the remote roadless corner of Slavyanka mountain range. From a touristic point of view, only a part of the Wilderness can be explored on foot following two marked hiking trails leading to the remote and otherwise inaccessible mountains. After passing the Wilderness and reaching the tree line, the trails offer extraordinary panoramic view to the Wilderness and surrounding mountains particularly along the Bulgarian-Greek border. The trails offer a variety of interesting activities like hiking, wildlife watching, rare plants sightings and first and foremost exploration of a unique Bosnian pine forest. Also, there is a good system of information boards at the trailhead offering maps and basic information.
The Archipelago WILDCoast is located at the edge of open Baltic Sea. It is a unique example of a large contiguous marine WILDCoast without any extractive use already for several decades. The WILDCoast is closed for visitors (no-go zone).
Velino Wilderness Candidate
Velino Wilderness joined the European Wilderness Network in 2018. It is embedded into the Sirente Velino Natural Park, Italy, which is situated in the Abruzzo Region of Central Italy. Velino Wilderness contains Apennine beech forests with alpine and subalpine calcareous grasslands, and several endemic plant species.
The 1 450 ha Darvaika Wilderness is embedded in Synevyr National Nature Park, Ukraine. The Darvaika Wilderness is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site – Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe. The Wilderness represents an example of undisturbed old-growth mixed forests (beech, maple, fir, spruce and remnants of mugo pine), and provides a safe refuge for populations of all Carpathian carnivores such as brown bear, wolf, wildcat and lynx.
Maramarosh Wilderness represents an outstanding example of undisturbed old-growth mixed forest (beech, fir and spruce) and rare fragments of subalpine and alpine habitats (tree line with mugo pine, alder and rhododendron), which are characteristic for the natural state of the Carpathian mountain landscapes. It is an area of great international importance and a local hotspot for biodiversity, which is dependent on spontaneous natural processes and ecosystem dynamics.
Chornyy Dil Wilderness
Chornyy Dil Wilderness is embedded in the Synevyr National Nature Park, Ukraine. Chornyy Dil Wilderness preserves large areas of unique old-growth broadleaf and conifer forest and a natural state of the Carpathian mountain landscapes. The Synevyr National Nature Park has good potential to expand Chornyy Dil Wilderness, which is an area with no roads and is without any management intervention.
The Thaya WILDRiver is a segment of the Thaya river and spans a length of over 2 kilometres, linking the Thayatal WILDForest and the Podyjí Wilderness. The Thaya WILDRiver is characterised by extraordinary scenery, being home to features such as meanders and alluvial plains around the river Thaya.
The Thayatal WILDForest is characterised by extraordinary scenery, being home to features such as rocky amphitheatres, cliffs and broadleaf mixed forest. The Thayatal WILDForest is and has been the key element and driving force behind the establishment of the transboundary Wilderness of the Podyjí National Park in Czech Republic and Thayatal National Park in Austria.
The Fulufjället Wilderness is embedded in Fulufjället National Park, Sweden. Located at the border with Norway, Fulufjället Wilderness is a virtually untouched Scandinavian nature area. Fulufjället Wilderness is named after the mountain Fulufjället, which is 1 044 m high. It covers the Swedish part of the Fulufjället massif, which is the southernmost part of the Scandes in Sweden. The Norwegian part of the massif is protected by Norway’s Fulufjellet National Park.
The Teiču Wilderness is embedded into the Teiču Strict Nature Reserve. Teiču Reserve is the largest nature reserve in Latvia and it is one of the largest areas of intact bog moss in the Baltic. Teiču Wilderness protects a large complex, representing valuable ecosystems of wetlands and forest. Teiču Wilderness is one of four strict nature reserves in Latvia and is well known due to the high species diversity.
Uholka-Shyrokyy Luh Wilderness
The Uholka-Shyrokyy Luh Wilderness is part of the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve. The area preserves the largest area of unique old-growth beech forest of Europe and the natural state of the Carpathian mountain landscapes. Uholka-Shyrokyy Luh Wilderness represents an outstanding example of undisturbed temperate beech forests and provides a sample of the pure stands of European beech.
Velyka Uholka WILDRiver
The Velyka Uholka WILDRiver is embedded in the Uholka-Shyrokyy Luh Wilderness, Ukraine. The Velyka Uholka WILDRiver, together with the small tributary Yavoronskyy Stream, is a typical mountain river with the extraordinary scenery and is surrounded by undisturbed temperate beech forests.
The Podyjí Wilderness is embedded in the Podyjí National Park, Czech Republic. It is the smallest National Park in the Czech Republic and located in the south-eastern part of the country, at the border with Thayatal National Park in Austria. Podyjí National Park has a good potential for expansion of Wilderness. A significant part of the Podyjí National Park is covered with forests and considerable percentage is currently left to spontaneous development.
The Olanga WILDRiver is embedded in the Paanajärvi Wilderness and in Paanajärvi National Park, Russia. The Olanga WILDRiver is characterized by an extraordinary scenery, with the well-known Kivakkakoski rapids. There are altogether 13 rapids on the river from lake Paanajärvi to Pyaozero lake. The Olanga WILDRiver is the key element and driving force behind the establishment of the Paanajärvi National Park and later on the transboundary protected area: the Paanajärvi National Park in Russia and Oulanka National Park in Finland.
The Oulanka WILDRiver spans over a length of 26 kilometres and is embedded in the Oulanka Wilderness and in Oulanka National Park, Finland. The Oulanka WILDRiver is characterized by an extraordinary scenery, being home to features such as spruced flood-lands, pine stands growing on sandy soil and hills covered by dwarfed tundra vegetation.
Mala Uholka WILDRiver
The Mala Uholka WILDRiver spans over a length of 7 kilometres and is embedded in the Uholka-Shyrokyy Luh Wilderness, Ukraine. The Mala Uholka WILDRiver, together with the small tributaries Buchmonskyy Stream and Plosnyy Stream, is a mountain river with the typical extraordinary scenery and is surrounded by undisturbed temperate beech forests.
The Kitka WILDRiver is embedded in the Oulanka Wilderness and in Oulanka National Park, Finland. The Kitka WILDRiver is characterized by extraordinary scenery, being home to features such as spruced flood-lands, pine stands growing on sandy soil and past hills covered by dwarfed tundra vegetation.
The Gorgany Wilderness is part of the Gorgany Nature Reserve. This area preserves the natural state of the Carpathian mountain landscapes, typical natural complexes, unique primeval beech forests, and in particular forest with Swiss pine (Pinus cembra).
Shyrokyy Luh WILDRiver
The Shyrokyy Luh WILDRiver is embedded in the Uholka-Shyrokyy Luh Wilderness, Ukraine. The Shyrokyy Luh WILDRiver, together with the tributary Tarsovskyy Stream, Polonskyy Stream and Bradul Stream, is a mountain river with an extraordinary scenery and is surrounded by undisturbed temperate beech forests.
The 5,251 ha Kalkalpen WILDForest consists of four areas (Hintergebirge, Bodinggraben, Urlach, Wilder Graben) with highly valuable beech forests that are embedded within the boundaries of the Kalkalpen Wilderness. The Kalkalpen WILDForest is a hotspot for biodiversity, depending on spontaneous natural processes and ecosystem dynamics and is an important reference area for comparisons with managed forest.
The Hoverla Wilderness is part of Carpathian National Nature Park. The area preserves the natural state of the Carpathian mountain landscapes and large complexes of unique mixed and conifer forests with presence of the large carnivores (bear, wolf and lynx). Carpathian National Nature Park includes 3 large Wilderness, which qualify to become a member of European Wilderness Network: Hoverla Wilderness, Pip Ivan Wilderness and Siniak Wilderness.
Zacharovanyy kray WILDForest
The Zacharovanyy kray WILDForest is partially embedded in the Zacharovanyy kray Wilderness and in Zacharovanyy kray National Nature Park, Ukraine. Zacharovanyy kray WILDForest preserves the natural state of the beech forest in the central part of the Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains. Zacharovanyy kray WILDForest is committed to protect self-regulated natural processes, and has been for several years.
Zacharovanyy kray Wilderness
The Zacharovanyy kray Wilderness is embedded in the Zacharovanyy kray National Nature Park, Ukraine. Ukraine contains excellent examples of Wilderness. Zacharovanyy kray Wilderness preserves the natural state of the beech forest in the central part of the Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains and is committed to protect self-regulated natural processes for several years.
The 162 ha Vilm WILDIsland is part of South East Rügen Biosphere Reserve, Germany. Vilm WILDIsland is covered by old broadleaf forests with small lagoons, sandy beaches and attractive coastal features. Since 1990 it is part of the core zones of the South East Rügen Biosphere Reserve. The ancient forests on Vilm WILDIsland have never been managed by forestry. The strictly protected WILDIsland Vilm with a non-intervention management has developed in natural succession for many decades.
The Uholka-Shyrokyy Luh WILDForest is embedded in the Uholka-Shyrokyy Luh Wilderness and in Carpathian Biosphere Reserve. The Uholka-Shyrokyy Luh WILDForest is an hotspot for biodiversity, depending on spontaneous natural processes and ecosystem dynamics. The old-growth forests of Uholka-Shyrokyy Luh WILDForest is an important reference area for comparisons with managed forest. Europe.
The Soomaa Wilderness is embedded into the Soomaa National Park, located in the south-eastern corner of Estonia. Soomaa Wilderness consist of four large peat-bogs: Kuresoo, Valgeraba, Ordi and Kikerpera. The bogs are separated from each other by the Pärnu, Halliste, Navesti, Raudna, Lemmjõgi, and Kõpu rivers. Alongside these rivers, floodplain meadows and floodplain forests occur.
The Rila Wilderness is embedded in the Rila National Park, the largest national park in Bulgaria. The park is located in the south-western part of the country. Rila Wilderness is one of the largest and most valuable Wilderness areas in Europe. It includes four large Wilderness areas – Parangalica, Central Rila Reserve, Ibar and Skakavitsa. Rila Wilderness covers a large part of the Rila mountain range with high peaks, deep valleys, forests and mountain pastures.
The Retezat Wilderness is embedded in the Retezat National Park, the oldest national park in Romania. The Retezat Wilderness protects one of the last remaining pristine part of Carpathian Mountains and is also an important model to protect Wilderness all over the Carpathians. It was first audited in 2004. This Retezat Wilderness is protecting an intact primeval forest and landscape modelling by glaciers in the past.
The Dyje WILDRiver is embedded in the Podyjí Wilderness. The Podyjí Wilderness is part of the Podyjí National Park, Czech Republic and is characterised by extraordinary scenery, being home to features such as rocky amphitheatres, cliffs, meanders or alluvial plains around the river.
The Peneda-Gerês Wilderness is embedded into the Peneda-Gerês National Park, Portugal. The Peneda-Gerês National Park was created in 1971 due to its national and international scientific values, with the aim to protect the existing human and natural resources. Since its establishment, it has been acknowledged as the wildest area of Portugal.
The Paanajärvi Wilderness is embedded in the Paanajärvi National Park, Russia. Paanajärvi Wilderness is located right at the Arctic Circle and preserves the representative examples of natural values of the whole Karelia region, at the Finnish–Russian border. The boreal forests with lakes reach into far horizons with no sign of human presence, any roads or towns. The Paanajärvi Wilderness and Olanga WILDRiver create a great example of pristine and remote Wilderness.
The 12 924 ha Oulanka Wilderness is embedded in the Oulanka National Park, Finland. The Oulanka National Park is located close to the Arctic Circle at the border with Russia. The park is traversed by two large rivers flowing east, the Rivers Oulankajoki and Kitkajoki with several tributaries, such as the Rivers Maaninkajoki and Savinajoki. Oulanka Wilderness is separated in three sections by the management, which are not ecologically fragmented: Border Zone (2 200 ha), Main Section (10 724 ha), and Sukerijärvi (2 103 ha).
Oulanka Wilderness is located in a Reindeer Husbandry Area. The traditional Finnish concept of everyman’s right and reindeer husbandry significantly impacted the identification of the Wilderness in Oulanka National Park. The everyman’s right concept allows free right of access to the land and waterways, and the right to collect natural products such as wild berries and mushrooms, no matter who owns the land. These rights also generally apply to foreign citizens. The overall frame of everyman’s right is that all actions must be harmless to nature and landowner. In 2007, the Oulanka Wilderness Program identified the Oulanka Wilderness, fitting to the European Wilderness Quality Standard and guaranteed an ecological link with Paanajärvi Wilderness at the Russian side of border.
The 12 924 ha Oulanka Wilderness was audited and monitored in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2012 and meets the Platinum Wilderness Quality Standard. A European Wilderness Quality Standard Renewal-Audit is scheduled for 2022.
Oulanka is full of versatile and demanding plant species and partly due to calcium-rich bedrock there are many rare species. The difference in temperature between the high rising fells and low river valleys make an ideal environment for several rare plants like the park’s emblem: the calypso. Another threatened plant, but common in this area is silene or lady’s-slipper. In Oulanka’s meadows, you may catch a glimpse of the endangered Copper Violet Butterfly. Riverbeds and alluvial meadows are home to rare butterflies and 100 bird species nest in the park. Rare birds like the Siberian Jay and the Capercaillie also take refuge in these herb-rich forests. The area hosts several large herbivores like the moose and the half-tame reindeer. Smaller mammals are also typical in the area. Of the large carnivores, the bear inhabits Oulanka National Park. The wolf, wolverine and lynx, however, are quite rare. In the Wilderness, the golden eagle and the white-tailed eagle are common.
Attractions that offer unforgettable experiences in unspoilt Oulanka Wilderness play a vital role in the context of increases in nature tourism, summer tourism, and the importance of European Wilderness. Discover the boreal forests alone or with a group and find yourself amazed by it pure beauty. The Russian frontier runs along the eastern edge of Oulanka National Park, and just over the border lies the Russia’s Paanajärvi National Park, representing huge potential for cross-border nature tourism. Oulanka National Park already collaborates closely with its twin park Paanajärvi.
Address street: Oulangan luontokeskus, Liikasenvaarantie 132
Postal code city: 93900, Kuusamo, Finland
Phone: +358 206 39 6850
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The Majella Wilderness is embedded into the Majella National Park, Italy. The Majella Wilderness is home to an amazingly large and rich Wilderness. It is including the most inaccessible and wildest areas of the Central Apennine.
The Kuziy-Trybushany WILDForest is embedded in the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve, located in western Ukraine. The Carpathian Biosphere Reserve includes several large WILDForests. The Kuziy-Trybushany WILDForest is a hotspot for biodiversity, depending on spontaneous natural processes and ecosystem dynamics. The old-growth forests of Kuziy-Trybushany WILDForest is an important reference area for comparisons with managed forests.
The Küre Wilderness is embedded in the Küre Mountains National Park, located in northern Turkey. The park stretches over the mountain range of Küre Mountains and is extend over the Kastamonu and Bartin Province. The Küre Wilderness is well-known in Turkey because of its intact forests, wildlife, endemic plant species, caves, canyons, and waterfalls. The Küre Wilderness is also globally important for nature conservation. It is one of the 9 forest hot spots in Turkey with its natural values, Wilderness, geological features, landscape and cultural values.
Königsbrücker Heide Wilderness
The Königsbrücker Heide Wilderness is a large coherent nature conservation area, which provides good conditions for a re-naturalization of previous military training grounds with a potential to become a prime Wilderness in Germany. The Königsbrücker Heide Wilderness has not actively been managed for more than 15 years. It provides a unique experience of natural spontaneous dynamics and implementation of non-intervention management.
The Kalkalpen Wilderness is embedded in the Kalkalpen National Park, Austria. Kalkalpen National Park is a large protected area, located in the north-eastern Limestone Alps in Upper Austria. Kalkalpen Wilderness features the largest forest region in central Europe and the largest karst in Austria. It is a colourful mosaic consisting of pristine forests, hidden gorges and untouched mountain streams.
The Jasmund WILDCoast is embedded into the core zone of Jasmund National Park, Germany. Jasmund National Park is an iconic national park in Germany due to its magnificent scenery of the stunning coastline. The Jasmund WILDCoast is a compact and complete ecosystem of chalk cliffs, a sea coast, and a narrow strip of sea. “Let nature be nature” is the main slogan of Jasmund National Park.
Hohe Tauern Wilderness
The Hohe Tauern Wilderness is located in the south-western part of National Park Hohe Tauern, Austria. The Hohe Tauern Wilderness is a landscape as it used to be all over the Alps after the last ice age, about 12,000 years ago. It is a large contiguous piece of Wilderness and it includes several important habitats types, such as abandoned alpine pastures, bare rocks, glaciers and freshly exposed land after glacier retreat.
The Hainich WILDForest is embedded into the Hainich National Park, Germany. The Hainich National Park was founded in 1997. Over 90% of Hainich National Park is not in economic use, where nature is returning to its roots. In contrast to economic forests, the woodland in Hainich WILDForest may develop back, untouched, into a primeval woodland in the heart of Germany.
The Čepkeliai Wilderness is embedded in the Dzūkija National Park and Čepkeliai Strict Nature Reserve, Lithuania. Čepkeliai Wilderness is the largest contiguous piece of Wilderness in Lithuania consisting of two areas: Čepkeliai and Musteika Strict Nature Reserves. It is located in the south-eastern corner of Lithuania and forms one ecological complex, representing the most valuable ecosystems of wetlands and surrounding forests, at the border with Belarus.
The Borjomi-Kharagauli Wilderness is embedded in the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park, Georgia. It is a extensive mountain area of Lesser Caucasus with conifer and evergreen old-growth forest, high number of rare and endemic species such as bear, wolf, imperial eagle. The Wilderness provides a wide spectrum of unique and dynamic ecosystems.
Central Balkan Wilderness
The 20,019 ha Central Balkan Wilderness is embedded in the Central Balkan National Park, Bulgaria. Central Balkan Wilderness is covering 28% of park territory and consist of the following 9 strict nature reserves: Boatin, Tsarichina, Kozya Stena, Steneto, Severen Dzendem, Peesti, Sokolna, Dzendema and Stara Reka. In Central Balkan Wilderness, a non-intervention management is applied as the underlying principle for Wilderness stewardship.