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European Wilderness Network

The European Wilderness Network representing Europe’s last Wilderness, was founded in 2014 and has grown to now 40 members in 17 Countries with more than 350 000 ha of audited Wilderness. This network represents the best Wilderness all across Europe and continues to expand every year. The main aim of the European Wilderness Network is a unified approach to Wilderness Stewardship and the representation of Wilderness and its challenges internationally and within the European Union. 

All Wilderness, WILDCoasts, WILDForests, WILDIslands, and WILDRivers, in the European Wilderness Network are unique and represent the best and wildest places in Europe. They cover a multitude of different habitats, all governed by natural processes and non-intervention stewardship techniques, following the same principles of the European Wilderness Quality Standard and Audit System.

The European Wilderness Network categories

  • Wilderness – Wilderness with a mixed habitat and a minimum Wilderness zone size of 1000 ha
  • WILDCoast – Wilderness combining terrestrial, coastal and marine habitat and a minimum Wilderness zone size of 500 ha
  • WILDForest – Wilderness with a predominant forest habitat and a minimum size of 50 ha
  • WILDIsland – Island with a terrestrial, coastal and surrounding marine habitat and no minimum Wilderness zone size
  • WILDRiver – River and riverbank habitat with a minimum length of 2 km

Size is an important factor for the categories of the European Wilderness Network. The issue of sufficient size must be considered with reference to the surrounding landscape, as the quality of the surrounding landscape determines the ecological connectivity and the functioning of the ecosystems in the Wilderness zone. The surrounding landscape also influences how the visitors experience the area.

Wilderness Quality Labels

There are four labels for Wilderness quality. Depending on a number of factors (size, stewardship, research, etc.) the Wilderness are labelled with a bronze, silver, gold or platinum Wilderness Quality certificate. Areas with platinum or gold labels are regarded as Wilderness, while those of bronze or silver are wild areas. A wild area can evolve into a Wilderness over a long term restoration process, as also considered in the Wilderness continuum (Rob Nash, 1985). For general communication purposes and easy understanding, the European Wilderness Society applies the term Wilderness for all categories and irrespective of the actual label. Each area is visited regularly by the European Wilderness Society, either to monitor or support the management of these areas.

The benefits of the European Wilderness Network

Marketing Support

The European Wilderness Society is providing the European Wilderness Network Partner with an elaborate international communication and marketing strategy during the entire partnership free of charge. The Network Partner will benefit by receiving not only marketing material to be used in their day to day activities for free, but also be listed in the official search engine optimised European Wilderness Network Website, Each Network Partner has its own page on this website, including information on the specific Wilderness, pictures, sustainable tourism information and contact information.

European Wilderness Network marketing toolbox

The European Wilderness Society supports the Network Partner by providing the European Wilderness Network Welcome Package, containing: European Wilderness Quality Audit Guide, European Wilderness Network Flag, European Wilderness Network Door sign, European Wilderness Network Newsletter, European Wilderness Society Journal, and European Wilderness Society marketing material.

European Wilderness Exchange Programme

The European Wilderness Exchange Programme offers selected representatives of the European Wilderness Network to visit other Wilderness of the Network to exchange personal experience, professional know-how and to expand the personal Wilderness networks. This also includes the International Fellowship Programme to visit partners outside of Europe, i.e. USA or Canada.

European Wilderness Academy

European Wilderness Network Partner receives free VIP tickets to attend the European Wilderness Academy Days, all of the Online Training courses offered by the Vlado Vancura Training academy.

Literature and Publications

Access to the European Wilderness Network Library, consisting of hundreds of documents on international Wilderness, exclusively available for Network Partners and constantly updated with new literature by the European Wilderness Society, including the European Wilderness Journal, Annual Report, Logging Report Romania, WILD5 in French, Spanish, Italian, Ukrainian, German and English, the European Wilderness Quality Standard or European Wilderness Standard Quick- and Full-Audit reports free of charge.

Sustainable Tourism and Wilderness

The sustainable tourism experts of the European Wilderness Society are working closely with Ecological Tourism Europe, to develop new innovative sustainable tourism concepts and projects to be made available to the partners of the European Wilderness Network. The European Wilderness Society assists Network Partners in the development and implementation of sustainable tourism strategies and regional developments initiatives.

Personal visits

Personal visits free of charge from the European Wilderness Society management and Wilderness team. During these visits of the European Wilderness Society will support the partner in identifying the Wilderness strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, using the standards of the European Wilderness Quality Standard Audit System. Should shortcomings be found, the European Wilderness Society will develop conjointly with the Network Partner an action plan with workshops and meetings to help and overcome these shortcomings.

Project developments and partnerships

European Wilderness Network Partners have the opportunity to become an official project partner in one of the many Wilderness projects of the European Wilderness Society. Also, it is possible to jointly development new projects in support of the Network Partner and Wilderness concept internationally.

Wilderness Research partners

Inclusion to an exclusive list of preferred locations for Wilderness research for international BSc and MSc students. Also the European Wilderness Network partners have the opportunity to join international wilderness research programmes.

Access to Dropbox

All European Wilderness Network partners get access to the European Wilderness Society Dropbox, containing all relevant documents, logos and examples that will support the European Wilderness Network Partner.