BEST PRACTICE EXAMPLES OF WILDERNESS MANAGEMENT IN THE NATURA 2000 NETWORK
In addition to its ecological significance, wilderness in Europe provides strong and sustainable economic, social, cultural and spiritual benefits. Being of such a high importance, its protection requires special focus on our densely populated continent. Going beyond their most crucial roles of preserving ecological values and conserving biodiversity on a continuing basis, wilderness areas not only represent a solid source for long-term research with the opportunity to learn about natural ecosystem dynamics, but also offer a great venue for visitors to gain first-hand experience about natural processes.
Natura 2000, this unique system of protected areas, offers an excellent framework for wilderness protection. Its key requirement of maintaining favourable conservation status of habitats and species is met by the objectives of wilderness conservation, which is to protect natural ecological processes. Thus, the conservation of European wilderness, as one of the most effective tools in protecting natural habitat types and species of Community interest, is an integral part of Natura 2000. The two initiatives go well together in the protection of ecological dynamics and of species dependent on these dynamics.
The 11 best practice examples of various European national parks collected in this publication describe different aspects of wilderness management in various habitat types also defined by Natura 2000 codes. Through this collection we demonstrate that wilderness management approaches and techniques such as non-intervention management may play a crucial role in the management of protected areas in Europe, and that they are applicable approaches in those areas of the Natura 2000 network, where the major objective is to protect ecosystem dynamics.
As was made obvious in one example of nearly one hundred years’ experience with nonintervention management; careful planning and a systematic approach, along with a wellconstructed compensation system, may guarantee sustainable long-term implementation of non-intervention management. Zonation, with clearly defined and steadily implemented rules for each different zone is another effective tool in wilderness management. Furthermore, establishing sound cooperation with local stakeholders and developing co-management of wilderness areas will also greatly contribute to conservation efforts. Finally, we have seen excellent examples of how strict wilderness conservation may be combined with sustainable tourism in a way that ensures the protection of fragile natural values but at the same time offers meaningful ways for humans to enjoy wilderness.
With these and many more examples, this publication is intended to serve as a useful source of information for policy makers of the European Commission and national institutions, and at the same time wishes to offer feasible non-intervention management techniques for protected area managers directly. We hope that the examples collected will encourage them to consider the application of this versatile management approach in order to enhance and strengthen wilderness protection in Europe.
As for the legal background, the current legislation and the nature conservation opportunities offered by Natura 2000 in particular provide a good basis for the conservation of Europe’s wilderness. Therefore PAN Parks Foundation does not suggest the development of new legislation on a European level. What we consider crucial, however, is to offer substantial technical guidance to Natura 2000 site managers in the implementation of wilderness protection methods.