Recently, PAN Parks and Rewilding Europe agreed to work more closely together on protecting existing wilderness as well as increasing wilderness, wild areas and wildlife numbers in Europe. Both organizations offer new solutions to improve the conservation value and cost efficiency of the EU’s flagship nature protection scheme, Natura 2000, through rewilding large areas of land, promoting wilderness and increasingly using non-intervention management approaches in many Natura 2000 areas. Letting nature be itself.
Rewilding Europe and PAN Parks share similar opinions on the meaning of ‘wilderness’: an area essentially free of human artifacts, with natural levels of wildlife, where natural systems function largely without human intervention and where people are offered a sense of freedom, emotion and experience often missing in our modern lifestyles. In addition, there are large areas that have the potential to become much wilder, in particular within the Natura 2000 system. All sites where PAN Parks and Rewilding Europe are currently at work show a substantive overlap with Natura 2000 designated areas.
PAN Parks aim to safeguard 1 million hectares of European wilderness by 2015. The network currently contains 13 Certified PAN Parks and a number of smaller areas – Wilderness Partners – throughout Europe, covers more than 560,000 hectares.
PAN Parks is focusing on developing, protecting and promoting areas which represent a rare remaining state of recognizable wilderness across Europe. This effort should help ensure that Europeans protect their intact wilderness areas so they remain free from the footprint of human development and interference. These wilderness areas provide refuge for a diversity of species, and are unique reference laboratories where the natural evolutionary process still continues. They promote self-sustaining ecosystems through maintaining natural processes and biodiversity for the future, and are key to minimising the impact of climate change on our planet.
Rewilding Europe aims to rewild at least 1 million hectares in Europe by 2020, spread over 10 areas. In five areas this work has already begun and another group of five are presently being assessed for inclusion. Each of these ten areas potentially covers some 100,000 hectares of core wilderness areas and surrounding wild lands. Rewilding Europe is also creating a network of many dozens of smaller rewilding areas all across the continent. Rewilding Europe has set its sights on large-scale redevelopment of wild and natural lands, in combination with existing protected areas, aiming to unleash partially suppressed natural processes, reintroducing missing key species, restoring ecosystem functions, boosting the numbers of wildlife, and helping to incubate and finance enterprises which support this vision. All in order to help provide new opportunities for people to earn a living from these wild, natural values.
Both organisations see their roles as complimentary and will continue to explore opportunities and closer cooperation within the overall ambition as described above.