Preservation of wilderness areas in Europe


  • Zoltan Kun PAN Parks Foundation


A unique momentum has been created over the past few years for strengthening the protection of wilderness in Europe. Policy makersstarted to pay attention to the importance of truly untouched and non-managed areas and the European Parliament adopted a specialreport on wilderness in February 2009. The report was followed by the EC Presidency Conference in Prague, May 2009, on WildernessAreas. The most important outcome of this event was the approval of the ‘Agenda for Wilderness’, which eventually led to the inclusion ofwilderness in the new EU Biodiversity Strategy. This paper argues that these political successes have yet to be put into practice. Threats towilderness areas are still increasing and there have been no improvements in the management of these areas. There are emerging threats,especially from tree felling and mining, which is driven by increase in commodity prices. In order to save the last pieces of wilderness inEurope and utilize the current opportunities to restore wilderness areas, science and field conservation must develop a common WildernessResearch Agenda for Europe. The main questions are: (i) What are the ecosystem services and benefits that humans obtain for wildernessareas? (ii) What is the potential contribution of such wilderness areas for reducing biodiversity loss, halt species extinctions and supportbiodiversity restoration in Europe? (iii) What is the social perception of wilderness in different countries and across different sectors ofsociety? (iv) What should be considered wilderness in a densely populated area such as Europe?

Author Biography

Zoltan Kun, PAN Parks Foundation

Zoltan has overall responsibility for the operation of the Foundation, works on policy related issues and is also involved in fundraising activities.

Since childhood Zoltan's dream has been to work with WWF and in 1996 this became a reality when he began working with WWF Hungary as coordinator of the Gemenc Foodplain restoration project. He joined the PAN Parks Initiative in August 1997. He was appointed Executive Director in March 2002 after working with PAN Parks for five years as Conservation Manager.

He attained a forestry technician diploma at the Secondary school in Sopron, Hungary in 1990. Although the diploma was not specifically focused on conservation, it did display his interest in nature. He graduated with an MSc in landscape architecture in Hungary at the University of Horticulture and Food Industry in 1996. His final thesis was on flood-plain restoration, written in the Netherlands at the Wageningen Agriculture University in the framework of TEMPUS ICER programme.