The FZS approach to conservation

The passion for wildlife and wilderness is uniting our committed and professional FZS teams around the world. Our experience of practical conservation work in the different conservation areas and our practical approach are key aspects of our success. We enter into a long-term commitment in all our projects because conservation takes time and patience.

We carry out a large proportion of our projects and programmes using our own staff, but we also support many partner organisations in the respective countries. However, the success of the conservation work in a particular region depends to a great extent on our local partners, the national park authorities or conservation area administrations. Good collaboration is based on trust and partnership and is therefore the central element of our conservation work in all our project countries.

What exactly do we do?



The conservation focus of our projects is on protecting the wilderness areas and preserving biodiversity. All FZS projects and programmes are oriented towards these two goals. 

The FZS is active in biodiversity-rich areas

More than three quarters of all species are concentrated in 20 percent of the Earth's surface. The Tropical zone is pivotal here. When time and financial resources are scarce and when the conflict between use and protection takes a serious turn for the worst, it is crucial to concentrate on the species-rich regions - on the treasure troves.


FZS commitment in biologically diverse regions


The FZS is active in biodiversity-rich areas in central and eastern Europe, in east Africa, in central South America and in south-east Asia. In terms of habitats the main focus is on the great savanna, forest, wetland and mountain areas. In Europe FZS has greatly narrowed its programme. The main emphasis here is on wilderness development in Germany and the conservation of virgin habitats in the Balkan states, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.


The FZS project countries in east Africa are Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. Further new projects are to be developed in South America besides the large programme in Peru and an involvement in Guyana which is currently being set up. Nowhere else are there such large, unspoilt and biologically diverse habitats.


Andean landscape, Manu, Peru
FZS is a vocal supporter of wilderness areas

FZS is a vocal supporter of wilderness areas. By wilderness we mean large, predominantly intact areas in which the natural processes take place without human interference. Wilderness areas are therefore a fundamental factor in the preservation of biodiversity which of course includes the protection of entire ecosystems. Wilderness areas represent important reference zones for our own actions. They are climate change buffers and they are particularly appealing for suitable types of eco-tourism which can help generate funds for their maintenance.


Wilderness therefore means: nature without us, but for us. Wilderness conservation is the most selfless and charitable side of conservation. Wilderness provides habitats for animals and plants which cannot defend their own rights. It also offers our successors options for taking action. Anyone devoting themselves to protecting wilderness is putting sustainability at the heart of their actions.


The wilderness approach of the FZS projects


Wildernesses should be as large as possible. In heavily populated Germany there are few wildernesses and any areas exceeding 1,000 hectares represent an attractive proposition, whereas in Asia the areas in question are between 10,000 and 100,000 hectares in size. In South America and Africa the scale is considerably larger, with highly attractive areas measuring more than half a million hectares. There are similar gradations in the natural status: in central Europe, wilderness development areas such as former military exercise zones may even be of interest, whereas in other regions natural landscapes which are still largely intact are the main focus. Wildernesses should be as free as possible of the effects of human activity. But there are scarcely any such areas left. And so settlement density and human influence need to be assessed. Uncontacted forest Indians in the Peruvian national parks have no negative effect on biodiversity or the wilderness - they are a part of it. Yet Ethiopian farmers with their large herds of cattle in the sensitive national parks of the Afroalpine zone do have an impact.


As with wilderness development, it is important to assess the prospects of the conservation areas. Are there any prospects of the people leaving the conservation areas voluntarily and finding better suited living conditions elsewhere?


The basic formula for assessing such project areas is simple: the larger, the more biologically diverse, the more intact and the less influenced by people they are - the better.