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A Future for Wilderness

Frankfurt Zoological Society is actively protecting wilderness and wildlife. By wilderness we mean large, predominantly intact areas in which natural processes take place without human interference.

Nature without us, but for us

Andean landscape, Manu, Peru
Actively protecting wilderness and wildlife.

Wilderness protection is the most selfless of conservation activities since it protects habitats solely for animals and plants that cannot defend their own rights. It also conserves options for future generations who may face challenges we cannot currently imagine. The protection of wilderness is inherently about sustainability beyond our

own lifetimes.

 
By wilderness we mean large, predominantly intact areas in which natural processes take place without human interference. Wilderness areas therefore play a fundamental role in the conservation of biodiversity. Wilderness areas represent important reference zones for our own actions. They are climate change buffers and they are particularly appealing for eco-tourism which can help generate funds for their maintenance.

Larger, the more biologically diverse, the more intact and the less influenced by people they are - the better.

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.

Ed Sayer North Luangwa Zambia (Photo: Norbert Guthier)

Our Conservation Work

Our tasks are as diverse as the project regions. For example, we support the management of protected areas for animal censuses, we support the fight against poaching and provide advice on park development. We also finance necessary equipment as well as the training of the rangers and help to involve local communities in the protection of their natural resources.

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A lizard in the Yaguas, Peru. © Daniel Rosengren

Conserving biodiversity

More than three quarters of all species live on 20 per cent of the earth surface. When time and financial resources are scarce, and when there is major conflict between use and protection, it is crucial to focus on the species-rich regions – the treasure troves of biodiversity. This is why FZS concentrates its efforts on specific ecosystems.

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