Walk for the Wild
1. Who represents Wilderness International?
The team behind WI Germany consists of 25 founding members, nine members of the council, three board members, our office team, many volunteers and numerous donors, sponsors and supporters. On the Canadian side, David MacDonald manages the land purchases on the ground. Ellen Weiland and Kai Andersch represent the interests of WI Germany. Here too, many volunteers, donors and sponsors support our mission. You can find more information under “What does Wilderness International (Canada) do?”
Wilderness International Peru has a council consisting of the eight founding members. In Peru, Chris Kirkby looks after our conservation areas and searches for potential new conservation sites.
More information about the organization of Wilderness International can be found here.
2. What makes Wilderness International different from other NGOs?
Wilderness International is unique in that it pursues a concept of direct wilderness protection. We buy ecologically valuable wilderness areas in Canada and Peru, which are then entered in the land registry. Thus, the maximum durable legal protection is secured. The purchases are financed through donations, which we call Wilderness Sponsorships. Wilderness sponsors can choose the areas they wish to protect and receive the exact geo-coordinates of the area protected. Therefore, is possible to determine the exact location of this area and to track the use of the donation. On our expeditions for example, the participating students are then able to find, look at and research the areas of land their schools have protected. An efficient organizational structure and foundation management as well as the support of many volunteers help us to keep administrative costs to about 10% of donations. That means the majority of your donation goes directly towards projects in wilderness conservation. Wilderness International’s engagement is based upon ecological purpose and urgency as well as increasing global networking. On a global scale, we protect wilderness where it still exists. Locally, we concentrate on environmental education and re-naturalization. We want to motivate, inspire and empower students to protect nature through the Walk for the Wild. We also carry out local environmental projects with our participating schools. The many-faceted expertise and backgrounds of our active members ensure that we have a multidisciplinary approach. Through cooperations with various scientific partners such as, for example, the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ), the Senckenberg Nature Research Society, the Technical University Dresden, the Johannes-Gutenberg-University Mainz, the Bamfield Marine Science Center and Fauna Forever we are able to guarantee the quality of our work.
3. What does Wilderness International (Canada) do?
In Canada, we are legally represented by our sister foundation Wilderness International (Canada). On the ground, David MacDonald, Director of Wilderness International (Canada), coordinates the purchase of land. Ellen Weiland und Kai Andersch complete the team. In addition, there are also many volunteers, donors and sponsors who support our mission, for example in projects with First Nations. This is how we have been able to carry out a Walk for the Wild in the Cowichan Valley, or example. You can read more about it in these news articles:
- Cowichan Students Walk for the Wild
- Cowichan Valley Citizen
In addition, Wilderness International (Canada) played a key role in the ”Protect the Peel“ project together with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Yukon (CPAWS) and the Gwich’in. More information is in this trailer and in these articles:
- Yukon News 2008
- Yukon News 2017
- CBC News 2017
- News/North 2017
- Tusaayaksat 2007
4. From whom does Wilderness International purchase the land?
Wilderness International has purchased land from logging companies, private individuals and mining speculators so far.
5. How does Wilderness International secure the permanent protection of all the areas?
Wilderness International is registered as the owner in the land registry. You can find two examples of land registry entries here.
The construct of the foundation prevents any individual from taking ownership of the land themselves. The foundation and its land belong to the people currently working with the foundation at that particular point in time. Our statute states that the pieces of land are to remain untouched and are only visited and used for research and documentation purposes.
Legal certainty and control
The principle of legal certainty in Canada ensures that the destruction of land would be followed by strong sanctions. The British Columbia Trespass Act forbids trespassing on private land. Violations will be prosecuted, even if there was no damage done. A fence, natural borders or signs should be visible. Therefore, our land was marked with signs this year. In addition, our protected areas are very remote and can only be reached with large financial and material costs, a great deal of time and not without significant risk. We also check on the areas regularly when we visit them for research trips.
Whenever we buy a piece of land, we pay in advance. Your donation refinances the purchase. Thus, we can make sure that your donation really does protect the piece of land that you have chosen.
6. How much land has Wilderness International already purchased?
To date, we have purchased and therefore permanently protected six tracts of land with a total area of 391 hectares (966 acres). This is about the size of 548 soccer fields or 3.91 million square meters of protected forests. Of this, 270 hectares have already been refinanced through wilderness sponsorships.
7. Where exactly are the protected areas located?
Three of our six conservation areas are located on Porcher Island: the Land of the Eagles, the Land of the Wolves, and the Land of the Land of the River Otter. This is an island on the northwestern coast of Canada, about 40 km (25 miles) south of the city of Prince Rupert. The nature preserve ”Gitxaala Nii Luutiksm/Kitkala Conservancy“ was expanded through the protection of these pieces of land. The other four areas, the Land of the Grizzlies, the Land of the Ghost Flowers, the Land of the Wapitis and Land of the Hummingbirds are located in the Toba Valley. This river valley lies about 160km north of Vancouver, on the coast of the mainland, across from Campbell River on Vancouver Island.
8. What are the rights of disposal for these purchased areas?
The conservation areas are purchased by Wilderness International and our sister foundation Wilderness International (Canada), and in Peru also by Wilderness International Peru. All three organizations are documented in the land registry. Thus, all property rights lie with Wilderness International. Our statute declares that the pieces of land must remain untouched and undeveloped, and may only be visited for reasons of research and documentation. Our foundation construct forbids any individual from owning the property outright. Instead, the foundation and the land are owned by all people currently engaged in the foundation at that particular moment in time.
9. How does Wilderness International choose areas for protection?
Together with our experts and scientific partners such as the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ), the Senckenberg Nature Research Society, and the Bamfield Marine Science Center, we choose the pieces of land according to their specific and unique requirement of special protection. Crucial to this assessment are factors such as biodiversity, biomass and acute threat.
10. Isn’t Wilderness International just a drop in the ocean?
Many years ago, somewhere on the west coast of Canada, a young man went for a walk on the beach after a big storm. Thousands of starfish had been flooded onto the shore and it would be weeks if not months until the waves were high enough to carry them back into the sea again. “All of these beautiful starfish will dry up in the hot sun,“ thought the young man sadly, “and there is nothing I can do.” Then, in the distance he saw an old man who carried a starfish back into the water. And another one and another one. “What a useless endeavor,“ the young man thought. “There are thousands of starfish here who will meet their deaths.“ So he went to the old man and asked him: “Why are you doing this? It won’t make a difference!“ The old man bent over, picked up a beautiful red starfish and showed it to the young man: “Yes. For this one, it does make a difference.” And with these words, he walked to the ocean once again.
This legend expresses our conviction that every single action to protect the environment, every protected square meter, every single tree, counts. Wilderness International picks pieces of land for protection according to strategic considerations. The area on Porcher Island enlarges an already existing protected area of nature, and the land in the Toba Valley – at the confluence of the Big Toba and Little Toba – indirectly protects a much larger area which includes a migration corridor for wolves, grizzly bears and wapitis. Altogether, Wilderness International has already bought and permanently protected 3,9 million square meters of land. At the core of our concept is the ecological necessity to protect at least small areas of untouched nature where biodiversity remains intact and natural processes can take place without interference, as they have for thousands of years. For the successful re-naturalization of nearby areas, these cells of primeval forest are essential for threatened species to spread out once again. In addition to the land purchases, environmental education is another important piece of our concept. We want to inspire the next generation and empower them to become active in the protection of nature on our planet. In the framework of our Walk for the Wild, every year thousands of students learn about the temperate rainforest ecosystem and its importance.
11. How can I support Wilderness International?
You can support Wilderness International in many ways:
- Wilderness sponsorship: donate directly for the protection of wilderness. You can also give a sponsorship as a gift. Find more information about this under “What is a wilderness sponsorship?”
- Become a Sustaining Member: Support us with a regular unbound donation.
12. What is the value of the foundation’s basic assets?
The assets comprise the capital of the benefactors on the one hand, totalling 54,000 Euro, and on the other hand the already-purchased properties in Canada. Wilderness International owns seven pieces of land with a size of altogether 381 hectares.
Our long-range goal is to be able to finance our running costs (taxes and administration) with the interest rates of our basic assets.
1. Why should I care about nature in Canada?
– Singular and diverse nature
The temperate rainforest is a unique ecosystem. The ancient forests house a singular diversity of flora and fauna, and thousand-year-old tree giants. It is the natural habitat of rare phantom flowers, as well as bears, wolves and eagles. You can read more here.
– Climate maintenance
The temperate rainforests around the world are able to retain the most CO2. The moors and trees, which can grow to be up to 2,000 years old, play a significant role in the protection of our climate. Nowhere else do trees bind as much CO2 – in the Land of the Grizzlies it is 104.79 kilogram per square meter! Greenhouse gasses distribute themselves equally in the atmosphere. Due to the principle of climate neutrality, it does not matter where emissions are created or reduced. Rather, it is important that the concentration of the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere is reduced everywhere around the world. The protection of Canadian rainforests is therefore a tangible contribution to nature protection.
You can find more information on this here.
– Wilderness has positive effects worldwide
The protection of wilderness areas has many positive effects: Stable rainfall, clean air, clear water, diversity of flora and fauna, preservation of the climate, calming effects for retreat and relaxation, fantastic landscapes, room for adventure and challenges, reflection on our roots. We will profit from the positive effects of preserving these areas everywhere in the world, it makes no difference where we preserve them.
– There is still wilderness in Canada
Wilderness or untouched nature is the only place where natural processes can take place undisturbed. Only here can innumerable species find an appropriate place to live and thrive. Wilderness areas are therefore a refuge, where animals and birds can find long-term survival. If nature protection areas are established, biodiversity can once again expand.
Germany also once had widespread ancient forests with old trees. The fact that today there is nothing left of these shows that wilderness is not a given and can not be taken for granted. It is our responsibility to protect the remaining wilderness areas, no matter where they are located.
– Saying „thank you“ to nature
The balance in nature is only maintained if we also begin to give and not just take. Therefore, it is time to finally give back to nature. Let us say “thank you” for everything it has given us by protecting it.
– Legal certainty and permanent protection
Canada is a constitutional democracy with strict rules about legally owning property, making an arbitrary expropriation impossible. In Canada, the destruction of private lands brings with it comprehensive sanctions – as opposed to countries with less stringent legal certainty. The British Columbia Trespass Act expressly forbids trespassing on privately-held land. Breaches will be pursued in a court of law, even if there is no damage or harm done. A fence, natural boundaries or signs must be in place. Our land is identified with signs. In addition, our protected areas are very remote and can only be reached with large financial and material costs, a great deal of time and not without significant risk.
We also visit the protected areas on regular expeditions.
The areas are purchased by Wilderness International and our Canadian sister foundation Wilderness International (Canada) and documented in the official land registry. Our statute declares that the pieces of land must remain untouched and undeveloped, and may only be visited for reasons of research and documentation. Our foundation construct forbids any individual from owning the property outright. The foundation and the land are owned by the people currently engaged in the foundation at that particular moment in time.
In this way, the parcels of land are protected long term.
Whenever we buy a piece of land, we pay in advance. Your donation refinances the purchase. This way, we can make sure that your donation really does protect exactly the piece of land that you have chosen.
– Acute threat
Of the original area of temperate rainforest on the earth, only 25% remains today. These last areas are under acute threat by:
¥ Urban sprawl and building of infrastructure such as roads
¥ Canada’s withdrawal from the Kyoto-Protocol
¥ Canada’s withdrawal from the international convention on the protection of species
Read more about this under the questions ”Why no local projects?“ and “Why don’t Canadians work for their own nature protection?“
2. How will my donation be used?
The donations are used to purchase wilderness areas in Canada and Peru, which will then be protected forever. Our administration costs are at about 7-11% and our personnel costs (including personnel for projects) is at about 18-24%. Therefore, Wilderness International can use most of the donations for the protection of ancient forests as well as education and regional nature conservation projects, for example in schools.
– Sponsorship donation: 50% goes to refinancing property purchases and thus to directly and permanently protecting the area that you have chosen; the second 50% is used for the scientific research on the diversity of species and carbon flows as well as education and the annual property tax of our natural areas.
– Unattached donations: support the projects that need financial support the most.
– Sustaining Memberships: structural support of the foundation.
– Sponsoring-Money: for Walk for the Wild and other activities, water, food, communication, tables, van rent etc.
3. Why does Wilderness International not have a DZI seal?
In March 2015, the foundation board decided that Wilderness International would not apply for a DZI seal of approval, but instead will join the Initiative Transparent Civil Society (Initiative Transparente Zivilgesellschaft). The decision was based on the recommendation and conclusions reached by our long-time foundation board member Ellen Weiland in her Master’s Thesis “Responsible Management in Foundation System – Derivation of a recommendation on the example of Wilderness International“.
Key points which speak against applying for a DZI seal of approval:
– Misappropriation of donations for the cost of an application for certification
– High work and cost load for a small foundation which is run as an NGO
„In addition to an examination of the relationship of trust between stakeholders and the foundation, the question to be answered is whether or not it is ethically correct to spend part of the collected donations for the costs of an application for the DZI-seal of approval. From the point of view of the foundation management, this is a misappropriation of funds, since the management holds the responsibility to concretely and correctly spend the donations, and to not use time or other resources for the submission of extensive documentation associated with such an application.“
– Ellen Weiland, “Responsible Management in Foundation System – Derivation of a recommendation on the example of Wilderness International“.
In addition there are large, well-known organizations such as WWF and BUND who also do not have a DZI donation seal of approval.
4. What is the „Initiative Transparente Zivilgesellschaft“?
The ITZ is a voluntary initiative for transparency in charitable organizations. It was established by Transparency International Deutschland. TID is a non-profit, politically independent organization which works on issues around effective and sustainable control and containment of corruption. State, economy and civil society are committed to work together and build coalitions. The goal is to sensitize public awareness about the destructive results of corruption and to strengthen systems of integrity. One of the methods to achieve this is the ITZ-seal, which addresses the situation that in Germany there are no uniform publication responsibilities for non-profit organizations. Therefore, the ITZ offers organizations the possibility to voluntarily commit to transparency and openness by publishing „10 pieces of information for the public“. These include the organization’s statute, the names of essential decision-makers as well as information about sources of funds, use of funds and personnel structure. In order to make Wilderness International even more transparent, we joined the Initiative Transparente Zivilgesellschaft in 2016 and publish our data and annual reports. You can find them here. In addition to that, we are happy to offer our supporters detailed information about the way we work and our finances in a personal conversation.
5. How is the protection of the parcels of land financed after the purchase?
After the purchase, the land creates no direct costs. No ranger or gardener is employed to take care of it. We do not interfere in nature nor change anything in the forest. The goal of Wilderness International is to protect the wilderness from human influence. We finance the property taxes for our protected areas with the annual income from interest rates of the basic assets of Wilderness International.
6. What influences the price of the forest?
The price of the land depends on several factors:
- Location and access
- Current price of wood
- Factors such as natural resources and volume of biomass
- Number of other interested parties
- Length of sale negotiations
- Current owner
- The negotiation acumen and skill of our Canadian foundation president, David MacDonald
7. Will I receive a receipt for my donation?
Yes. We issue a receipt for donations of 50 Euro or more. If you donated less, you can use the bank account statement for your tax return.
8. What is a wilderness sponsorship?
A wilderness sponsorship is a one-time donation for the permanent protection of a particular portion of forest. For example, if you donate 50 Euro, you enable us to purchase and permanently protect an area of 64 square meters of forest. There are no further financial responsibilities for you. You receive a sponsorship certificate with the concrete geo-coordinates of your piece of land, as well as a receipt for your taxes. Thus, the donation is tax-deductible. We always purchase and pay for the land ahead of time. Your donation refinances the purchase. This is how we make sure that your donation protects exactly the portion of forest that you have chosen. On our sponsorship platform, you can see your area from the air and thus get a bird’s-eye-view. You can also enter the geo-coordinates in Google Maps. The sponsorship is not terminable.
1. What is the Walk for the Wild?
The Walk for the Wild is a sponsored run for schools. The participating school children have one hour to run as many laps around the track as they can. Ahead of time, they search for sponsors who will donate an amount to Wilderness International per lap completed. Every year about 6,000 students from more than 30 Schools across Germany take part in Walk for the Wild.
2. What are the donations used for?
80% of the donations are set aside to pay for the purchase and scientific exploration of our wilderness areas, as well as for educational activities. The other 20% can be used by the participating schools for the execution of their own local environmental protection projects. For every 50 Euro collected, Wilderness International and its runners as well as sponsors and donors protect a 64 square meter piece of wilderness for eternity.
3. Why are students your target group?
The Walk for the Wild gives young people the possibility to directly and sustainably impact their world. We want to inspire children and young adults for the protection of nature. Thus, we support schools in conveying important goals of their teaching syllabus. Participation in the Walk for the Wild encourages class cohesion, in that all children work towards the same goal: the protection of a forest area. Through the principle of sponsorship they learn a way to finance and carry out their own projects.
4. Why during the school day?
In preparation for the sponsored run, the students are informed about the environmental issues and nature protection in Canada and Peru. They learn about the ecosystems temperate and tropical rainforest and are educated about the complex, global significance of this ecosystem. Through participation in the Walk for the Wild and the search for sponsors, the following skills (according to the goals of the high school syllabus of Saxony) are practiced:
- Reflection and discussion skills
- Interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary thinking
- Communication skills
- Environmental awareness
- Value orientation
- Ability to take responsibility
After the Walk for the Wild, participating schools can use 20% of the donated money to implement their own local environmental protection projects.
5. How is the Walk for the Wild financed?
All costs for the organization and execution of the Walk for the Wild are paid for by our sponsors or earmarked donations. Donations which come to us through the Walk for the Wild are not used for this purpose. Our partners also provide prizes for particularly successful students and classes.
6. Since when has Wilderness International hosted the Walk for the Wild?
Ever since the founding of the foundation in 2008, the Walk for the Wild has been a key component of our work to protect untouched nature. Every year, we hold between five and eight Walk for the Wild events, cooperating with about 30 schools.
7. Students – I lost my sponsorship sheet. What can I do?
The Walk for the Wild sheet is made up of two parts:
a) If you have lost the top part, then send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information: ▪ Name ▪ School ▪ Class ▪ Number of laps ▪ Names and addresses of the sponsors (for the tax receipts) ▪ E-Mail-Adresses of the sponsors (for possible questions) ▪ Amount per sponsor ▪ Six-digit contribution number (You will find this on the bottom part of the sheet.)
b) If you have lost the bottom part and your sponsor does not know where to transfer the money, they can find information here. Careful, please – Every run has a different account number!
c) If you have lost the entire sheet then follow a) first, then b). Please tell your sponsors to include your name with the transfer. Otherwise, we cannot assign the money to you. Thank you!
8. Students – I want to participate in a Walk for the Wild. What do I have to do?
Participating in a Walk for the Wild is entirely voluntary. If your school holds a run, but not your class, then you can ask your school to allow you to participate. If we have not yet been in contact with your school, you can take the initiative. Inform your fellow students and call us directly, or ask your teachers to contact us.
9. Students – How do I find sponsors?
Anyone can be a sponsor. It doesn’t matter if they are parents, the baker down the street, doctors or large companies. Talk about what you know about the temperate rainforest, and why you want to participate in the Walk for the Wild. Ask if they want to support you. The search for sponsors can be difficult, because not everyone will agree with your request. Don’t give up – every single Euro counts!
10. Students – Where does the sponsorship sheet go?
When we hold our preparatory environmental education event at your school, we will bring the sponsorship sheets. You can take as many as you think you will need. We also always leave a few extra sheets with your teacher, in the faculty room or the administration offices, so that you can get more if you need them. It is important to fill out one sheet per sponsor, and to not copy them. Every sponsorship sheet has a unique number so that later, we can assign the funds to the correct runner. You fill out the top part and begin to search for sponsors. You will negotiate an amount with that sponsor for every lap you complete. Together, you then fill out the bottom part of the sheet. Bring the completed sheets with you to the Walk for the Wild. After the run, write the number of laps you completed at the top and the bottom of the sheet. Your teacher will confirm this and you will sign the sponsorship sheet. After the run, you will bring the bottom part to your sponsors so that they know how much money they need to transfer. Alternatively, you can photograph your sponsor sheet and send it to your supporters by e-mail, SMS or WhatsApp. Make sure they write your name and the name of your school on the bank transfer, and that you have their name exactly correct. It is best if you call them up and go through the sheet line by line.
11. Students – How can I keep track of how many laps I have completed?
You can ask your teacher to count your laps or you can ask one of your friends or family members to count them.
12. Parents – Why should my child take part in a Walk for the Wild?
The Walk for the Wild allows your child to permanently make a difference in the world. Additionally, 20% of the collected donations can be used by your child’s school to complete its own local environmental projects. In the past, a lot of great things have been done. You can find some examples here. Your child will be sensitized for the protection of nature with a personal success experience. In addition, your child will get to know a new way of completing and financing their own projects, namely through sponsorship. The students will directly and permanently protect unique ecosystems. We certify this engagement with wilderness sponsorship certificates, which will list the exact geo-coordinates of the protected areas.
13. Parents – What if my child runs more laps than expected?
Be happy that your child is so motivated to protect nature! In the case that you did not write a maximum amount into your sponsorship agreement but the calculated donation is too high, you can just transfer a sum that is appropriate for you. Just contact us – we will find a solution!
14. Teachers – How does the Walk for the Wild work?
About 30 minutes before the run begins, you come to the location with your class. There is a welcome and warm-up 15 minutes prior to the start of the run. The actual run takes one hour. Afterwards, there is fruit for all the participants. Altogether, you should plan about two hours for the event in addition to arrival and departure.
15. Teachers – How can I be sure that the students have counted their laps correctly?
Usually, the students just count their laps by themselves. You could draw a line on the students’ hand or arm after every lap, get older students to help you, or keep a list yourself.
16. Sponsors – How long does it take until I get my tax receipt?
We usually write and send the receipts about six months after the run.
17. Sponsors – Why should I sponsor a student? Four good reasons to become a sponsor.
1) As a sponsor for a Walk for the Wild runner, you have the possibility to contribute to the protection of one of the most valuable ecosystems in the world.
2) You support the engagement of students and give them an experience of success.
3) The protected forest areas are important carbon troughs. You will be actively participating in climate protection with your donation. Read more here.
4) Your donation is tax-deductible.
18. What is a Feedback sheet?
The feedback sheet is neither a demand for money nor a reminder. They are only there for the students to keep track of the sponsorship donations they collected and in order to prevent mistakes.
1. Why don’t Canadians support the project themselves?
Most Canadians are thrilled when they hear about our project, and they also want to participate. Unfortunately, in Canada not that many people are not yet aware of the limited nature of resources. In addition, logging is a traditional and important part of the economy with an influential and rather rich lobby, similar to the automobile industry in Germany. There are Canadian NGOs who work to protect wilderness areas, but their political influence is low.
2. Why no local projects?
Nature protection is of essential importance also in Germany, and it excites us. Therefore, we work for biodiversity in our own neighborhoods too. For example, 20% of all donations raised at the Walk for the Wild are used for local projects at participating schools. For nature protection to be successful, though, refuges which enable the survival and expansion of various species are also necessary. Therefore, we must protect the areas that still exist. At Wilderness International, our top priority is to protect valuable nature, intact areas and biodiversity. In Germany, there are no large wilderness areas left any more. In Canada‘s temperate rainforest, however, we find wild nature, a high degree of species diversity and thousand-year-old trees. Through the low price of land, we are able to permanently protect very large, ecologically valuable swaths of land with little money. Therefore, we find that we can use donations and volunteer work most effectively here. Nature conservation projects in Germany are important and should also be supported. As is wilderness protection. Every organization must have an area of focus, no one organization can change everything. Engagement works best when it is done with passion. Wilderness International has dedicated itself to wilderness protection.
3. 1. What is Wilderness International doing on a political level, or to influence environmental policy, in order to protect Canadian rainforests?
The primary goal of Wilderness International is the tangible protection of wilderness areas. We have experienced that changes in environmental policy are often achieved only through long-term, resource-heavy processes, and its success is often not permanent. Therefore, we are working on practical protection, and actively and directly take part in protecting ecologically valuable habitats. Along with the purchase of wilderness areas, we also work together with indigenous people (for example the Cowichan and the Gwich’in). We support local actors who engage in nature protection and point out problems, and help them gain a global audience. One example of this cooperation was achieving long-term protection of the Peel River Watershed, a wilderness area the size of Scotland in northern Canada. Further information can be found here.
4. How does Wilderness International define “wilderness”?
We define wilderness as unspoiled, ecologically intact nature landscapes.
5. Why protect wilderness?
Wilderness or unspoiled nature is the only place where natural processes can take place undisturbed. Only here is it possible for uncountable species to find habitats to exist. Wilderness areas are therefore a refuge in which animals and plants can live, survive and thrive. When areas are re-naturalized, biodiversity can spread from wilderness areas. Wilderness areas, no matter where they are, have many positive effects for the entire earth: clean air, clear water, biodiversity and climate protection. They offer areas of calm for retreat and rest, fantastic landscapes, as well as space for adventure and challenge, or also contemplation about our roots. Areas of nature that have not been influenced by human hand are becoming more and more rare and therefore are treasures for us and the following generations. Once nature has been changed through industrialization, mining or agriculture, it can only be repaired with high costs and large efforts. That is why we believe the protection of intact ecosystems is the best way to protect the environment.
Once upon a time, there were also primitive forests with old trees here in Germany, too. The fact that there is nothing left shows that wilderness is not a given and cannot be taken for granted. It is our responsibility to protect the wilderness areas that are left, no matter where they are located. The natural balance will only exist if we stop taking and also start giving. Therefore, it is finally time to give back to nature. Let us thank her for all she has given us – let us protect her.
1. What is the environmental ambassador program? What is behind ”Wisdom Seekers Knowledge Keepers?“
“Wisdom Seekers Knowledge Keepers” is an international scholarship program for nature protection and global responsibility. The environmental ambassador program makes it possible for students who are particularly interested in this topic to travel to the areas that they have protected with their participation in the Walk for the Wild. At the core of this program is a multiple-week expedition to the areas in Canada protected by Wilderness International. Students in the 9th to 11th grades experience wilderness up close, learn about the culture of the First Nations and carry out their own scientific projects. In this way, an emotional connection is created and they can speak authentically about these ecosystems and their importance. After the expedition, the students become so-called environmental ambassadors who aim to inspire others for nature protection. Though their projects and the results of their research and experience in the wilderness, they share this new knowledge with others. Many former scholars continue to engage in nature protection long after the end of the program.
2. What do I have to do to participate in the scholarship program?
Students who are in 9th to 11th grade and whose schools have participated in a Walk for the Wild, can participate in the ”Widsom Seekers Knowledge Keepers“ scholarship program. The first step is the written application. You can find information about the timeline and the application here. An important part of the application is your research project. You develop research questions and ideas about how you could best carry it out in Canada. Of course, the topic must have some relation to the flora and fauna of Canada or to First Nations. If you are invited to an interview, you have already cleared the first hurdle. Then, you have to convince the jury of yourself and the value of your project. A few days after the interview, you will find out if you are going on the expedition.
3. 1. Which research projects are supported by the Helmholtz center for environmental research (UFZ) and who is the main contact there?
Our contact at UFZ is Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Andreas Huth, who works in the department called ”Ecological system analysis“. He conducts scientific consulting work for us as we expand our model to calculate the carbon flow and with forest inventories, that we regularly carry out in Canada. In 2018, we are planning a further research project to model biomass in the protected primitive forests. In the course of this research we are planning a “light detection and ranging“ (LIDAR) flight. Thus, we can validate our forest inventory, which creates the basis of our model for the CO<sub>2<sub>-calculator. The scientific cooperation was strengthened through collaboration on the thesis of our longtime colleague Hannes Holtermann, titled, „Carbon Sequestration in a Temperate Rainforest on Porcher Island, Canada“.