The Foundation

The Foundation
In wildness is the preservation of the world.
Henry David Thoreau

Wilderness International

It all began with the enthusiasm for forests with huge trees. Today, Wilderness International is a non-profit foundation with a great goal. We want to protect unique wilderness areas for future generations. Since our founding in 2008, with the help of schools, companies and private individuals we have been able to purchase, register and thus legally protect 3.16 million square meters of valuable and endangered rainforest in Canada. Numerous scientific institutions support our research projects on CO2-absorbtion and biodiversity in the coastal rainforests.

We are a small and flexible organization, always looking to use our funds in the most effective and efficient ways. Donations, institutional support and volunteer work support the operations of the foundation. Our participatory structure makes it possible to grow with new ideas and exchange opinions between generations.

Our Motivation

Why do we work to keep nature intact? Areas that have been untouched by humans are ever more rare, and thus becoming irreplaceable treasures. Once nature has been disturbed by clear cuts, mining or urban sprawl, it is often difficult to repair, if at all. It then requires a lot of work and often, a lot of money. Therefore, long-term conservation is the most efficient and effective way to preserve valuable habitats for future generations. These protected areas allow threatened animal and plant species to survive, and support the preservation of unique ecosystems.

Wilderness areas are expressions of nature in its most original form! They are our inspiration, and our ancient home. Only in these areas is everything connected in a natural balance. If this harmony is destroyed by industrial logging, the network of life is also torn. We at Wilderness International, with the help of the students and our partners, purchase land that is valuable and acutely threatened, and secure it in the national land registry.

We bring the local residents into our team and offer exchange and research projects, bringing together enthusiastic young people, scientists and companies. We are convinced that together we can create a future worth living in.

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Our Idea of Nature Conservation

Successful nature conservation works only with direct commitment. We want to enable everyone to protect rainforest. At the heart of our projects are our sponsorships and wilderness races – so that all generations can take responsibility and balance out their personal consumption of nature. On research expeditions, committed young people experience the unique flora and fauna of our protected areas. Thereby, they become ambassadors for the environment.

Why Are We Involved in Canada?

Ancient tree giants. Mysterious ghost flowers. Crystal-clear rivers. Flying eagles. The temperate rainforest of Western Canada is a natural wonder. And yet, only 25% of this valuable ecosystem remain. The protection of the remaining ancient forests is essential, as we profit from their benefits all over the world. Learn more about this here:

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Organisation

Team

Environmental Ambassadors

Council

Board

Founder / Benefactor

Volunteers

Luka Büttner
Profession / Career
Environmental Ambassador 2011
Why Wilderness International
Tobias Hürten
Key Account Manager
Profession / Career
Environmental Ambassador 2014, two years of volunteering at Wilderness International after the Abitur High School Leaving Certificate, continuing work for WI
Why Wilderness International
When I was in 5th grade and heard about trees that are more than a hundred times older than us, I decided to take part in the Walk for the Wild. It felt good to be able to actively participate in the international and local protection of wilderness. Being able to go on an expedition to Western Canada in 11th grade was a crucial point in my life because I experienced the unique nature of the Toba Valley with all my senses. The wide, untouched wilderness there impressed me so much that I wanted to keep being involved in the foundation’s work. Organizing the Walks for the Wild and the Wilderness Team Challenges have allowed me to grow personally and realize new ideas. A second expedition to our protected wilderness areas and to the Western Arctic have once again shown me the importance of our work – and expanded my technical and cultural skills.
Henriette Wessel
Coordination
Profession / Career
Environmental Ambassador 2014, two years of Federal Volunteer Service at Wilderness International after the Abitur High School Leaving Certificate, continuing work for WI
Why Wilderness International
Starting in 5th grade, I excitedly participated in the Walk for the Wild and carefully listened to the presentations about ancient giant forests. When later I read about the expedition to the Toba Valley, I realized that my chance had come to see and explore this amazing strange world with my own eyes. The people that I met on this trip and the adventures we had were so inspiring that I decided to do a Volunteer Gap Year for the organization before going to university, and I am already in my second volunteer year now. During this time, an extraordinary focus developed: the management of a culture and conservation expedition with German and Gwich’in First Nation Youth in the Canadian Western Arctic!
Stephan Hürten
Head of Council
Profession / Career
Biology Studies in Marburg with a major in conservation; from 1994 surveying function in environmental planning in Frankfurt and Dresden; from 1995 to July 2001 self-employed in environmental planning; since August 2001 biology teacher at the private high school Evangelisches Kreuzgymnasium Dresden; from 2008 to 2014 Chief Financial Officer at WI
Why Wilderness International
As a student, I was confronted with the rapid destruction of the tropical rainforest in South America. All predictions of land loss – unthinkable in my eyes at that time – have come true, despite the best arguments for the preservation of forests. I cannot bear being an idle bystander to this process. Thankfully, Wilderness International gives me the opportunity to act for the conservation of our earth. Permanently preserving endangered forests through purchase, and at the same time reducing the climate footprint – that is as direct and simple as conservation can get. And thanks to Wilderness International, everyone can participate.
Charlotte Voigt
Profession / Career
2012: International Baccalaureate from Frankfurt International School. Two years studying Natural Resources Conservation in Vancouver, now continuing studies in Environmental- and Bio-resources management in Vienna.
Why Wilderness International
After my first time visiting the ancient forests of British Columbia I knew that this place was one of a kind and that the connection and calm I feel in this place, I would not find anywhere else. I decided to start volunteering with the organization during my last two years of school, raising awareness among my fellow students about this unique environment. After graduating I started my studies on conservation in Vancouver in order to learn more about the complex ecosystem; the temperate rainforest. During this time I also had the opportunity be a part of two expeditions and experience how this place plays its magic on other students, much the same as it did with me. I am glad to be able to share these experiences and contribute to the conservation efforts with Wilderness International.
Thomas Mach
Member of Council
Profession / Career
since 2010: Head of Department Marketing & Sales at the tour operator DIAMIR Erlebnisreisen GmbH
Why Wilderness International
Growing up on Usedom, an island of the Baltic Sea, I have always had a special relation to nature. Since my youth, I have been traveling the continents of our earth in tours of up to several weeks. Over the course of time, however, an uneasiness grew within me. Something was bothering me, but I could not quite grasp what it was. Accompanying the work of a student for his thesis in sustainability at DIAMIR and seeing the start of Diamir’s forest conservation project with Wilderness International 2016, I became slowly aware of the cause for my uneasiness: Climate change, over tourism, social injustice and the exploitation of the resources of our planet are topics that concern my in my private and professional life. In my eyes, DIAMIR Adventure Travels offers an honest solution for tourism by travelling in small groups and offsetting its carbon footprint. Encouraging our clients to voluntarily compensate the other half of their trip’s carbon footprint makes people conscious of this topic that concerns us all. And I as well realized another thing that is very important: Auch bei mir stellte sich eine wichtige Erkenntnis ein: I am not alone with my thoughts and the desire to make a change. As a father and nature lover, I feel the urgent need to become active for the conservation of intact nature. The expedition to the DIAMIR Forest in the Toba Valley left a lasting impression on me. The strong contrast between the intact nature along the Toba Valley and the large areas of clear cut around it showed me how important it is to protect these habitats and unique treasures of nature. Due to this impulse, my long-term cooperation with Wilderness International, and knowing the personal, honest commitment of all WI activists, I decided to join as a volunteer. Because I am not alone!
Carina Büder
Volunteer Public Relations
Profession / Career
After graduating from high school 1.5 years of voluntary service in Costa Rica; February 2018-September 2018 federal voluntary service with WI
Why Wilderness International
Since my childhood, I have been fascinated by our environment, the animals living in it and all kinds of natural processes. This admiration for nature intensified during my stay in Costa Rica, and my awareness for environmental protection has gone sky high. That is why I was delighted when a friend told me about doing a federal voluntary service with WI, allowing me to directly support the long-term protection of untouched nature. For me, it is self-evident to live ecosensitively in day-to-day life, and working a job to protect what I enjoy most during my free time was the perfect solution for me.
Antonia Seifert
Volunteer
Profession / Career
15 months of voluntary service in Nicaragua after graduating from high school; federal voluntary service with WI from February 2018 to September 2018
Why Wilderness International
During my stay in Central America I had the opportunity to see ancient forests with a large biodiversity. At the same time, I was confronted with environmental destruction and its devastating consequences. These events made me even more aware of why untouched nature is so worth protecting. Thus, I wanted to become more involved in this field. When searching for an organization for my federal volunteer service, I read about WI. I liked their concept of preserving unique Canadian wilderness forever by organizing the charity run „Walk for the Wild“ and issuing sponsorships, thus creating a personal relationship between people and their protected area.
Kai Andersch
Director
Profession / Career
Msc. Forestry Science; 21 years of project work in Canada; 8 years of project work in the Amazon region
Why Wilderness International
Wild nature is where I am inspired, where I feel at home. Next to a giant tree in the rainforest, aside the foggy river, or high atop a mountain – nature allows us to regain power, and to experience the big and small wonders of this world. Over the past 20 years, I have seen entire forests disappear, I have seen cities and streets encroach on lakes and valleys. From year to year, we lose more and more of our planet’s pristine nature – at a terrifying pace. It is forcing us to act! I adore nature, and as a part of Wilderness International, I want to fight for the future of an earth that never ceases to be amazing, wild, and beautiful.
David MacDonald
Director Wilderness International (Canada)
Profession / Career
BA Economics; 11 years of project work in Canada
Why Wilderness International
I have a deep love and respect for nature. The beauty and power of these wild places is something that we are only beginning to understand. Sadly, the rate at which these wild places are disappearing is of great concern to me. If we don’t act many of these will be lost forever! The passion and commitment of everyone at Wilderness International is truly inspiring. Their commitment to bring awareness to and educate is the direction we must take if we are to have these wild places left for our future.
Ronny Scholz
Member of Board and Manager of WI’s office in Dresden, Photographer
Profession / Career
Since 2001: Assistent for Medical Technology; since 2008: Photographer, Voluntary Accompaniment of Projects
Why Wilderness International
Sustainable change is only possible from bottom to top and with personal conviction. That’s what I believe in. And that is what made me join Wilderness International as a volunteer 10 years ago. The conservation of nature is an essential attitude for every human. The protection of biodiversity and the fragile ecological balance, the preservation of traditional places of living that protect our climate as well as the culture of indigenous peoples, the conservation of habitats, the prevention of global migrations due to hunger and poverty, the reduction of carbon emissions – all this and even more is part of nature conservation. Allowing individuals to experience this and motivating them as well as companies to become active, is what I love about my work at WI. I started with networking and accompanying projects with students and youth. My medical condition gave me more time to think and made me realize what a treasure the family is, with all its resources and other gifts worthy of safeguarding. So meanwhile, I have become an expert in preservation and enjoy it a lot. Ever since I cannot work anymore, I focus the time at my hands on my tasks at WI. This allowed me to acquire large partners such as HEROLÉ Travels and to coordinate many other projects. This work has shown me what a structured approach on needs and processes on top of an honestly motivated communication for our goal can achieve. This is what I want to continue to do and consolidate. With transparency. With fun. With WI.
Jürgen Thiele
Chief Financial Officer
Profession / Career
Diploma electrical engineering; Scientific coworker at MLW research center; Clinical engineer dental clinic Medical Academy Dresden; CEO dental depot Anton Gerl Dresden
Why Wilderness International
In the 1970s and 80s, when I was a young man and an active winter sportsman, I had to witness the great forest decline in Germany’s Eastern Ore Mountains. On top of that came the nuclear disaster of Chernobyl in 1986. These events formed a strong environmental consciousness within me at a young age. Later, Kai Andersch inspired me to become involved in international conservation – first, supporting the Dresden Walk for the Wild with my company Gerl as an excited sponsor, then more intensely as a founding capital donor starting in 2008. Today, I volunteer as Chief Financial Officer.
Kai Andersch
Director
Profession / Career
Msc. Forestry Science; 21 years of project work in Canada; 8 years of project work in the Amazon region
Why Wilderness International
Wild nature is where I am inspired, where I feel at home. Next to a giant tree in the rainforest, aside the foggy river, or high atop a mountain – nature allows us to regain power, and to experience the big and small wonders of this world. Over the past 20 years, I have seen entire forests disappear, I have seen cities and streets encroach on lakes and valleys. From year to year, we lose more and more of our planet’s pristine nature – at a terrifying pace. It is forcing us to act! I adore nature, and as a part of Wilderness International, I want to fight for the future of an earth that never ceases to be amazing, wild, and beautiful.
Hans Dierstein
Profession / Career
Insurance Management B.A., BWV Cologne; Consultant for financial services, IHK Passau; currently freelancing as broker for financial services
Why Wilderness International
Right from the start, I especially liked Wilderness International’s idea that every sponsor could protect their very own piece of wilderness. Working for Wilderness International, I have seen how all sorts of different people can be enthused with environmental protection and then become involved directly. To witness this inspiring thrill and excitement for conservation continuously motivates me to share the experience that personal action can directly lead to positive change.
Stephan Hürten
Head of Council
Profession / Career
Biology Studies in Marburg with a major in conservation; from 1994 surveying function in environmental planning in Frankfurt and Dresden; from 1995 to July 2001 self-employed in environmental planning; since August 2001 biology teacher at the private high school Evangelisches Kreuzgymnasium Dresden; from 2008 to 2014 Chief Financial Officer at WI
Why Wilderness International
As a student, I was confronted with the rapid destruction of the tropical rainforest in South America. All predictions of land loss – unthinkable in my eyes at that time – have come true, despite the best arguments for the preservation of forests. I cannot bear being an idle bystander to this process. Thankfully, Wilderness International gives me the opportunity to act for the conservation of our earth. Permanently preserving endangered forests through purchase, and at the same time reducing the climate footprint – that is as direct and simple as conservation can get. And thanks to Wilderness International, everyone can participate.
Thomas Kimmel
Profession / Career
Diploma in Business Administration; currently working as CEO and owner of 7o7 Marketing GmbH and the tour operator DIAMIR Erlebnisreisen GmbH
Why Wilderness International
By founding the tour operator DIAMIR adventure travel, I turned my hobby into my profession. Our primary goal is the protection of intact natural habitat, as they constitute the basis for our adventure trips. Having travelled through the rainforests of Western Canada myself, I have a deep personal connection to the areas that Wilderness International protects. During this trip I also saw vast clear-cut areas and immediately knew – we have to prevent those from expanding! Working with Wilderness International allows me to do so: In Western Canada’s temperate rainforest, we protect intact nature, the home of big mammals and ancient trees. Conservation has thereby become more tangible for me, and I am forever convinced that we need to protect those last remaining wild old growth forests of our earth.
Thomas Mach
Member of Council
Profession / Career
since 2010: Head of Department Marketing & Sales at the tour operator DIAMIR Erlebnisreisen GmbH
Why Wilderness International
Growing up on Usedom, an island of the Baltic Sea, I have always had a special relation to nature. Since my youth, I have been traveling the continents of our earth in tours of up to several weeks. Over the course of time, however, an uneasiness grew within me. Something was bothering me, but I could not quite grasp what it was. Accompanying the work of a student for his thesis in sustainability at DIAMIR and seeing the start of Diamir’s forest conservation project with Wilderness International 2016, I became slowly aware of the cause for my uneasiness: Climate change, over tourism, social injustice and the exploitation of the resources of our planet are topics that concern my in my private and professional life. In my eyes, DIAMIR Adventure Travels offers an honest solution for tourism by travelling in small groups and offsetting its carbon footprint. Encouraging our clients to voluntarily compensate the other half of their trip’s carbon footprint makes people conscious of this topic that concerns us all. And I as well realized another thing that is very important: Auch bei mir stellte sich eine wichtige Erkenntnis ein: I am not alone with my thoughts and the desire to make a change. As a father and nature lover, I feel the urgent need to become active for the conservation of intact nature. The expedition to the DIAMIR Forest in the Toba Valley left a lasting impression on me. The strong contrast between the intact nature along the Toba Valley and the large areas of clear cut around it showed me how important it is to protect these habitats and unique treasures of nature. Due to this impulse, my long-term cooperation with Wilderness International, and knowing the personal, honest commitment of all WI activists, I decided to join as a volunteer. Because I am not alone!
Ronny Scholz
Member of Board and Manager of WI’s office in Dresden, Photographer
Profession / Career
Since 2001: Assistent for Medical Technology; since 2008: Photographer, Voluntary Accompaniment of Projects
Why Wilderness International
Sustainable change is only possible from bottom to top and with personal conviction. That’s what I believe in. And that is what made me join Wilderness International as a volunteer 10 years ago. The conservation of nature is an essential attitude for every human. The protection of biodiversity and the fragile ecological balance, the preservation of traditional places of living that protect our climate as well as the culture of indigenous peoples, the conservation of habitats, the prevention of global migrations due to hunger and poverty, the reduction of carbon emissions – all this and even more is part of nature conservation. Allowing individuals to experience this and motivating them as well as companies to become active, is what I love about my work at WI. I started with networking and accompanying projects with students and youth. My medical condition gave me more time to think and made me realize what a treasure the family is, with all its resources and other gifts worthy of safeguarding. So meanwhile, I have become an expert in preservation and enjoy it a lot. Ever since I cannot work anymore, I focus the time at my hands on my tasks at WI. This allowed me to acquire large partners such as HEROLÉ Travels and to coordinate many other projects. This work has shown me what a structured approach on needs and processes on top of an honestly motivated communication for our goal can achieve. This is what I want to continue to do and consolidate. With transparency. With fun. With WI.
Jürgen Thiele
Chief Financial Officer
Profession / Career
Diploma electrical engineering; Scientific coworker at MLW research center; Clinical engineer dental clinic Medical Academy Dresden; CEO dental depot Anton Gerl Dresden
Why Wilderness International
In the 1970s and 80s, when I was a young man and an active winter sportsman, I had to witness the great forest decline in Germany’s Eastern Ore Mountains. On top of that came the nuclear disaster of Chernobyl in 1986. These events formed a strong environmental consciousness within me at a young age. Later, Kai Andersch inspired me to become involved in international conservation – first, supporting the Dresden Walk for the Wild with my company Gerl as an excited sponsor, then more intensely as a founding capital donor starting in 2008. Today, I volunteer as Chief Financial Officer.
Charlotte Voigt
Profession / Career
2012: International Baccalaureate from Frankfurt International School. Two years studying Natural Resources Conservation in Vancouver, now continuing studies in Environmental- and Bio-resources management in Vienna.
Why Wilderness International
After my first time visiting the ancient forests of British Columbia I knew that this place was one of a kind and that the connection and calm I feel in this place, I would not find anywhere else. I decided to start volunteering with the organization during my last two years of school, raising awareness among my fellow students about this unique environment. After graduating I started my studies on conservation in Vancouver in order to learn more about the complex ecosystem; the temperate rainforest. During this time I also had the opportunity be a part of two expeditions and experience how this place plays its magic on other students, much the same as it did with me. I am glad to be able to share these experiences and contribute to the conservation efforts with Wilderness International.
Brigitte Heyduck
Environmental education
Profession / Career
Diploma geographer focus ecology, university of Würzburg; Geography teacher at the school of the German Embassy in Beijing; Volunteering in conservation and environmental education
Why Wilderness International
Ever since my childhood, lusciously green and enchanted, vivid forests have been an essential haven for me. The even older and more diverse old growth forests of Canada’s west coast can be preserved forever through purchase. I would like to pass on my excitement about the diversity and beauty of this biotope to the next generation. Repeatedly inspiring in this is the exchange with First Nations, the dialogue of cultures.
Henriette Wessel
Coordination
Profession / Career
Environmental Ambassador 2014, two years of Federal Volunteer Service at Wilderness International after the Abitur High School Leaving Certificate, continuing work for WI
Why Wilderness International
Starting in 5th grade, I excitedly participated in the Walk for the Wild and carefully listened to the presentations about ancient giant forests. When later I read about the expedition to the Toba Valley, I realized that my chance had come to see and explore this amazing strange world with my own eyes. The people that I met on this trip and the adventures we had were so inspiring that I decided to do a Volunteer Gap Year for the organization before going to university, and I am already in my second volunteer year now. During this time, an extraordinary focus developed: the management of a culture and conservation expedition with German and Gwich’in First Nation Youth in the Canadian Western Arctic!
Tobias Hürten
Key Account Manager
Profession / Career
Environmental Ambassador 2014, two years of volunteering at Wilderness International after the Abitur High School Leaving Certificate, continuing work for WI
Why Wilderness International
When I was in 5th grade and heard about trees that are more than a hundred times older than us, I decided to take part in the Walk for the Wild. It felt good to be able to actively participate in the international and local protection of wilderness. Being able to go on an expedition to Western Canada in 11th grade was a crucial point in my life because I experienced the unique nature of the Toba Valley with all my senses. The wide, untouched wilderness there impressed me so much that I wanted to keep being involved in the foundation’s work. Organizing the Walks for the Wild and the Wilderness Team Challenges have allowed me to grow personally and realize new ideas. A second expedition to our protected wilderness areas and to the Western Arctic have once again shown me the importance of our work – and expanded my technical and cultural skills.
Ronny Scholz
Member of Board and Manager of WI’s office in Dresden, Photographer
Profession / Career
Since 2001: Assistent for Medical Technology; since 2008: Photographer, Voluntary Accompaniment of Projects
Why Wilderness International
Sustainable change is only possible from bottom to top and with personal conviction. That’s what I believe in. And that is what made me join Wilderness International as a volunteer 10 years ago. The conservation of nature is an essential attitude for every human. The protection of biodiversity and the fragile ecological balance, the preservation of traditional places of living that protect our climate as well as the culture of indigenous peoples, the conservation of habitats, the prevention of global migrations due to hunger and poverty, the reduction of carbon emissions – all this and even more is part of nature conservation. Allowing individuals to experience this and motivating them as well as companies to become active, is what I love about my work at WI. I started with networking and accompanying projects with students and youth. My medical condition gave me more time to think and made me realize what a treasure the family is, with all its resources and other gifts worthy of safeguarding. So meanwhile, I have become an expert in preservation and enjoy it a lot. Ever since I cannot work anymore, I focus the time at my hands on my tasks at WI. This allowed me to acquire large partners such as HEROLÉ Travels and to coordinate many other projects. This work has shown me what a structured approach on needs and processes on top of an honestly motivated communication for our goal can achieve. This is what I want to continue to do and consolidate. With transparency. With fun. With WI.