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How To Get The Youth Involved: The Story Of Let's Get Wild


The „Let’s get wild“ project is about wilderness project weeks in Austria´s secondary high schools. This wilderness school project will support the Austrian regional development plan by promoting the acceptance of national parks within the younger population. Through multimedia and interdisciplinary environmental education, the role of the Austrian National Parks in the protection and preservation of the natural, recreational value, biodiversity and climate protection is emphasized. Here, attention is drawn to the networking of valuable habitats by green corridors as well as the importance of Natura 2000 sites and wilderness in Austria’s national parks as well as the coexistence of humans and large carnivores. In addition to selected teaching methods and materials, school visits by our team, suggestion to visit the national parks, building a network, student representatives will take part as wilderness ambassador to a multi-day Austrian National Park wilderness camp. The project also involved multiday training opportunity for rangers of the Austrian National Parks.

Problem, challenge or context: 

The project is relevant to NBSAP as it draws the attention to the implementation of the Aichi target to create a network of effectively managed protected areas. The campaign's main focus is to strengthen the understanding of the diversity of habitats, the effects of climate change on biodiversity among youth. The main focus areas are the Austrian National Parks.

Specific elements of components: 

The main challenge addressed within the project is to improve the understanding of the role of large carnivores within the ecologically functioning protected areas with special attention to the cascade effects of carnivores. The project considered brown bear, wolf and Eurasian lynx as keystone species. In order to improve the awareness about their role, a special education programme was developed addressed to Austrian youth.

The action taken: 

  • Environmental education for students
  • Supporting regional development
  • Awareness of climate protection and Green Corridors
  • Increasing acceptance of the Austrian national park idea
  • Training of rangers, educational coordinators and lecturers
  • Promotion of wilderness and the wilderness idea
  • Thematic and physical integration of Natura 2000 areas and national parks in Austria
  • Mediation in the human co-existence with wolf, bear, lynx
  • Encouraging the youth to be interested in professions and studies concerning nature
Key lessons learned: 
  1. The youth groups are an open minded target audience which is very important in order to link the future of protected areas in Europe to the future generations and decision makers
  2. The utilisation of keystone species is a very powerful way to deliver our message about the importance of effective management of protected areas
  3.  @hen youth are involved the project must have a very concrete call to action which mobilises the creativity of young people
Impacts and outcomes: 

Special education material was developed for secondary, high school students in Austria. The pupils were also engaged in a competition aimed at developing multimedia presentations of their understanding of Austrian National Parks.

Contact details: 
Max Rossberg, Chairman, European Wilderness Society
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