Wilderness Protection in Europe and the Relevance of the World Heritage Convention

Simon Marsden

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    1 Citation (Scopus)


    I shall attempt the vain task of conveying the feeling I experienced at the sight of this solitary harbour, placed at the ends of the earth, and enclosed so perfectly that one could think of it as separated from the rest of the universe. Here one meets at every step […] trees of enormous height and corresponding width […] crowned with foliage always green: some appear as old as the world; so interlaced and compacted as to be impenetrable […]. Nature in all its vigour […] seems to offer the imagination something more imposing and more vivid than the sight of the same nature embellished by industry and by civilised man; wanting to conserve only beauty, he has destroyed the charm; he has removed the unique character, that of being always ancient and always new. Introduction Typical prosaic portrayal of wilderness, as identified by early European exploration of the New World (above), has been replaced by scientific description potentially capable of legal review. The World Heritage Convention (the Convention) follows this path. What role does it play in the recognition and protection of wilderness in Europe? As a longstanding and much applied international treaty, it has been subject to considerable and significant scholarly and jurisprudential inquiry. As it is equally concerned with cultural and natural properties its objective is not specifically the protection of wilderness; however the objective of this chapter is to show that it has undoubtedly made a contribution to it. Furthermore, with an approach based on ‘outstanding universal value’ (OUV) and an emphasis on the ‘integrity’ of listed sites, the chapter will show that it is also able to raise awareness of, and provide a framework for the protection of, some of the premier national and transboundary wilderness areas in Europe. In order to answer the question fully, the chapter begins by providing an overview of the Convention (Section 2), before examining its relevance to wilderness protection with reference to the three wilderness qualities (Section 3). These demonstrate the approach to scientific description of wilderness which is outlined in Chapter 1, and which frames the legal analysis for this book.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationWilderness Protection in Europe
    Subtitle of host publicationThe Role of International, European and National Law
    PublisherCambridge University Press
    Number of pages23
    ISBN (Electronic)9781107415287
    ISBN (Print)9781107057890
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


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