YOUTH WILDERNESS AMBASSADOR PROGRAM
„The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.” – John Muir
Hello and welcome to the “Youth Wilderness Ambassadors” program, in short YWA! On this page you will find more information about who we are, what we stand for and why we started this program.
© WWF Austria / Elisabeth Schwarzkogler
WE ANSWER THE CALL OF THE WILD
“We” – that is a colourful bunch of motivated people, some of whom have known each other for years or have only met virtually. But there is one thing we all truly share: a deep connection to the wilderness and a burning passion to get active for it. The idea of the “Youth Wilderness Ambassadors” program (YWA) was born with the aim of bringing young adults into the wilderness and implementing projects together to preserve the last remaining nearly untouched areas in Austria.
If you have any questions or want to participate, the team is looking forward to your message here. Learn more about the team members down below.
DOES WILDERNESS STILL EXIST?
About 7% of Austria’s land area can be described as largely untouched, or “very natural”. These areas with wilderness potential, which cover a total of 5,900 km², contrast with the 41% of very strongly changed landscape, which is made up of urban, agricultural and industrial areas. Today, wilderness in Austria is mainly found in the high mountains, where extraordinary habitats such as glaciers, rocks, alpine grasslands, dwarf shrub heaths, mountain pines and green alder bushes could develop for a long time without major disturbances and also partly in harmony with gentle cultivation. But instead of protecting these unique and valuable areas, large, destructive and far too often unnecessary construction projects threaten the local biodiversity.
We say: Enough is enough! That beeing said, we want to give the wilderness a voice. A voice that tells of the incredible diversity our homeland has to offer. Of stories about nativeness and idyllic seclusion… and about those rare places that are still allowed to be wild.
The wilderness calls for us – and we must go!
THIS IS WHAT WE STAND FOR
We define wilderness for us as nature that is not or hardly influenced by humans and where, due to the size of the area and the fact that we leave it to its own devices, natural processes can take place largely undisturbed. Such areas should be protected because of the integrity of the landscape and the predominant species composition and should be accessible to visitors in a soft and gentle way. If you want to learn more about our native wilderness, take a look at the WWF’s Book of Wilderness.
CALL OF THE WILD
Have you always dreamed of somehow changing the world? Would you like to protect the last, almost untouched areas of Austria together with a colourful bunch of motivated people? Are you ready for a wild adventure? Then pack your backpack and follow the call of the wilderness with us! The course consists of 4 trainings and will start in July 2020. Besides strengthening our own connection to nature, we will learn how to set up our own wilderness project and light a fire in other people. Click here to learn more!
In July 2019, 18 young people from all over Austria set out to discover the native wilderness. Together with the biologist and wilderness guide Bernd Pfleger they spent four days in the Styrian seclusion and learned how it sounds when the wilderness is calling. The group learned a bunch of survival tips for example how to find your way home with the help of the starry sky. You want to know more about the first project of the Youth Wilderness Ambassadors? Then take a look at the adventures we had at the Liezener Hut.
MEET THE TEAM
I study environmental, process and energy engineering at the Management Center Innsbruck (MCI). There I am also actively involved in the student representation of the “MCI”. For several years now I have been active in wilderness conservation, which is a special concern of mine, as I grew up in the middle of the Hohe Tauern National Park and therefore know untouched nature as it should be. At the same time, I have also witnessed how ski tourism has “swallowed” the Kitzbuehler Alps bit by bit. For this reason, I am particularly interested in the economic context and conflicts of interest surrounding the protection of wilderness areas.Florian Wieser
Although I was born into a big city jungle, the wilderness has always fascinated me. After my voluntary ecological year, I started studying landscape planning at BOKU in 2013 and work on various environmental issues in my spare time. Today I am part of several national and international youth networks, was at the UN Climate Conference (COP25) as an activist, am studying wildlife ecology for my Master’s degree and work at the Ottakringer Brewery, where I like to tell people a lot about the history of beer (and how to drink it properly 😉 ). It doesn’t matter whether I spend 5 minutes or five hours outdoors, everytime I return from the forest I know anew why I do what I do. Since three years now, my dog Marley has accompanied me on every adventure and taught me to discover the world from a completely different perspective. I’m quite good with people, although I often don’t really understand them, I’m actually always ready for a good laugh and am relatively good at passing on my spartan knowledge in an exciting way.Ariane Wrumnig
In 2011 I did my first trekking tour with some friends from Generation Earth. Actually it was a four week trek through the most breathtaking and wildest areas of Austria. It was the beginning of several thousand kilometres that I have since covered on foot, always in search of the most untouched wilderness possible. I also began to move more into wilderness schools, where I completed several training courses and volunteered to help out. After studying physics for some time, I now lead groups of adventurers to the most remote areas of Europe and give workshops on rhetoric.Moritz Schachner