Pan Parks Vision

What are PAN Parks?

Rushing wild rivers, ancient forests, towering mountains; in Europe, there is a jungle. Indeed there are many. Bears, wolves, eagles, and bison live in these jungles, Europe’s national parks. And yet, most Europeans are unaware of all but a few well-known forests and mountain ranges. The lack of awareness is reflected in a lack of investment, institutional resources, and pride in these jewels of nature.

But these jungles are ours, and they must be preserved. WWF, the conservation organization, in partnership with the Dutch leisure company Molecaten, has founded PAN (Protected Area Network) Parks. This initiative brings all stakeholders of Europe’s wilderness areas together. It employs a comprehensive approach to meet Europe’s protected areas’ complex ecological and social needs.

The PAN Parks logo represents a reliable and respected conservation management and sustainable development trademark. It is a trademark for outstanding nature and high-quality tourism facilities, well balanced with the needs of wilderness protection and community development.

Guaranteed nature protection for Europe’s natural capital
Why is there a need for PAN Parks? Because we are at risk of losing our most valuable natural heritage. and the average European is not aware of this fact. PAN Parks wishes to reverse this trend before it is too late, so to guarantee preservation of Europe’s natural heritage for the enjoyment of future generations.

PAN Parks is a concrete tool to improve nature protection

The idea is simple and exciting: to introduce a marriage between nature conservation and tourism on a European scale. In other words, the initiative aims to put economic value into European nature, thereby offering a means of protection. PAN Parks aims to create economic incentives for conservation of nature by changing tourism from a threat into an opportunity by building partnerships with nature conservation organisations, national parks, tourism businesses, local communities, and other interest groups on a local, national and international level.
The PAN Parks concept provides a nature conservation based response to the growing market for nature-oriented tourism.

The quality PAN Parks brand stands for:

  • an expanding network of well-managed protected areas with high conservation value;
  • areas which are widely known by Europeans as natural capitals of our continent, which they know and are proud of;
  • ‘must see’ sites for tourists and wildlife lovers representing responsible, high quality nature-based experiences for visitors;
  • wider public and political support for protected areas through changing attitudes and stimulating their economic value;
  • new income for parks, and in particular, new employment opportunities for people in rural areas.

Pan Parks Mission

PAN Parks Foundation cooperates with protected area management and sustainable tourism businesses to make it possible for people to support, preserve, and enjoy Europe’s wilderness!

Wilderness concept

To see primeval forests or mountains where wolf, lynx, or brown bear still roam freely you do not need to travel to very distant places – yet. It is enough to visit one of the Certified PAN Parks in Europe.

What is PAN Parks wilderness?
Wilderness has been defined as a major component for PAN Parks. PAN Parks wilderness is a large area of land, (at least 10,000 hectares) which, together with its native plant and animal communities and the ecosystems of which they are a part, is in an essentially natural state. PAN Parks wilderness areas are that lands that have been least modified by man, they represent the most intact and an undisturbed expanse of Europe’s remaining natural landscapes.

Why to have wilderness areas?
They greatly contribute to the conservation of biodiversity helping to protect rare plant and animal species from extinction or endangerment. Furthermore, wilderness provides us with a number of vital environmental services such as clean air, water.
Finally, these areas offer visitors an extraordinary experience of nature.

On the long run, with increasing numbers of PAN Parks there will be ever-more opportunities for wilderness tourists, more understanding and hopefully more love for wilderness. With more wilderness lovers, we all become stronger and more effective in our task to protect European wilderness heritage.

Wilderness zones in PAN Parks
The hectares and percentages below show the size of the first European certified wilderness areas, the contribution of each park management to the concept of European Wilderness:

Bieszczady National Park
size 29,202 ha – wilderness/core 18,425 ha
63,1 %

Fulufjället National Park
size 38,414 ha – wilderness/core 23,048 ha
60,00 %

Oulanka National Park
size 27,720 ha – wilderness/core 10,000 ha,
36,07 %

Central Balkan National Park
size 71,669 ha – wilderness/core 21,019 ha

Retezat National Park
size 38,138 ha – wilderness/core 14,215 ha