National Wilderness Inventory

Australia: Our national stories
Australian Heritage Commission, 2003
ISBN 0 642 23561 9

5. Using the Wilderness Database (continued)

5.4 Wilderness Area Designation

The decision as to whether an area should be designated for protection and managed as wilderness ultimately rests upon whether its remote and natural characteristics are sufficiently valued. Determining this involves an assessment of the comparative value of the wilderness quality in a particular location, as well as weighing up the social worth of competing land use claims. Wilderness quality indices cannot be used on their own to identify areas worthy of conservation as wilderness, although many NWI procedures can be usefully employed.

Wilderness indices can readily identify places which reach critical thresholds for remoteness and naturalness. These places will almost certainly be of conservation significance for that reason alone.

NWI techniques also enable the introduction of other information which can give these indices contextual meaning. Areas with lesser measures of wilderness quality may still be of significance as remote and natural environments when other environmental and land use demand factors are considered. The delimitation of management boundaries for any particular place selected for wilderness protection is a separate question. Placing a wilderness management boundary around a location of high wilderness quality, and ensuring no wilderness degrading activities or influences take place within, will not ensure the protection of high wilderness quality. A development in lesser quality wilderness on the margin of anarea of higher quality wilderness will, for instance, reduce wilderness quality within the higher quality area.

Areas of lower quality wilderness which fringe areas of high quality are important in maintaining these higher quality areas. In order to ensure protection of wilderness quality wilderness management boundaries should include all marginal areas.