The WE Label has been developed to acknowledge exemplary management of European territories. It targets landowners and managers of such territories and encourages them to join the WE initiative to acquire recognition for their commitment to sustainable wildlife management.
All estates are welcome to apply. There are no restrictions in terms of hectares, location or activity. The only expectation is for applicant estates to have a uniform management on their territory.
The WE Label represents a voluntary commitment by land managers to work under the standards of wildlife management and conservation as it can deliver a wide range of social, economic and environmental public benefits. The WE Label communicates cost-effective ways to enhance biodiversity thanks to rigorously tested sustainable land management practices. It helps connect people with the land and its resources by supporting the provision of information and encouraging active engagement with the general public.
Labelled estates are committed to, and accredited for, promoting the best management and conservation practices, and are recognized as managing their wildlife resources sustainably in full consideration for the natural environment.
The WE Label provides a framework that facilitates development and implementation of new and innovative management techniques. WE enable its members to address and efficiently resolve conflicts in order to ensure an effective balance between voluntary actions, incentives, and regulation.
WE encourage communication between Wildlife Estate managers with the aim of sharing ideas and management strategies that help improve the standards substantially. The initiative seeks to reach a global agreement between managers of Wildlife Estates, to identify good practices, and promote innovative activities and techniques.
The activities of land managers, hunters and fishermen are under pressure. By adhering to the WE Label Commitments, they will be taking the necessary precautions to anticipate themselves from European legislation regarding the management of their land, as far as rural activities such as hunting, shooting, and fishing are concerned. Moreover, WE aim to anticipate new requirements in order to always be in line with the Birds and the Habitats Directives, which make up the Natura 2000.
Having acquired the WE Label, the member is invited to become a part of WE network. Each territory manager will then have access to relevant and up-to-date articles and documents and details of upcoming events through the WE Newsletter.
If you wish to apply for the WE Label, please contact your National Delegation or the European Secretariat, which will send you all the adequate forms and will be available for consultations. The contacts of the National Delegations are listed here.
General description of the application procedure and related information are provided below.
There are two levels to be completed by any participant before they can qualify for the WE Label:
The Charter must be acquired before the Label can be awarded.
Successful applicants will receive the WE Label, which will be reassessed after 5 years.
Level 1 gives access to the WE-Network. For that, you will have to sign the WE Charter, making a vow to follow the Ten Commitments laid in the document. In doing so, you commit to sustainable practices on your estate. These commitments are the founding principles of the WE Label philosophy.
By signing the Charter, the land owner/manager voluntarily commits to the sustainable management principles and gains access to the WE Label Network. This allows the members to join a community of individuals and estates committed to working for a sustainable countryside. Members of the network receive exclusive invitations to events where they are given the opportunity to exchange knowledge and experiences with other land managers throughout Europe.
After signing the WE Charter, candidates have 2 years to decide whether they want to proceed to apply for the WE Label.
In order to be considered for a WE Label, you will have to fill in a comprehensive application form. Applicants are assessed based on the information they provide by completing a WE Label Questionnaire (to access a sample application form, please click here), which has been developed based on a set of general and specific criteria adapted to each country and biogeographic region (see map below). This sort of adaptation is extremely important because each of these regions possesses a unique blend of vegetation, climate and geology.
The WE Questionnaire aims to collect all the relevant information about the property, economic activity, plans for improving the property and measures taken to enhance biodiversity.
Completed Questionnaires will be treated as confidential between the applicant and Wildlife Estates governance bodies.
Applicants are required to submit management plans of the activities carried out on the estate (i.e. agriculture, forestry, hunting) together with the Questionnaire.
The questionnaires differ from region to region. Therefore, if you wish to apply for the WE Label, please contact your National Delegation, which will send you all the adequate forms and will be available for consultations. The contacts of the National Delegations are listed here.
Upon completion, the questionnaire will be assessed according to the evaluation grid, comprised of 12 criteria that are embodied by the questionnaire. The evaluation is based on different aspects of economic activities, land management practices and their impact on nature and biodiversity:
Level of stillness/tranquillity/surveillance (30 points)
Existence of measures that help the sustainable balance between agriculture, sylviculture, cynegetic pisciculture/fishing (20 points)
Natural, semi-natural and intensive hunting or fishing grounds (40 points)
Conservation plans (30 points)
Biodiversity surface (30 points)
Prevention and accompanying measures offsetting extreme events – fires, floods, winter cover, cold spells (10 points)
Food availability (10 points)
Water availability (10 points)
Presence of restoration measures and improvements to habitat holding capacity for wildlife (20 points)
Presence of prey species (30 points)
Presence of valuable species of fauna (20 points)
Fauna-Wildlife balance (30 points)
Conservation of cultural and historic heritage (10 points)
Communication program (10 points)
Special attention is given to the “sustainable balance between economic activities on the territory” criterion, in which an applicant can receive up to 50 points. The criterion entitled “conservation and restoration plans, projects and measures” is also given priority to ensure the longevity of the imposed changes as it assesses the extent to which the estate activities are geared towards biodiversity enhancement.
As part of the assessment procedure, an expert will visit the estate. The evaluator will assess the applicant and award a score based on the aspects listed above.
The application must receive a minimum of 210 out of 300 points to be successful.
The national liaison office is responsible for evaluating the estates, and consequently will be responsible for providing a favourable or unfavourable judgment on an estate’s application. This judgment, with an attached report, will be sent to the International Jury which will ultimately be responsible for awarding the Label.
After the label has been acquired, it remains valid for a period of 5 years.
After assessment of the application, if an applicant does not achieve the minimum necessary points, the WE Evaluation Committee and the WE International Jury will indicate the sections where improvements could be made, and the applicant will be invited to reapply after having implemented the suggested recommendations.
It is important to stress the fact that this label is based on a voluntary commitment of land owners and managers, including the decision to follow or not to follow the recommendations of the WE Label Evaluation Committee.
Should there be a change in ownership or a significant change in management practices, the WE territory must notify the National WE Delegation, so it can update the information about the estate, and potentially reassess the validity of the Label depending on the newly applied practices.
In order to ensure and maintain the quality and credibility associated with the WE label, a revocation procedure for non-compliant estates is also set in place. In the case that a labelled estate is found to be repeatedly pursuing activities or management practices which clearly conflict with local legislation or the WE Commitments, the International Jury will have the authority to revoke the issued label. This drastic action will occur only after a formal warning and recommendations for improvement have been issued by the National Delegation.
Once awarded by the International Jury, the WE Label is valid for 5 years and is easily renewable. In the case of a change of owner or an important change in management the applicant must re-apply by filling in the application form and related documents again.