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Anchorage hosting 8th World Wilderness Congress: the World Wilderness Congress was initiated by the WILD Foundation in 1977 and officials say it is the longest-running, public, international environmental forum.

This month, Anchorage hosts a conference expected to include 1,000 delegates from more than 40 nations around the world, all gathering to consider the challenges facing the planet's wilderness, wildlands and marine resources but focusing on those of Alaska, Siberia, Canada and the North Pacific.

The 8th World Wilderness Congress is scheduled to begin Sept. 30 and run through Oct. 6, with associated events taking place in Kamchatka and the Russian Far East. The WWC convenes every three to four years somewhere around the globe; previous meeting locations include South Africa, Australia, Scotland, Norway and India. With more than 25 years of history, the WWC has become a high-profile platform for debates about wilderness and wildland issues.

"It should be a big event for Anchorage," said Marilyn Sigman of the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies in Homer. The center is a nonprofit organization trying to foster responsible interaction with wilderness and generating knowledge of the marine and coastal ecosystems of Kachemak Bay through education, research and stewardship programs. About 6,000 students and tourists visit the center each year, she said. The center will be taking part in the congress, offering presentations about Alaska's coastal situations and marine resources.

The World Wilderness Congress was initiated by The WILD Foundation in 1977 and officials say it is the longest-running, public, international environmental forum. It includes senior representation from governments, the private sector, Native peoples, non-governmental agencies and academia, with the stated purpose of bringing together a full spectrum of views.

The theme of the 8th WWC is Wilderness, Wildlands and People--A Partnership for the Planet. According to organizers, "This congress will generate the most up-to-date and accurate information on the benefits of wilderness and wildlands to contemporary and traditional societies, and will review the best models for balancing wilderness and wildlands conservation with human needs."

Organizers have divided the 8th WWC into two components: a pre-congress training session Sept. 25 to 29, and the main program, Sept. 30 to Oct. 6. The main program includes the global wilderness forum (plenary sessions Sept. 30 to Oct. 1), and the wilderness working sessions (morning plenary and afternoon concurrent sessions Oct. 3 to Oct. 6). The main program is divided into four major symposium areas: science and stewardship, the wild planet project, culture and conservation, and youth and young professionals. All plenary sessions are held in the William A. Egan Civic & Convention Center. Concurrent sessions are held in the Egan Center and in participating hotels spread throughout downtown Anchorage. All sessions are within five minutes walking distance of each other.

Interspersed in the schedule are presentations of technical papers and panels, training programs, workshops and the evenings will include cultural events and entertainment from Alaska and around the world. There also will be an environmental film festival, musical stories and traditional dance presentations.

WWC officials are asking interested members of the Alaska public to register for the conference in advance of attending.

A comprehensive schedule of the training sessions, workshops and presentation is available on the 8th World Wilderness Congress' Web site at It also features a page for registrations, maps of the locations of scheduled events, hotels taking part and tours coinciding with the conference.
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Author:Pilkington, Steve
Publication:Alaska Business Monthly
Geographic Code:1U9AK
Date:Sep 1, 2005
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