Bern Convention & Emerald Network

Bern Convention

Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural habitats

The Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural habitats was set up to conserve wild flora and fauna as well as protecting their habitats. Created in 1979 and ratified in 1982, it is one of the oldest agreements for the protection of nature and the only regional Convention of its kind, seeking to foster European co-operation in this field.

How the Bern Convention works with EUROPARC

EUROPARC has International NGO observer status under the terms of the Bern Convention and attends the Group of Expert meetings.

  • The Convention has a Standing Committee composed of representatives of the Parties and has its Secretariat within the Council of Europe.
  • The Committee monitors the provisions of this Convention making recommendations and amendments to the appendices where these protected species are specified.
  • Additional work is undertaken with the input of the relevant Groups of Experts set up under the Convention, the group itself has a number of working groups within it.

Added value of the Bern Convention

The Parties under the convention – 50 countries and the European Union – recognise the intrinsic value of nature, which needs to be preserved and passed to future generations.

In short, they:

  • seek to ensure the conservation of nature in their countries, paying particular attention to planning and development policies and pollution control.
  • look at implementing the Bern Convention in central Eastern Europe and the Caucus.
  • take account of the potential impact on natural heritage by other policies.
  • promote education and information of the public, ensuring the need to conserve species is understood and acted upon.
  • develop an extensive number of species action plans, codes of conducts, and guidelines, at their own initiative or in co-operation with other organisations.
  • created the Emerald Network, an ecological network made up of Areas of Special Conservation Interest.

Emerald Network & Natura 2000

Setting up the Emerald Network at national level is considered one of the main tools for the Contracting Parties to comply with their obligations under the Bern Convention. Before being officially adopted as an Emerald site, the area proposed is thoroughly assessed at biogeographical level and once agreed the sites are regularly monitored: Can the site contribute to the long term survival of the species and habitats of the Bern Convention?

  • The Network is to be set up in each Contracting Party or observer state to the Convention. It thus involves all the European Union states, some non-Community states and a number of African states.
  • The European Union, as such, is also a Contracting Party to the Bern Convention. In order to fulfill its obligations arising from the Convention, particularly in respect of habitat protection, it produced the Habitats Directive in 1992, and subsequently set up the Natura 2000 network.

The Natura 2000 sites are therefore considered as the contribution from the EU member states to the Emerald Network.

More input on the Bern Convention and Emerald Network can be found on the Council’s dedicated webpage.