The Bern Convention: 30 Years of Nature Conservation in Europe

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Abstract

The Council of Europe's Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats is a binding international treaty in the field of nature conservation aimed at the protection of the natural heritage in the European continent. The Bern Convention aims to conserve Europe's wild flora and fauna and their natural habitats. It was an innovative biodiversity convention at the time of its birth, over 30 years ago, through its approach to protect both species and habitats. The treaty also takes account of the impact that other policies may have on natural heritage and it recognizes the intrinsic value of wild flora and fauna, which needs to be preserved and passed to future generations. The convention has produced extensive guidance and standards, including species actions plans, strategies, and over 140 recommendations and resolutions to help countries improve their national policies on nature conservation. The Bern Convention has combined concrete and practical action on the conservation and management of key species and sites with more strategic and forward-looking instruments on complex issues, long before they were subject to legislation, like invasive alien species or biodiversity adaptation to climate change. This work on current and relevant issues, developed in partnership and cooperation with other biodiversity conventions, the scientific community and non-governmental organizations, is one of the convention's strengths that has continued to motivate European countries to join and support this multilateral environmental agreement.

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