Biological diversity


Wild flora and fauna play an essential role in maintaining biological balance and providing ecosystem services which contribute to human well-being. Nature is the foundation for the quality of our life and constitutes a natural heritage of cultural, scientific and recreational importance. However, European biodiversity loss is increasing every year. The more we lose biodiversity, the more ecosystems are put at risk. Political commitment at international level is vital to support effective biodiversity management.

The Council of Europe has pioneered such international framework cooperation. In the late 1970s the Council of Europe negotiated the "Bern Convention".  It is the short and informal name given to the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, signed in the capital of Switzerland in September 1979. In force since 1982, the Bern Convention has a large and diverse membership, extending from Iceland to Azerbaijan, comprising 50 contracting parties, including the European Union.

The Council of Europe has been actively involved with biodiversity conservation for thirty years. By its actions, the Council of Europe has helped to shape an adequate legal environment in Europe in favour of biodiversity. The Bern Convention has produced extensive guidance and standards under different forms: many species actions plans, strategies, over 150 recommendations and resolutions which help countries improve national policies and preserve their natural heritage.


© René Rosoux

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Bern ConventionNature protection: Bern Convention

The Bern Convention is a binding international legal instrument in the field of nature conservation, which covers most of the natural heritage of the European continent and extends to some African countries. Its aims are to conserve wild flora and fauna and their natural habitats and to promote European co-operation in that field. (more...)

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EU - CoE Joint Programme 

Joint Programme "Support for the implementation of the Convention on biological diversity programme of work on protected areas in the EU Neighbourhood policy East area and Russia: extension of the implementation of the EU’s NATURA 2000 principles through the Emerald Network". (more...)

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European Diploma of Protected Areas

European Diploma of Protected Areas

The European Diploma of Protected Areas is a prestigious international award granted since 1965 by the Council of Europe. The Diploma is awarded to protected areas for their outstanding scientific, cultural or aesthetic qualities and their European importance for the preservation of biological, geological and landscape diversity. (more...)

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Ecological Networks Ecological Networks

The preservation and ecological restoration of the green heart of Europe is regarded by the Council of Europe as a contribution to the setting-up of a coherent spatial structure and the maintenance of ecological processes and services. (more...)

International Day for Biological Diversity - 22 May


2012 has been proclaimed the year of Marine biodiversity.

The Council of Europe celebrates the International Day for Biological Diversity and joins the global efforts to preserve marine biodiversity.