Culture, Heritage and Diversity

Ecological Networks

Joint Council of Europe / European Union Programme

"Emerald Network of Nature Protection Sites, Phase II"


The Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats sets out to conserve wild flora and fauna and their natural habitats, to promote cooperation between states, to monitor and control endangered and vulnerable species, and to provide assistance on legal and scientific issues. The Emerald Network of Areas of Special Conservation Interest, launched by the Council of Europe in the framework of the Bern Convention is an initiative equivalent to the EU Natura 2000 Network, although targeting EU neighbouring countries which are Member States to the Council of Europe.

Both the Bern Convention and the EU Habitats and Birds Directives are international legal instruments aimed at the conservation of wild flora, fauna and natural habitats. Their main differences come from the territory they apply to (European Union Member States for the Directives and the whole of Europe and part of Africa for the Convention) and to the legal approach they are built on (hard legislative approach for the EU Directives and soft law approach for the Bern Convention).

The implementation of the Emerald Network represents a tool for preparing the target countries to comply with internationally agreed commitments, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Bern Convention, and the Habitats Directive. The cooperation between the Council of Europe and the European Union on the setting-up of the Emerald Network is therefore the logical consequence of their common commitment towards the protection of biodiversity.

Project objectives and expected results
The current project follows-up on the work achieved in the frame of a previous Joint EU/CoE Programme, implemented in the period 2009-2011. It targets seven countries from Central and Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation and Ukraine) and focuses on Phase II of the Emerald Network constitution process.

In the previous project (Phase I of the Emerald Network constitution process), the same seven target countries achieved to identify a total of approximately 1000 areas on their territories, covering more than 35 000 km2, which are potential Emerald sites. The Standing Committee to the Bern Convention officially recognised these site proposals by nominating them as candidate Emerald sites at its 32nd meeting in December 2012. As foreseen in the Emerald Network Calendar 2011-2020, in the course of the current project, these areas will be completed with additional ones and their sufficiency to ensure the long term survival of the threatened species and habitats of European importance will be scientifically assessed. More information on the 1st Emerald Network Joint EU/CoE project can be found here.

The project overall goal is improved biodiversity protection - especially the long-term survival of threatened species and habitats of European importance - through the setting-up of Emerald sites in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine. The project will be implemented for 4 years, covering the period October 2012 - October 2016.

Specifically, the Joint Programme aims at:
Facilitating the identification of additional potential Emerald sites in all seven target countries
Assessing all potential Emerald sites in all target countries (identified through the 1st and the current project) for their sufficiency to ensure the long-term survival of the Bern Convention species and habitats
Support the target countries in the implementation of their obligations under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, especially the “Aichi” headline target 11 on protected areas
Help the harmonisation of the target countries nature protection standards with the Bern Convention and EU ones, in view of completing the establishment of a pan-European ecological network of protected sites by 2020

For more information on the project background and objectives, please consult the project description here.

Project activities
Various activities are going to take place during the course of the project. Information on these activities will be regularly be uploaded on this webpage. The project lifespan planning, including activities for 2013, can be consulted here.

24-26 April 2013: the regional Kick-off meeting of the project gathering representatives from the national authorities, NGOs and academia from all target countries will take place in Kiev.

Project target countries
Republic of Armenia

Republic of Azerbaijan

Republic of Belarus


Republic of Moldova

Russian Federation



Useful links
Emerald Network Leaflet:
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   Georgian | Russian
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