Culture, Heritage and Diversity

European Diploma for Protected Areas

The European Diploma for Protected Areas is a prestigious international award granted since 1965 by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to natural and semi-natural areas and landscapes of exceptional European importance for the preservation of biological, geological and landscape diversity and managed in an exemplary way.

The Diploma is awarded to protected areas because of their outstanding scientific, cultural or aesthetic qualities, but they must also be the subject of a suitable conservation scheme.

Presentation of the European Diploma for Protected Areas (side event at the 32nd meeting of the Standing Committee to the Bern Convention)

Meetings & Visits
13 March 2015, Strasbourg (France)
Meeting of the Group of Specialists on the European Diploma for Protected Areas

24 March 2014, Strasbourg (France)
Meeting of the Group of Specialists on the European Diploma for Protected Areas

26 March 2013, Strasbourg (France)
Meeting of the Group of Specialists on the European Diploma for Protected Areas

9-10 February 2012, Strasbourg (France)
Meeting of the Group of Specialists on the European Diploma for Protected Areas

14-15 March 2011, Strasbourg (France)
Meeting of the Group of Specialists on the European Diploma for Protected Areas

04-05 March 2010, Strasbourg (France)
Meeting of the Group of Specialists on the European Diploma for Protected Areas

22-24 juillet 2010, République tchèque
Visite dans le Parc national de Sumava en Bohême [french only]

26 October 2007, Krimml (Austria)
40 years of European Diploma to the Krimml Falls

Why award a Diploma?
Europe’s biological and landscape diversity, or in other words the variety of its flora, fauna, ecosystems and landscapes, is one of European citizens greatest treasures. European nature is of an importance which extends well beyond the frontiers of the continent and forms a living bond between peoples. However, precious natural habitats and landscapes shaped by nature and the human hand are deteriorating and disappearing. Plant and animal species are endangered and so our common heritage is diminishing and is in danger of vanishing.

Who awards the Diploma?
Applications for the European Diploma are sent to the Council of Europe by the governments of the member States and submitted to a group of specialists which shall state whether it considers that the area in question is of exceptional European interest. If the interest has been sufficiently well established, an on-the-spot appraisal is decided. Following an on-the-spot expert appraisal, whose purpose is to examine in detail the characteristics of the area, the effectiveness of the protection measures, the management quality, the problems, the group of specialists decides whether to recommend that the Committee of Ministers should award the European Diploma to the area concerned. In most cases, the proposal to award the Diploma is accompanied by recommendations and, where appropriate, conditions to improve the management of the area or the system for protecting it.

Regular review
The Diploma has a unique supervisory mechanism. An annual report has to be sent to the Council of Europe by the authorities responsible for the management of each award-winning site. The Diploma is awarded for five years. It may be renewed for a period of 10 years, renewable for successive 10 year period. A new expert report aimed primarily at checking whether the requirements formulated when the Diploma was awarded have actually been fulfilled. In the event of a serious threat to an area or a substantial deterioration of the site, an exceptional appraisal may be conducted.

A stimulus and an inspiration
The award of the European Diploma provides an invaluable stimulus for the efficient protection and management of landscapes, reserves or natural monuments and sites with special European significance. In the European Diploma, the authorities responsible for protected areas have, under Council of Europe auspices, an international instrument capable of helping them in their task of management and protection. The unique nature of the Diploma also lies in the fact that it is awarded for a limited duration; the threat that it may be withdrawn has a deterrent effect in respect of dangers liable to cause harm to the area and acts as a stimulus for the preservation and improvement of the site.

Who has been awarded the European Diploma?
The European Diploma has been awarded to 73 areas spread across 28 European countries. Applications are received regularly from many European countries as interest grows in this prestigious international award.

The first areas to be awarded the Diploma were the Camargue National Reserve (France), the Peak District National Park (United Kingdom) and the Hautes Fagnes Nature Reserve (Belgium). The Diploma now covers a wide variety of geographical areas extending from the Fair Isle in the Shetlands north-east of Scotland to the Teberda National Park in the Russian Caucasus and from the Portuguese Salvage Islands off Madeira to the Kuscenneti Bird Reserve in Turkey.

Award winners include sites of widely differing size with a great variety of habitats. Examples are the Krimml Waterfalls in Austria, the peat bog area of the Wurzacher Ried Nature Reserve in Germany, the huge National Parks of Sarek and Padjelanta in Sweden, virgin forests such as the Bialowieza National Park in Poland, islands such as the Italian Montecristo Nature Reserve, the palaeontological site of Ipolytarnóc in Hungary, the wetlands of the Doñana National Park in Spain, and high mountain landscapes such as the Ecrins National Park in France.

What rules govern the award of the Diploma for Protected Areas?
The European Diploma was created in 1965 by Resolution (65) 6 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The Regulations for its award and appraisal were adopted in 1973 (Resolution 73/4) and amended later. The Regulations of the European Diploma for Protected Areas are now contained in Resolution CM/ResDip(2008)1, adopted on 20 February 2008.

The network of managers of the European Diploma for Protected Areas
The managers of the various award-winning areas of Europe meet regularly at colloquies held by the Council of Europe. Over the years this has given rise to a veritable international co-operation network. The network of managers is an invaluable asset for the preservation of biological and landscape diversity in Europe and an effective means of promoting the principles upheld by the Council of Europe to protect Europe’s natural heritage.

The Diploma provides a recognised standard for the conservation of the heritage and the promotion of models of sustainable development. It brings together many samples of the extraordinary diversity of Europe’s natural and cultural heritage and a material significance in that it helps to promote work to protect nature in all the countries where the protected areas are located. It also provides a tangible opportunity for the managers of these areas to exchange views and pool experiences.

Joint EU/CoE Projects
Calendar of meetings 2015

50th Anniversary of the European Diploma for Protected Areas - 13 March 2015 - Strasbourg (France)

Official awarding ceremony of the European Diploma to the Desertas Nature Reserve (Portugal) - Press release

Group of Specialists on the European Diploma - 13 March 2015, Strasbourg (France)

Useful links
+33 390 21 43 98
+33 388 41 23 02