The pace of biodiversity
decline is quickening worldwide. Habitat break-up, pollution,
over-use of natural areas and the creation of artificial landscapes
increase the rate of erosion, while reducing species' opportunity
for migration, dispersion and exchange. How and by what means
can this situation be put right?
In 1995, the European Ministers of the Environment meeting in
Sofia, launched the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity
Strategy (PEBLDS), so as to strengthen environment and biodiversity
conservation policies. They called “for the promotion of nature
protection, both inside and outside protected areas, by implementing
the European Ecological Network, a physical network of core
areas and other appropriate measures, linked by corridors and
supported by buffer zones, thus facilitating the dispersal and
migration of species” (PEBLDS).
The setting up of a Pan-European Ecological Network covering
Eurasia was one of the key steps taken under the Strategy. Work
has continued on this project, and it is now based on the numerous
national, regional and trans-regional ecological networks being
set up throughout Europe.
Ecological networks can positively influence the conditions
for the survival of species populations in the fragmented natural
areas and human dominated landscapes in Europe. In addition,
they allow a suitable and sustainable use of natural resources
through the interconnectivity of their physical elements with
the landscape and existing social/institutional structures.
The preservation and ecological restoration of the green heart
of Europe is contemplated 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.
Group of Experts on Protected
Areas and Ecological Networks
At its 28th meeting, the Standing Committee to the Bern Convention
decided to enlarge the mandate of the Group of Experts for
the setting up of the Emerald Network by including in its
terms of reference all the activities of the Convention related
to protected areas and ecological networks. The newly established
Group of Experts on Protected Areas and Ecological Networks
has therefore held its first meeting in 2009. The inclusion
of protected areas in the mandate of the Group aims to reinforce
the contribution of the Council of Europe to the Convention
on Biological Diversity’s Programme of Work on the topic.
Today, the Group of Experts on Protected Areas and Ecological
Networks continues to do the necessary work to implement Recommendation
No. 16 (1989) of the Standing Committee on Areas of Special
Conservation Interest (ASCI), by providing guidance on the setting-up
of the Emerald Network. In addition, the Group follows closely,
debates and makes proposals on the implementation at national
level of the Pan-European Ecological Network (PEEN). The final
aim of the Group is to present to the Standing Committee specific
proposals and/or Recommendations to help Parties progress further
in the implementation of both the Emerald Network and PEEN,
as well as improve their contribution to the conservation of
threatened species and habits from the Bern Conventions lists.
The Group will hold its 5th meeting on 18-19 September 2013.
Report of the 4th meeting of the Group of Experts -
Report of the 3rd meeting of the Group of Experts -
Report of the 2nd meeting of the Group of Experts -
Report of the 1st meeting of the Group of Experts -
Network is an ecological network made up of Areas of Special Conservation
Interest”, which was launched by the Council of Europe as part of
its work under the Bern Convention. Before being officially
adopted as Emerald sites, all sites proposed to joint the
Network are thoroughly assessed at biogeographical level for
their sufficiency to achieve the ultimate objective of the
Network. This objective is the long term survival of the species
and habitats of the Bern Convention requiring specific site
protection measures. These habitats and species are listed
respectively in Resolution 4 (1996) and Resolution 6 (1998) of
the Standing Committee to the Bern Convention. Once the areas
proposed are officially adopted as Emerald Network sites, they
have to be designated and managed at national level. The
national designation and management measures are decided and put
in place to contribute to the main objective of the Network and
their efficiency will be regularly monitored.
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 (Tunisia, Morocco, Senegal and Burkina
Faso are Contracting Parties; Algeria, Cape Verde, and Mauritania
have been invited to accede).
The European Union, as such, is also a Contracting Party to
the Bern Convention. In order to fulfil 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. In practice, the setting-up of the Emerald Network is based on the
same principles as Natura 2000, and represents its de facto extension
to non-Community countries.
More information on the Emerald Network constitution process
and activities can be found
framework of the Pan-European
Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy
, the Pan-European
Ecological Network (PEEN) aims to ensure that a full range of
ecosystems, habitats, species and landscapes of European importance
is conserved; habitats are large enough to place species in
a favourable conservation status; there are sufficient opportunities
for the dispersal and migration of species; damaged parts of
the key environmental systems are restored; the key environmental
systems are buffered from potential threats.
The originality of this network is that it intends to link core
areas physically through the restoration or preservation of