Culture, Heritage and Diversity

Emerald Network constitution process

In June 1989 the Standing Committee to the Bern Convention held an extraordinary meeting exclusively devoted to habitat conservation within the Convention. At the meeting the Committee adopted an interpretative resolution [Resolution No. 1 (1989) on the provisions relating to the conservation of habitats] and three operative recommendations [Recommendations Nos. 14, 15 and 16 (1989)] aimed at the development of a network of areas under the Convention.

A further recommendation [Recommendation No. 25 (1991) on the conservation of natural areas outside protected areas proper] was adopted at a later meeting of the Committee. In Recommendation No. 16 (1989) "on Areas of Special Conservation Interest" (ASCIs), the Standing Committee recommended Parties to "take steps to designate Areas of Special Conservation Interest to ensure that the necessary and appropriate conservation measures are taken for each area situated within their territory or under their responsibility where that area fits one or several of the following conditions...".

Envisaged as early as 1989, the Emerald Network was given practical form in 1996 by the Standing Committee to the Bern Convention with a view to supplementing the Natura 2000 Network, on a similar basis, in non-Community countries, based on the highest possible methodological synergy. As well as helping to identify and conserve core areas of the Pan-European Ecological Network, the Emerald Network, also facilitates the establishment of national networks of protected areas. As the European Union is also a Contracting Party to the Bern Convention, Natura 2000 is considered to be the EU contribution to the Emerald Network.

In December 2010, an Emerald Network Calendar (2011-2020) was adopted by the Standing Committee to the Bern Convention. This document includes clear milestones and timeframes for the different countries working on the Network setting-up process, committing them officially to the finalisation and completion of the Network establishment. According to the Calendar, the Emerald Network setting-up should be completed by 2020 and management and conservation measures put in place in most of the countries. For more information, please consult the Emerald Calendar itself:

Calendar for the implementation of the Emerald Network of Areas of Special Conservation Interest (2011-2020)

Constitution process of the Emerald Network
The Emerald Network constitution process consists of three different stages or “Phases” of implementation:
  • Phase I: Participating countries assess their natural resources and identify species and habitats to be protected according to the relevant resolutions of the Bern Convention. They subsequently select potential sites which are suitable for ensuring the long-term survival of the “Emerald” species and habitats and they send a database containing scientific information on the proposed sites to the Bern Convention’s Secretariat. The proposed sites can be officially nominated candidate Emerald sites by the Standing Committee, as provided for in Recommendation No. 157 (2011) on the status of candidate Emerald sites and guidelines on the criteria for their nomination.
  • Phase II: An evaluation of the efficiency of the proposed sites is done on a species by species and habitat by habitat base for each biogeographical region. Once the scientific value of the proposed sites is assessed, the candidate Emerald sites are submitted to the Standing Committee and will eventually be approved so to formally integrate the Emerald Network.
  • Phase III: Consists of the national designation of the adopted ASCI’s and the implementation of management, reporting and monitoring measures, under the responsibility of national authorities.

Emerald Network Reference Portal
A Reference Portal for the Emerald Network was created to support the practical work of Contracting Parties on the setting-up of the Network. The Portal gathers all reference documents (adopted at the level of the Standing Committee to the Bern Convention) and other support materials (such as guidelines and user Manuals, complementary to the Emerald Standard Data Form), useful for the practical implementation of the Network at national level. The Portal is the main information point for national experts on the technical and administrative procedures for Emerald data submission to the Council of Europe and the Central Data Depository of the European Environment Agency.

Emerald Network reference portal

National activities on the setting-up of the Emerald Network
The Emerald Network is currently in its implementation phase. Through the '90 and '2000, the Council of Europe supported the implementation of the Emerald Network in the newest EU Member States, which jointed the Union in 2004 and 2007. An extensive programme of national projects was set up with a view to developing a database including selected areas representative of the habitat types and species from the Bern Convention lists found in each country. These national projects also included the establishment and appointment of national multidisciplinary teams bringing together various scientific institutions in the countries concerned. This work has greatly contributed to prepare these countries for their EU accession.

Information on the pilot projects implemented in various Contracting Parties for the setting-up of the Emerald Network

The Council of Europe supports the setting-up of the Emerald Network in countries outside the EU, continuing to help the pre-accession efforts in the field of nature conservation of countries from South-Eastern Europe and the West Balkans. An Emerald Network development programme was implemented in 2005/2006 in the region, as a continuation of the initial pilot projects implemented by the Council of Europe in the beginning of the '2000. This CARDS/Emerald programme concerned the following countries: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, “the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and Serbia. The programme benefited from a financial and technical contribution of the European Environmental Agency and represented an important tool contributing to preparing the countries concerned for the future work on Natura 2000 and for advance compliance with the Habitats and Birds Directives. A first Emerald biogeographical Seminar was held for these six countries in November 2011, thus being the first Emerald biogeographical Seminar ever to take place.

2005-2008: Final report of the CARDS programme in South-East Europe

Efforts are currently deployed on the setting-up of the Emerald Network in Central and Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus. After the successful implementation of a first Joint Programme on the Emerald Network for seven countries from this region, in the period 2009-2011, a second project of that nature was launched in October 2012 for the same seven countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation and Ukraine. While the first project aimed to identify and describe the areas in the countries suitable to be included in the Emerald Network, the second project, to be implemented in the period 2012-2016, focuses on Phase II of the Emerald Network constitution process.

Learn more on the 1st EU/CoE Joint Programme on the Emerlad Network in Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus (2009-2011) 

Learn more on the current 2nd EU/CoE Joint Programme on the Emerlad Network in Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus (2012-2016)

Aichi Target 12
Useful links
Leaflet on the Emerald network EU/CoE Joint Project:
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