Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention)

The Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (the Bern Convention) was adopted in Bern, Switzerland in 1979, and came into force in 1982.

Objectives and approach

The aims of the Convention are "to conserve wild flora and fauna and their natural habitats, especially those species and habitats whose conservation requires the co-operation of several States, and to promote such co-operation. Particular emphasis is given to endangered and vulnerable species, including endangered and vulnerable migratory species."

The Convention lists protected species on four Appendices: Appendix I lists strictly protected flora species, appendix II lists strictly protected fauna species, Appendix III lists protected fauna species, and Appendix IV lists prohibited means and methods of killing, capture and other forms of exploitation.

The Convention is a fundamental treaty at European level for biological diversity. It is co-ordinated by a Standing Committee that meets every year, has adopted 90 recommendations and seven resolutions, and organises many seminars and technical groups. It has put in place a very effective monitoring system (file cases) and develops a very comprehensive work programme.

Institutional structure

Monitoring the convention is the responsibility of:

  • the Standing Committee, which meets once a year and brings together representatives of the contracting parties and the observers. The Standing Committee sees to it that the provisions of the convention and its appendices are applied. It examines the reports filed by the contracting parties and the files on any controversial cases, which are often reported by the NGOs. The Standing Committee adopts recommendations for improving the implementation of the convention;
  • the Bureau of the Standing Committee;
  • Groups of Experts on threatened species; and
  • a Secretariat provided by the Council of Europe.

Work areas

The activities are organised by the standing committee focus on: the promotion of national policies for the conservation of wild flora, wild fauna and natural habitats; the integration the conservation of wild flora and fauna into national planning, development and environmental policies; and the promotion of education and dissemination of information on the need to conserve species of wild flora and fauna and their habitats