The Bern Convention was adopted in Bern in 1979 and entered into force in 1982. It is a binding international legal instrument in nature conservation and covers most of the natural heritage of the European continent with extention to some African States.
Many species are seriously depleted or even face extinction. For species and habitat conservation international cooperation and action is needed. In this regard, the Bern Convention is an important tool for the conservation of European wildlife.
Aims and Objectives
The Bern Convention aims to:
- ensure the conservation of European wildlife and nature habitats;
- conserve especially species and habitats whose conservation requires the cooperation of several States;
- promote cooperation between States to conserve wild species;
- particularly conserve and monitor endangered and vulnerable species, including migratory ones;
- assist with the provision of assistance concerning legal and scientific issues.
How it works
All Parties of the Bern Convention must:
- report every two years to the Standing Committee on made exceptions;
- Ppromote national policies for species conservation, including habitats;
- encourage reintroduction of native species;
- include species conservation in their planning policies;
- promote education;
- take measures to maintain populations;
- encourage and coordinate research related to the Convention;
- exchange information and share experience and expertise;
- undertake to coordinate efforts for protection of migratory species ranging into their territories.
The monitoring system of the Bern Convention includes beside other documents compulsory biannual reports submitted by the Parties, legal reports analysing the implementation of the Convention in one country as well as national reports discussed by the Groups of Experts. There exists also a supervisory practice through case-files, which is based upon the examination of complaints for possible breaches.
The institutional framework comprises a Standing Committe with its Bureau, the Secretariat and a Group of Experts. Non-governmental organisation play a key role in monitoring the application of the Convention.
The Standing Committee consists of representatives of the Parties of which each has one vote. National and international NGOs and agencies can also be represented having an observer role. It is responsible for:
- reviewing reports and processing case-file;
- recommending to the Contracting Pasrties concerning measures to be taken for the Convention's purposes;
- recommending measures to keep the public informed;
- making proposals for improving the effectiveness of the Convention;
- the arrangement of expert group meetings.
The Bureau is responsible for making administrative and organisational decisions and meets twice a year.
Groups of Experts:
The Standing Committee can arrange expert group meetings. The group of experts depens on the subject of discussion. The responsibilities of these groups are to:
- monitor the implementation of the Standing Committee;
- make recommendations concerning species or habitats;
- address specific conservation problems;
The assistance of experts is also taken into account in the preparation of legal or scientific studies on specific subjects.
The Secretariat is provided by the Council of Europe. It monitors the implementation of the Convention and notifies member States of new signatures, any amendments, declarations or new information.
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs):
National or international non-governmental organisations attend meetings of the Standing Committee in an observer role. They are a valuable information source for the Secretariat and play a key role in monitoring the application of the Convention.
The Bern Convention contains four Appendices:
- Appendix I contains all strictly protected flora species.
- Appendix II includes all strictly protected fauna species. For these species it is beside others prohibited to:
- deliberately capture, keeping and deliberate killing of any form;
- deliberately damage or destruct breeding or resting sites;
- deliberately disturbe wild fauna, particularly during the period of breeding, rearing and hibernation;
- possess or trade one of these animals, alive or dead, including any part of derivative of them.
- Appendix III lists all protected fauna species. These species are protected but can be harvested or hunted in special occasions. The exploitation of these species must be regulated to keep populations out of dangers. Indiscriminate means of capture and killing may causing disappearance of or disturbance are prohibited.
- Appendix IV contains prohibited means of killing, capture and other forms of exploitation.
Cats in the Bern Convention