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Sound and independent information
on the environment

You are here: Home / Environmental topics / Biodiversity / Europe's protected areas / Policy framework

Policy framework

European policy regarding protected areas is mostly the product of initiatives from two main sources: the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, and the European Union itself. However, other international conventions have also been promoting the creation of protected areas e.g. Ramsar Convention, World Heritage Convention, Bonn Convention.

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty to which almost 200 countries are party. The Convention states that, as far as possible and appropriate, parties shall 'establish a system of protected areas or areas where special measures need to be taken to conserve biological diversity'.

At EU level, several directives of the European Council have been particularly important for the creation of protected areas: the 1979 Birds Directive, the 1992 Habitats Directive, and the 2008 Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

Policy instruments important for the establishment of protected areas
in Europe  

Although the EU 2020 biodiversity strategy serves as the main vehicle for EU action to address biodiversity issues, reaching the 2020 headline target will require the full implementation of all existing EU environment-related legislation, as well as action at national, regional and local level.

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European Environment Agency (EEA)
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Phone: +45 3336 7100