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Bern Convention

Bern Convention

The aim of this convention is to ensure the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats by means of cooperation between States.


Council Decision 82/72/EEC of 3 December 1981 concerning the conclusion of the Convention on the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats (Bern Convention).


The European Community is a contracting party to the Convention on the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats adopted at Bern on 19 September 1979.

Wild flora and fauna constitute a natural heritage of great value that needs to be preserved and handed on to future generations. In addition to national protection programmes, the parties to the Convention consider that cooperation should be established at a European level.

The Convention is intended to promote cooperation between the signatory States in order to conserve wild flora and fauna and their natural habitats and to protect endangered migratory species.

The parties undertake to:

  • promote national policies for the conservation of wild flora, wild fauna and natural habitats;
  • integrate the conservation of wild flora and fauna into national planning, development and environmental policies;
  • promote education and disseminate information on the need to conserve species of wild flora and fauna and their habitats.

States will take appropriate legislative and administrative measures to protect the wild flora species specified in Appendix I. The Convention prohibits the deliberate picking, collecting, cutting or uprooting of such plants.

Appropriate legislative and administrative measures must also be adopted to conserve the wild fauna species listed in Appendix II. The following are prohibited:

  • all forms of deliberate capture and keeping and deliberate killing;
  • the deliberate damage to or destruction of breeding or resting sites;
  • the deliberate disturbance of wild fauna, particularly during the period of breeding, rearing and hibernation;
  • the deliberate destruction or taking of eggs from the wild or keeping these eggs;
  • the possession of and internal trade in these animals, alive or dead, including stuffed animals and any part or derivative thereof.

Any exploitation of wild fauna specified in Appendix III must be regulated in order to keep the populations out of danger (temporary or local prohibition of exploitation, regulation of transport or sale, etc.). The parties are prohibited from using indiscriminate means of capture and killing capable of causing the disappearance of, or serious disturbance to, the species.

The Convention provides for exceptions to the above provisions:

  • for the protection of flora and fauna,
  • to prevent serious damage to crops, livestock, forests, fisheries, water and other forms of property,
  • in the interests of public health and safety, air safety or other overriding public interests,
  • for the purposes of research and education, of repopulation, of reintroduction and for the necessary breeding,
  • to permit, under strictly supervised conditions, the taking, keeping or other judicious exploitation of certain wild animals and plants in small numbers.

The contracting parties undertake to coordinate their efforts for the protection of the migratory species specified in Appendices II and III whose range extends into their territories.

A standing committee responsible for following the application of the Convention is set up.

The Bern Convention entered into force on 6 June 1982.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 82/72/EEC



OJ L of 10.02.1982


Report - SEC (2001) 515 final - Not published in the Official Journal

Report on the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (1997-1998) (Article 9(2)) (presented by the European Commission)

The Birds and Habitats Directives provide the framework within which the provisions of the Bern Convention are applied. The report contains information on the authorities empowered to authorise derogations from Article 6 (Species in Appendices I and II to the Convention) and on derogations regarding the methods of capture and killing listed in Appendix IV to the Convention.

Council Decision of 21 December 1998 concerning the approval, on behalf of the Community, of amendments to Appendices II and III to the Berne Convention on the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats adopted at the 17th meeting of the Convention's Standing Committee [Official Journal L 358 of 31.12.1998].

Last updated: 01.09.2006