Why do we implement the project?
Species of wild plants and animals, including their habitats, participate in many natural functions which ensure overall ecological balances vital for humans. Among these is the protection of soil against erosion, climate regulation, water purification or food production. These functions contribute both to the sustainable development and the future of our democratic societies.
However, today 15% of Europe's mammals or 13% of birds’ species are threatened with extinction. With their decline or even extinction, many of the vital ecosystem services nature provides to humans are weakened.
Protected areas and ecological networks
Protected areas are a vital contribution to the conservation of the world's natural resources. Their values range from the protection of natural habitats and associated flora and fauna, the maintenance of environmental stability of surrounding regions, the protection of ecosystem services, to mitigation of climate change.
Ecological networks of protected areas can positively influence the conditions for the survival of species populations in the fragmented natural areas and human dominated landscapes in Europe. In addition, they allow for a suitable and sustainable use of natural resources through the interconnectivity of their physical elements with the landscape and existing social/institutional structures.
The Emerald Network
The Emerald Network of Areas of Special Conservation Interest, an ecological network launched by the Council of Europe in the framework of the Bern Convention, is an equivalent initiative to the EU Natura 2000 Network. Both the Bern Convention and the Habitats Directive are international legal instruments aimed at the conservation of wild flora, fauna and natural habitats. Their main difference come from the territory they apply to (European Union Member States for the Directive and the whole of Europe and part of Africa for the Bern Convention) and to the legal approach they are built on.
The "Emerald Network of Nature Protection Sites - Phase II" project follows-up on the work achieved in the frame of a previous Joint EU/CoE Programme, implemented in the period 2009-2011. It targets seven countries from Central and Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation and Ukraine). Through the project, we support the work on the estabishment of the Emerald Network in all seven countries.